E-books/audiobooks review: fiction
by Raymond E Feist
Magician's End is the final part of Raymond Feist's epic "Riftwar" series. It is epic both in terms of storytelling ambition and Feist's career: part one, Magician, was published back in 1982. As with other masterworks of contemporary fantasy (George Martin's Game of Thrones, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Christopher Paolini's Eragon), it is vital to have read previous instalments to comprehend the lovingly created universe: here, Midkemia. Feist re-introduces plenty of old friends, who explore themes of heroism, sacrifice, government and how to act morally. One hero is the cod-Shakespearean Hal, who like his namesake from Henry IV parts one and two has become a ruler (Duke of Crydee) in time to defend his nation from a fearsome enemy - not the French, but supernatural forces rising in the Tolkienesque Grey Towers. Feist's way with a plot is regularly put on hold for him to deliver grand statements about politics, morality and life. I prefer Feist the storyteller, who is on top form here.
Theodore Boone: The Activist
by John Grisham
(read by Richard Thomas)
Hodder and Stoughton
I started and now I have to keep going to the finish. Having picked up Kid Lawyer, I have followed Theodore Boone's trials and tribulations as he progresses from puberty towards near-adulthood. The son of legal-eagle parents, Theodore found himself a star advocate almost by accident. Now he is both an old hand and a young man - though he seems more mature since his last courtroom drama, where he was both defender and defendant. The Activist is pretty standard Grisham: big business wants to buy a family out of the land they have owned for decades. The story acts as a primer about legal and political issues: in this case eminent domain. Most exciting is the reading by Richard "John-Boy Walton" Thomas. His familiar tones fit the environmental themes of Grisham's tale - the longing for an upright, unspoiled America. If your teenager is showing any interest in the law - or moral causes - then The Activist is a good place to start.
Private Down Under
by James Patterson and Michael White
Some novels are long enough to last for months. Others are so curt that it is a wonder one doesn't finish them before breakfast. James Patterson, he of the short sentence and the tall story, fits into the latter category. "He can see nothing. He can hear nothing. He runs, gasping, hits a hard object - face first" is typical of Patterson's blunt economy. Private Down Under is the sixth in the "Private" series. "Private" is an International Investigation franchise, set up by ex-CIA agent Jack Morgan, who has established offices around the world. The idea reflects Patterson's own business model of outsourcing plot ideas with collaborators like Michael White. Set in Australia, Craig Gisto investigates the murder of a young man from Hong Kong, whose father Ho Meng was the police commissioner. Ho thinks the triads are targeting himself and his surviving son. This vies with a serial killer bumping off Sydney's socialites and a rock star who thinks his life is in danger. One too many plots for such a slight book.