I'm not blind drunk, I'm just blind.
For those who didn't get the title, Simon Jones is probably best known by some as the voice of Arthur Dent in the BBC's TV and radio adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But he does an excellent job of narrating audiobooks from what I've heard, particularly here.
The Amulet of Samarkand opens with the spirit Bartimaeus being summoned by the apprentice magician Nathaniel and ordered to steal a powerful artifact from a ruthless magician. Unfortunately for Nathaniel, he quickly finds himself in way over his head, involved in matters of treachery and intrigue. And to make matters even more complicated the wisecracking, sarcastic Bartimaeus has his own agenda.
I particularly like how the book switches from Nathaniel's point of view over to that of Bartimaeus, and particularly how when speaking from Bartimaeus' point of view it switches to first person narration. I particularly like Simon Jones' narration during these points, as he easily and perfectly captures Bartimaeus' witty, often scathing sense of humor. I haven't finished the book yet but I can't put it down for long. And when I've enough credits saved up I intend to purchase the rest of the trilogy.
Unlike the prior novels, The Last Battle begins in the land of Narnia. Many generations have passed since Eustace and Jill freed Prince Rillian from the sinister enchantments of theEmerald Witch in The Silver Chair. Since tat time, Narnia has enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity. But now a new evil threatens Narnia in the form of Shift, an old, cunning Ape, who finds a lion's skin and persuades his friend Puzzle, a well-meaning if simple donkey, to don the skin and pretend to be Aslan, who has not been seen in Narnia for many geneations. Far away from this, King Tirian of Narnia is enjoying a vacation at a hunting lodge with his riend Jewel, a unicorn. He is visited by Runewit, a Centaur, who warns that Narnia is facing an era of darkness and chaos. The first signs of this become apparent when the king receives news that talking trees are being cut down for lumber, which is being sold to the Calormenes, who have always been enemies of Narnia. The situation becomes even more desperate when Tirian is captured and bound to a tree. But all is not lost, for Aslan summons all those who ave had a hand in the creation and protection of Narnia, minus Susan, who has drifted away from Narnia and its values over the years. Together these friends prepare to fight a battle that could mark the end of Narnia.
As with the other books in the series, THe Last Battle is read by a distinguished British actor, in this case Patrick Stewart, best known to some as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He does this tale reat justice with his deep, calm and versitile voice. I finished the entire book in less than a day simply because I couldn't put it down.
I actually started this series, although I didn't know it was such at the time, back in 1993 whenI was in Junior High, with the fourth volume. It wasn't until about ten years later that I got the proper skinny on it and read the series in proper order. Over Sea, Under Stone opens with the Drew family, Dick, Ellen and their three young children, arriving in Cornwall for a summer vacation, which they'll be spending with their Great Uncle Merry, a mysterious professor who often appears unexpectedly on the Drews' doorstep to vanish just as quickly in the night. While exploring the massive house that Uncle Merry, Meriman Lyon to the wider world, the three Drew children, Simon, Jane and Barney, discover an ancient manuscript which they believe to be a map showing the location of what they believe to be an ancient treasure. Though a game to the three Drews, the importance of the manuscript begins to surface, first when a mysterious man and a woman claiming to be his sister appear and ask the Drews about secret passages and maps, then even more so later when the house is burglarized while the Drews sleep. Realizing what the thieves must have been after, the childen show the manuscript, which they managed to keep safe, to Uncle Merry, who reveals that the treasure is in fact an ancient grail from the time of King Arthur. Thus begins a dangerous race as the Drews attempt to decipher the clues of the map and reach the grail before their myysterious enemies do. But it quickly becomes apparent that their foes, though relatively few in number, are extremely resourceful, and the outcome of the race is continually in doubt.
As usual with audiobooks, the narrator can sometimes ruin the experience even if the story itself is good. Fortunately that wasn't the case here. British actor Alex Jennings not only has a good voice for storytelling but also a talent for accents and dialects that lend personality to the characters he portrays, from the Cornish accents of the village locals to Uncle Merry's deep, commanding tones. This is definitely a listen I wuld recommend to others. It's not an entirely traditional fantasy with swords, dragons and wizards but it's a gripping tale all the same.
If you can get your kids to read these books then you are doing them a favor. These books are just plain fun but they also have many hidden treasures. The books have legends and history and ancient tales for them to read and maybe even remember. These are lessons that may creep up in school. These books have some fun mixed with knowledge. I cannot think of a better thing for a kid than to read for fun and accidentally learn something. The 30 Clues series is the same. Many historical and geographic facts mixed with a fun story.