The 4 star rating in this case is only for the 2005 Penguin Audio audiobook edition of Robert Fagles' 1996 translation of Homer's The Odyssey. This is not a reflection on Fagles' translation or Ian McKellen's narration which are both 5 stars. The lower rating is only due to a few chapter/verse timing issues and the occasional distraction due to the ambience of different recording sessions combined into one audiobook. The recording is from the pre-digital download era and the audio chapters are based on approximate 30 minute timings (1 side of a cassette tape?), regardless of the actual Homeric verses. So the 24 Chapter starts are only occasionally equal to the beginnings of the 24 Verses of the Odyssey. This may or may not be a distraction for some. It is probably not a major issue if you are following along with a print edition.
One segment, Chapters 9 to 12 in the audiobook, middle of Verse 10 to the end of Verse 12 in Homer, has a significant audio issue. The speed of McKellen's reading drops to a deep bass voice at a seemingly slowed down audiospeed, as if the tape slowed down or McKellen was suffering from a serious cold on the day of the recording. This is enormously distracting when compared to the sound of the voice before and after this segment. Again, this is not a deal breaker but listeners should at least be forewarned of this fault.
The audiobook also excludes Bernard Knox's introduction that is available in the Penguin print edition.
No-one can beat Sir Ian at this kind of thing. He's probably one of the greatest performers of classical text. He doesn't just recite the verse, he speaks it. He speaks every sentence with immaculately chosen intonations that communicate meaning and emotion perfectly. I can't imagine a better reader to bring out the depth and magic of Homer.
Great voice. Very pleasant to listen to.
Great translation, Great narrator..why not hire an engineer who knows what he is doing?
It is wonderful until about chapter 13, then it goes completely off the rails.
Don't waste your time or money on this one.
The narration is excellent, as is the translation; however, the production is terrible. The first thing I noticed is that in many places the recording skips or hiccups. This is absolutely unacceptable. As others have stated, if an actual human had checked this recording before it was offered for sale then these glitches would have been caught and hopefully corrected. As others have stated, the pitch also varies in places which is a shame because the narration is superb.
Hey Audible - ummm Amazon - I know you don't care but we pay for these recordings with real money. This is the age of options and you might find that your customers have gone elsewhere because you stopped caring. Maybe that's why, after being an Audible member since 2006, I canceled my membership.
You can do better, Amazon!
Just echoing the other reviews here. We all know the story is a classic, but McKellen's reading is just fascinating. No one would have trouble enjoying the classics if they were all presented like this one.
I am an avid member of Audible because I want books, professional readers and professional recordings…this recording id terrible. A bad listen.
it is better then any of the translations i have tried to read. One thing Robert Fagles got right is that he made it sound poetical. The Odyssey was written as poetry, and so this sounded.
it was easy to listen to and follow the story.
i will be looking for more of Fagles translations of the classics
Sadly, I do not understand Greek so I must settle for the next best thing: this gloriously musical translation spoken by THE master of English diction. Absolutely enthralling. Gorgeous. Only Homer himself could have done it better.
Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.
Ian McKellen's talent as a narrator is astounding. His cadence and inflections are sublime. The only complaint I have is the 3 seconds of electronic organ noise separating the books. This is one of the few books that I could listen to over and over.
Ian McKellan's narration of the Odyssey is delightful. I love listening to his mellifluous voice, as he describes the "twists and turns" of Odysseus voyage home. Highly recommended!