My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We enjoyed this audiobook as a family. I had encouraged the children to try to read the ebook version on several occasions, but they didn't get very far. I won a copy of the audiobook and started it on a long cartrip. We listened to a great deal of the book on that first trip. We had our next long trips with Daddy this weekend and finished the book together.
Smith has written an exciting story with strong imagery and allusions for the Christian life. At times, especially in the beginning, he seems to overuse similes, but that eased as the story went on. Also, at times, we found the repetition of she said, she said, she said, she said in conversation cumbersome.
That being said, ideas abound from cowardice to bravery; from pessimism to hope; from friendship to betrayal; truth and lies. Love and loyalty to family are emphasized, even the importance of taking one's rightful name. Readers can see how Pickett's own sense of inadequacy leads to depression and grumbling. They can also see how to confront the bitterness head on.
Smith does a nice job of tying the opening story back to the end. The idea of a place like Cloud Mountain with it's craftsmen and apprentices celebrating and serving their gifts is a beautiful dream, if a bit unreal in this life.
The children are ready to go on and find out the continuing story. I think they'll also now read the prequel, The Black Star of Kingston on their own.
We enjoyed Clarkson's reading of the book. He did nice voices, although some characters are quieter than others and harder to hear when barrelling down the road.
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