Used to be my favorite books were the Merlin series by Mary Stewart, and now I am afraid my beloved Myrddin Emrys has fallen to the number two spot.
The story here reads like a historical fiction cake with magic icing. The story is told with the point of view changing from chapter to chapter and adds a dimension of engaging complexity that makes the whole story seem all the more real, and all the more magical.
I was concerned when I purchased this that it might be some endlessly tedious description of knights in battle, but its not. It is a very character- driven human story with castles and dragons.
As a point of interest, there is what I imagine to be a true representation of medieval life. There is much violence including but certainly not limited to the murder of children and rape. The author does not dwell on these things or glorify them. To my mind, as I said, it seems to to be true to the reality of life at that time.
And dont forget, there is magic too! Here again the author handles this element so that it is impotant, but it is not the focus of the story.
I cannot imagine hearing this tale and not wanting the hear the rest of the series so be aware that there are 3 more available. The next two are read by the brilliant, great, incomparable Roy Dotrice. The fourth in the series is read by John Lee.
We are all waiting for Mr Martin to finish writing the fifth.
Megan in TX
I've listened to over 50 audiobooks at this point, and this is the first time I have ever had such a negative experience with a narrator. Horrible! The voices are not even remotely aligned with the age or personality of the characters. A 15 year old sounds like a shaking voiced 80 year old. Just awful. So disappointed. So, no I wouldn't recommend the audiobook to anyone, especially people who are sensitive to bad narrators. But i've powered through and am on book 4 at this point- purely because I love the series that much.
Everything. I am praying that with the renewed interest in this series, they will redo the audiobooks. Tyrion Lannister is the absolute worst though. I almost can't listen to it, it's so grating and annoying.
I had to cut this book short some months ago when listening with my 12 year old. The sex scenes (including multiple war-related rapes and a long-standing affair between a twin brother and sister) are way too explicit for a child, in my opinion. Having run out of audiobooks, though, I decided to give this one a try again and really enjoyed it. It's long, and stops just as things are really building up, so be warned. Still, it's a very compelling book with a myriad of well-developed characters that make it hard to hit the "stop" button.
I love the Game of Thrones series on HBO so let's just get that out of the way. And it may not be fair to compare Roy Dotrice's performance to those of the amazing actors on the show, but it's really hard to listen to his vocalizations of Tyrion and Varys after seeing them so expertly portrayed by Peter Dinklage and Conleth Hill.
If you are coming to the books fresh, you may find Mr. Dotrice a good narrator. He does put a lot of variety in his characterizations and inflections. It's just that for me they were almost all bad choices.
Plus, the language of the books is very unique and Mr. Dotrice's accents did not assist in understanding. There were multiple moments when I was unclear if I didn't understand what he was saying because it was literally a foreign language (e.g. Dothraki), a specifically medieval reference (e.g. portcullis), or I just couldn't make out the English word he was saying (e.g. Did he say wolf or wife???). I was constantly rewinding to re-listen to sections and wishing I had a transcript. Oh wait, I do, it's called the book!
In fact, I ended up buying a box set of the first four books in paperback, returning my purchase of the second book on Audible and I've found great joy in simply reading them.
The entire series is comprised of amazing writing and storytelling that I just could not allow to be further destroyed for me by Roy Dotrice. I would not discourage anyone from jumping into the world of Ice and Fire, in fact just the opposite, but you should be very wary of these recordings.
The reader made listening very difficult.
Although I understand that there are many characters, and the timeperiod lends itself to "gruff" characters, I didn't like listening to the gruff and harsh voice of some of the characters. It was a difficult listen for me personally.
How can the characters in this year's True Detective be worse? Ferrill is asexual, drunk, corrupt, a child abuser and worse!
It is true the first few chapters seem confusing, but I simply did not try to understand who was who, trusting the author to work his magic. It is an epic adventure, well told, with unique and remarkable characters. I loved it!
Several frineds of mine have been trying to get me to read this for a few years now. I actually started reading it, but only got about 100 pages or so in before I gave up. When I saw it on Audible, I decided to give it another try just to shut them up. Boy, am I glad I listened to them!! One you have all the characters straight, the story is quite engaging. some things which may seem superfluous at the time end up being critical later on. One thing that Martin does much better than the master himself, Tolkien, is write interesting female characters. Whereas the females in The Lord of the Rings seemed "tacked on," the females in this book are well-written, deep characters who are critical to the story. Also, you never really seem sure whom to root for. Characters you may dislike at first soon become your favorites. I'm not a big fan of fantasy overall, and after reading this series, I doubt I'll be able to read anything else in this genre, because nothing can top this! I'm now listening to the second book, A Clash of Kings, and I hope the third, A Storm of Swords comes to Audible in the next few weeks, because I'm seriously addicted to this series! I must also comment on the narrator, Roy Dotrice. I love the different voies he uses. They are clear enough that you know who you are listening to even if he doesn't tell you right away. The only negative is that he sometimes changes pronunciations of names (Joffrey become Jeffrey, for example) but that is hardly enough to detract from his otherwise excellent narration.
I have yet to listen to it because it's unbearable to listen to.
I probably would recommend the book but not the audible version. I know I'll read the book eventually.
Probably anyone with a little more enthusiasm.
I have no idea if Roy is better in other books but it's very hard to get into a book if the reader isn't in to it himself.
I greatly appreciate Roy Dotrice's regular reading voice, but in this book, I find his vocal acting to be incredibly annoying; there are a couple of places where I've skipped sections of the book just so I don't have to listen to the huffing and puffing and wet-mouthed saliva sucking.
To add to the frustration, whoever cut the audio together for this book together wasn't paying much attention; nearly every chapter, there are one or two places where two sections overlap; a sentence will be read, then there'll be a long pause, then that same sentence will be repeated, and the book will continue.
The book itself is fine, but I won't spend two credits to listen to the narrator groan and moan his way through another chapter. I'll wait for the miniseries, or get the actual books from the library.
No Plot Spoilers.
I tried really *really* hard to get into this book. I listened for hours. It just couldn't grab me, no matter how hard I tried. I thought it was long winded and obsessively intent on describing every detail.
To be completely honest and fair, I have been watching the TV show. That very likely has ruined the books for me- I know the show doesn't track exactly as the books do, but knowing where it all is headed kind of kills it for me.
I also think there is a serious herd mentality that is attached to these books as a result of the show. I would love to see the numbers and reviews of the books prior to HBO picking it up. But maybe that's just my cynical worldview.
Just not for me.