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I have followed this story from the Nantucket series forward, and I have loved nearly every minute of it. However, I must admit my dwindling enthusiasm since "Tears of the Sun," and my particular disappointment with this book. It actually pains me to give such a low rating to a story that I have been so in love with, but there does come a time when an author needs to call done, done, and avoid diminishing returns.
This has been the high point throughout all of the series: Todd McLaren has performed every book, which is a rare thing to find in a series with so many books - you almost always get at least one or two others to come in and, in my opinion, generally "upset the apple cart." Say what you will about some of the mispronunciations of words and places, but as a Scot myself, and one used to hearing the Gaelic, I can can tell you that even "native" speakers massacre a word here and there! But, he has been absolutely consistent in his vocal representations of every character, such that you don't need the "said Rudi," or "said Juniper," to alert you to whomever it is speaking. Not exactly an easy feat, what with a year or more between recordings! Hats off to Mr. McLaren.
"The Given Sacrifice:"
That said, I rate this book lowest of low in the series for a number of reasons. First, it is my opinion that "Tears of the Sun," Lord of Mountains," and "The Given Sacrifice" should all have been ONE book. In fact, all of them seem only designed to set the stage for the NEXT series, detailing the story of Generation III of 'The Change.' There is a sense of rushing and being incomplete in each of these last three books. We are introduced to characters, or are walking alongside characters we've known from the start, then suddenly there's a, "aaaaand...they're not important anymore, so moving on..." and "poof" - where did they go?
In this final iteration (thus far) we, in fact, get time warped from cradle to adulthood with those who will take center stage in the next part of the series, suddenly hearing about the deaths of characters we have know and loved (or loved to hate), or characters of the same esteem who have been shunted off north somewhere, or driven so far into the background that we know they will be cameos or less than cameos from here onward.
Here's the thing: we GREW UP with Rudi, with Mathilda, with Mary and Ritvah and the rest; we "knew" them from childhood to the crowing of the King and foundation of Montival. As such, we shared every triumph, every grief, and all the wonder that the characters did - we were invested in them.
SPOILER ALERT: At the end of this book, however much we have been prepared for Rudi's death, his daughter, her friends, and a good many others ride into the final battle, unblooded and nervous, but...who cares? We don't know them; have no investment in them; and to be honest, as we see only strangers taking the guise of people we have known and loved, there is an absolute feeling of let-down. Not simply because a beloved character has died, but because, once again, we get a sense of, "so THAT happened...aaaand moving on - forget all of those folks; here's the new folks - ta-da!"
Sorry, and I do submit that this is only one man's opinion, but things should have been wrapped up long before, and left with the gold old fashion "let the reader finish the future," for good or ill.
There simply is a time to say "when," and call something great good enough.
Love your writing Mr. Stirling, but with this one - nay, with "The High King of Montival," I'd say - enough was enough.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of The Given Sacrifice to be better than the print version?
TGS was probably the most satisfying of this series since The Sunrise Lands, probably even more so. I've enjoyed all of these books but at times parts of them-sometimes large parts-seemed to be more place-holding than moving the story along. At other times the whole thing seemed rushed, like the author was up against a deadline. S.M. Stirling is a very compelling writer however, and he has never been boring. I'm pretty sure anyone buying this book has read the entire series. If not, do so before you read this one. These are not stand alone books and I would imagine the frustration quotient from trying to figure out who is who and keep up with the storyline would be huge. Also, knowing virtually the entire life stories of the characters make them like old and comfortable friends. That being said, TGS wraps up this part of the saga very well, with enough plot twists to keep the reader entertained and anticipating more. Stirling is evidently writing a trilogy within a trilogy: Dies The Fire and its two sequels, The Sunrise Lands through this one, then at least two more, covering three generations. I can't wait till next September.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
For a book series going into double digits it's surprising how accessible this book is for new comings. For those of us coming to it as book 10 of the Emberverse there is something very predictable it about the direction of the story, don't expect any surprises in the first 3/4 but that doesn't distract from the great characters and world development wrapped inside the excellent writing.
The last quarter however is a different 'story', everything is taken to a new level opening the world up to interesting and unexpected direction, and it's worth the wait for both new comers and veterans of the series.