Monster Hunter Siege: Monster Hunter, Book 6 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Number six in multiple New York Times best seller Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series.
Go big or go home.
When Monster Hunter International's top hunter, Owen Zastava Pitt, was given a tip about some hunters who had gone missing in action, he didn't realize their rescue mission would snowball into the single biggest operation in MHI's history. Their men are being held prisoner in a horrific nightmare dimension, and the only way to reach them is through the radioactive ruins of a monster-infested war zone.
As if that wasn't bad enough, it's also the home base of the powerful creature behind the devastating attacks on the Last Dragon and Copper Lake. It turns out ancient gods of chaos really hate trespassers. But this god picked a fight with the wrong crew, and now MHI wants payback. Calling on their allies, a massive expedition is formed, and with the odds stacked against them, a legion of hunters goes to war.
It's D-Day at the City of Monsters.
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 33 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 01, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #8,003 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#107 in Urban Fantasy
#112 in Contemporary Fantasy
#2,094 in Paranormal & Urban Fantasy (Books)
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First off, I'm a huge fan of MHI. It (and Dresden) are my two favorite current series. I've read them both twice over. I was really, really looking forward to this book and after waiting for what seemed like forever, I got it as soon as it came out. I'm sure all of the anticipation didn't help matters, and I tried not to let it influence my reading experience, but even without that aspect there was just no way to ignore the weaknesses in this book.
My non-spoilery review is this: This book plodded along. Unlike the other MHI books, which usually hit you over the head with action right away and barely let up until the end (which is one reason I love this series), this book was actually kinda boring most of the time. The entire first HALF of the book consisted of setting up the story and it only had ONE fight against ONE monster. It also contained a bunch of (sometimes kinda clunky) dialogue and the logistics of getting ready for the "Final Battle". Then the big battle at the end happens and..... 90% of it happens "off-screen" (so to speak). We're told that this book is going to be a "Siege", but our perspective character doesn't even get to take part in pretty much any of it (except for being there for one bit at the beginning). And to top it all off, the final pay-off is.... a cliffhanger. And not even an action-packed cliff-hanger, but instead a "Hey, some dude said he did something and you have to wait to find out if he actually did it" cliff-hanger.
I kept saying for the first half, "OK... this is going really slow, but this ending is gonna be awesome", and when that didn't happen, it was a pretty huge let-down. Essentially, this book serves as a prologue for whatever part of the story is next. It pretty much just reiterates what you already knew, which is that there's a Big Bad guy who wants to destroy the world and Owen has to stop him. Almost nothing beyond that is actually advanced in the series story arc.
Now for the super-spoilery review. **ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK**
The things I like most about the MHI books are their ridiculous amounts of action/violence, humor (particularly in the form of witty dialogue), constant forward movement of the aforementioned action (leading to an eventual final confrontation in each book), and a continually advancing series story arc. This book had none of those.
First, as I said, the whole first half of the book is "preparation" for the second half. They're trying to find out how to get their missing Hunters (which we already know from reading the cover). They find out that there's a way in, then spend a bunch of time getting ready to storm said entrance. There is one fight with one monster (where Owen and a Russian take on a single beast in a swimming pool), and that's it. There is literally NO other monster-hunting action in the first half of the book (and no, I don't count the brief run-in at the bar where Owen shot a couple guys who didn't even fight back or the run-in with the Roman ghost, since that was basically just a misunderstanding that ended in a conversation). So right away, we don't get what we come to MHI for: lots and lots of monster-killing violence.
Second, the dialogue was kinda bad in certain places. I don't expect Shakespeare from this stuff, obviously, but whereas the other books actually made the characters come to life, these fell flat. Since the first half was so devoid of action, the dialogue could have at least made up for that, but it didn't. Too many of the interactions just felt like they were there to fill in space during the setup. And that's not to mention the whole, "Garsh, I cain't believe a purdy gurl likes me!" internal dialogue that we *still* get from Owen, which at this point just makes him sound pathetic considering how much of a bad-ass he is and how long he's been married to said girl. Yeah, we get it... like, a billion years ago you didn't think you were good enough to marry Julie but you did anyway. It's probably time to move on from that mentality, slugger. :Op
Third, when we finally get to the action, we do get a pretty good invasion sequence when they take the island (I mean... it had a tank and a freaking GIANT... yay!). So this was the part where, after ALL that waiting, I thought we'd finally make up for the first half with a crescendo of violence and some actual forward-movement and intensity. Owen helps take the beach (kinda.. he's mostly just there for it), gets his butt kicked (as per usual), gets right back up (as per usual), heads for the portal, and then........... sits in a hallway and waits while ALL of the action takes place off-screen. Yes, that's right... Owen Pitt, super-duper monster hunter extraordinaire gives us the perspective of *listening* to all the other hunters fight a horde of monsters.
OK, well, there are plenty more monsters I'm sure, so we'll just wait for him to fight those, right? So Pitt finally gets the go-ahead to hit the portal, and we get a brief glimpse of the aftermath of the battle he listened to (there were bodies EVERYWHERE you guys!!! If only we'd actually SEEN this super huge fight from the perspective of our hero, amiright?), then he goes through the portal into the Nightmare Realm and.... no monsters. No horde waiting for him. Not even a single straggler. Just more non-action and what amounts to an episode of "survivor" while he tries to make his way through the wilderness to wherever it is he should be making his way to. He does encounter some resistance along the way, so we get a little action (cool).
Eventually, after a bunch of walking and talking and sharing his feelings with Lacoco (for realz?), he rescues the Hunters (with surprisingly little violence and mostly just talking, once again) then the Wild Hunt comes after them, which is when.. at a whopping 85% of the way through this plodding story... Owen FINALLY opens up a can of whoop-@$$ on some monsters. He takes on the whole Wild Hunt by himself, kills some Knights with a mace, and bests the Huntsman with nothing but a knife. Great stuff. Then there's a bit with the Big Bad (which I'll expand on later), but the main thing to take away from that part is that the Big Bad says there's a horde of monsters waiting to kill all of his friends on the other side of the portal, and when Owen finally makes it back.... guess what, you guys? No horde of monsters. Yeah... instead we get ONE line of dialogue which essentially says, "Man, there were tons of monsters on this island and we spent the last six months killing them all. Too bad you missed all that action, dude".
So basically, this book was "Owen takes on the Wild Hunt and everything else happens off-screen". :Op
I think the worst part was that The Wild Hunt were the only real action on Owen's part and they weren't even a necessary part of the story. They were just shoe-horned into the Nightmare Realm (using a thin explanation) just to give Owen something to do because, as it turns out, that's all he was going to do, which brings me to my next point....
Lastly, and probably most disappointingly, this book did nothing to advance the battle between Owen and the Big Bad that they've been alluding to since the beginning of the series despite the fact that we were told that the whole point of this huge undertaking was to "take the fight" to the Big Bad. When Owen does finally "confront" him (if you can call getting totally taken by surprise and tied to a tree before being buried in the ground "confronting" something), it gives us almost no new information. He's an ancient demon/god. Yup, already knew that. He wants to destroy the world. Yup, already knew that. Owen was Chosen to stop him. Already knew that. He's super powerful. Already knew. etc. etc. So while this "confrontation" was going on, I was thinking, "How is he going to beat this guy? What's he going to do to stop him? Is he going to figure out how to bend the Nightmare Realm to his will like we were told he could earlier in the book?" But apparently, those were the wrong questions to ask, because Owen didn't do ANYTHING to stop him. As it turns out, anything actually *happening* between Owen and the Big Bad (i.e. the whole point of this book) simply wasn't in the cards. He didn't thwart the Big Bad's plans or blow him up with an ancient relic or anything. The Big Bad doesn't kill Owen and Owen doesn't kill him. In fact, not much of anything transpires other than more talking. The guy walks right out of the Nightmare Realm and Owen is stuck trying to get free. He eventually does, of course, and when he gets back through the portal (to a complete lack of any monsters and/or action, btw) he has another brief run-in with the Big Bad, wherein the Big Bad *again* doesn't kill Owen and Owen doesn't kill him. Owen shoots the Big Bad, but of course that doesn't kill him (as we are even told ahead of time it won't since he's an ancient spirit), so he just disappears leaving behind the threat that he had taken Owen's newborn child, but (we are reminded) since the Big Bad had lied about so many other things (you know, like a giant horde of monsters and the promise of some actual action), then maybe he was lying about taking Owen's kid too....
...or WASN'T he?
Is that an awesome cliff-hanger ending or what, eh? That maybe Owen's family is in trouble but maybe it's not? And that the Big Bad is still just as much of a threat as he was before we started reading this book? And that really, we didn't get much of anything out of this whole experience other than the fact that Owen talked his way through rescuing a few hunters, fought some Fey Knights, and then had a CONVERSATION with the bad guy?
Anyway, if I had known what this book was, I would have waited until the next one came out and read them both together. This really could have been condensed a lot and made into the first part of an more complete story. It wouldn't have taken much to cram "we found the portal, prepared for months, and fought our way in before the bad guy escaped" into some introductory chapters instead of making an entire book out of it. In fact, I'm not even sure that it's *necessary* to read this book since nothing of consequence actually happens. The Big Bad is still the same looming threat and the only tie-in that we will probably have to deal with is if he took Owen's kid or not, which wouldn't take much to catch you up on. Well... there was also that brief epilogue at the end where Stricken acquires some as-yet-unidentified super-weapon, but since they didn't really explain much about it, I'm sure we'll get the actual backstory in a later book anyway.
But hey... it's just one mediocre book in a really good series, so it's not like I won't be waiting anxiously for the next one. I mean... with all the time they spent setting up the story in this one but not actually getting anywhere, I don't see how the next book can be anything less than non-stop melt-my-face-off action from the get-go. Right?
This book barely advances to overall story arc that was established in books 1,2, & 4, where Z is destined to save the world from the Big Bad Apocalyptic Cheese. The entire book could easily have been done in, at most, a novella. There's a huge amount of filler, vast chunks of time spent with not-particularly interesting tasks such as running around gathering up a bunch of hunters from all over the world (who end up doing basically nothing), enormous & dull hunks of time spent traveling --on foot, in trucks, in a boat. About as exciting as driving through Kansas.
It started out encouraging enough, literally taking up moments after "Legion" left off, with Mosh & Z in their Dad's kitchen, hearing his story.
Sounds great! Then....blah. Bureaucracy, talking, traveling, negotiating, gathering supplies, & tedium. There is one good monster fight scene in Russia --actually the only good action scene in the book-- where Z has to fight some watery critter, & it's the best kind of MHI fight; guns & knives & pipes & fists, Z thrashing around, getting all filthy & having the monster beat the tar out of him. But it's brief.
Then lots & lots & lots more blah. The gang eventually gets to the island, & more tedious traveling & setup ensue. Some fighting happens, but (as in most of the rest of the book) it's actually boring action --the monsters obligingly gang up at a distance so the "action" consists of the hunters shooting & reloading, shooting & reloading, repeat til all the monsters are dead. MHI might as well have gone to a carnival shooting gallery & shot at the little ducks that trundle back & forth.
There is one epic battle where things get down & dirty...offstage. Z stands around & hears some of it, the wounded get carried past him & he hears what an amazing fight it was, but neither Z nor we see any of it. We get to watch while Z stands around & waits til it's over. Z eventually gets to the nightmare world & we plod along behind him while we hikes endlessly & runs away from monsters. And spends a helluva lotta time talking to Jason. Z gets buried & we spend another semi-eternity sitting around with him while he waits for someone to bail him out. Eventually some more people talk about what epic battles they fought, but we don't see any of those, either. Wrap.
So, the gist is: not much action, not much happens, & nothing as far as advancing the so-called Apocalyptic battle that Z was born to fight --gotta buy the next book, you see. Clearly Corriea has either lost interest in the series, lost all respect for his readers, or both. He obviously thinks he can crank out crap & his legions of loyal fans will fork out the cash anyway. This is a fairly common writer's disease & I for one find it infuriating. Corriea isn't going to get another cent out of me until/unless he decides to put some effort into an MHI book, one that isn't just a short story bloated to novel length with indigestible & boring filler designed solely to separate his fans from their cash.
One of the few SF/action/mil fic writers that didn't do this was Tanya Huff in her Confederation Series; she kept up the quality of the books throughout & even carried it over into the Peacekeeper books, with the same outstanding main character, Torin Kerr (who, IMO, is the best female character in about any genre --a truly rare creation; a strong, smart female character that isn't just a bitch), as well as a number of other interesting & well-developed characters & many different really excellent aliens.
I truly believe that story tellers today push the story too quickly. It's not enough to simply create cool characters and allow the reader to grow comfortable with them before ratcheting things up. Today we meet the character and almost immediately the story bursts into a full out sprint.
The author has taken us from an unwitting accountant getting a lesson in what the real world is like to basically playing second seat to Earl "Ike" harbinger planning monster d-day amphibious landings. Do we need to be here already? You mean there aren't lower level monsters to deal with before we get to ancient world ending deities? Our hero has been dealing with G o ds for most of the series. It should have been titled God-Hunter International then. I mean we hear about all these other monsters but only in relative passing and I think the author missed an incredible opportunity to walk us through Owens ever evolving world. Story tellers simply don't take the time to really let us immerse ourselves in the character's world before running off to bigger and bigger baddies and higher and higher stakes.
If the author spent half as much time WALKING us through Owens education as he does drowning us under needless weapon details Owen Pitt and MHI might find themselves in such company as Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship.
Though I had HIGH hopes I doubt I'll read any further books in this series. Shame really.
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Thank you Mr. Correia