All of Eddings' epic fantasy work is dated now. It seems clichéd and trite. It would never get published by today's standards. Thing is, though, this stuff became a cliché for a reason: these are powerful ingredients. Eddings uses them masterfully.
The worldbuilding here is perhaps not as immersive as his Belgariad/Mallorean series, but the story is more mature and revolves around a battered yet formidable knight instead of a Chosen One farm boy (this will be relevant to you if you, like me, are tired of the Chosen One trope).
The key to enjoying Tolkien is to use your classic ear, not your modern ear. Tolkien wouldn't get published today, either (hello, Tom Bombadil), and so many of his elements seem like clichés now, too (elves and dwarves, le sigh). If you listen to him like you do Jim Butcher, you'll get bored... but if you listen to him as a classic, an exemplar, you can see why his books are still being read. Same goes for Eddings.
I've enjoyed this story since I first read it when I was fifteen, and it's remained one of my favourites ever since. Eddings has a way of taking a remarkably simple concept - "warrior finds out his queen is in danger, must assemble a party and go on a fetch-quest" - and fleshing it out into a rich, intelligent narrative. The worldbuilding was what originally made me fall in love with this trilogy, and it held up very well under a more critical reread over a decade later.
I've got a weakness for stories where the protagonist has already gone through their basic trial by fire. I like following strong, capable people who have a sense of themselves and the skills to back it up, and so the Elenium is a dream for me. The main characters have all been doing this for a long time, so we're spared a half dozen versions of the same character flaws of insecurity, inexperience and rashness. Sparhawk is clever, strong, and competent, a character whose head actually enjoy sitting in, and the rest of his band are diverse in their skills and failings. Most of the villains are even painted as complex individuals with varied motivations; I might loathe Annias, but I can understand why he does what he does, and he's not an idiot about it.
Reading other reviews, I was a bit nervous about Greg Abby as a narrator, but I quickly came to enjoy his performance. He's clear and expressive, and while some of his vocal choices don't sound like I imagined for the characters, they have real life and personality. My only note of criticism is a familiar one - Sephrenia is well-voiced, but many of his other women are a little bit unfortunate-sounding.
(It may be worth noting here: I've seen more than one person comment on Abby's apparent mispronunciation of the word 'hierarchy'. The word he's actually saying there is 'heirocracy', which is a term for an ecclesiastical government.)
Not this performance.
NO! There ws a older audio version that was better. Not great but a lot better. Odd pronunciations.
No, but the story was good.
I'm going to just cut to the chase and review the whole Elenium rather than just this first book. I read the books in print several times before listening to this audiobook and I had very specific ideas of how I wanted this series to be done and this fell short of that hope. It took me a long time in the book to get over the way that certain names were pronounced and I wasn't too thrilled with the narrator's female voices. I did think that the narrator did a decent job for the most part though once I got over that. I like the story overall, it is a solid epic fantasy series full of magic, gods, knights, and thieves and the characters are lovable if brutal and violent at times. They tend towards banter which I always enjoy. Once I got into the series I was captured by it and I did like the narrator for the Elenium far more than the narrator for the Tamuli.
He just simply lacked the skill of a narrator. Didn't have the voice.
Narrator did, to write this review and I'm not even done.
Get a different narrator.
Fan of fantasy and science fiction. I started reading Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Tolkien in middle school and became hooked on the genre.
This is my first David Eddings book. Unfortunately, I don't think I can objectively critique the story because the narrator's accent and voice acting practically ruined the book for me. The performance was a bit over the top, and the voices didn't seem to match the characters at all. For example, I didn't expect a Pandion knight to sound like a 21st century cool dude.
Maybe Mr. Abbey is not a terrible reader, and for a different type of book he would have been ok. But for a fantasy novel with a medieval setting it was a very poor match. After listening to the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, with its excellent narrator, I expected something better than this.
If you are really interested in this series, I definitely recommend passing on the audiobook and getting the print version instead.
I've been a fan of these books for years, they've become old friends.
When listening to familiar titles, you expect your take on the story and the narration not to match perfectly. In this case, the narration was so far off it got in the way of the story.
It's far enough off to me that I know I'll never listen to them again. I'd much rather sit down a read the stories myself.
David Eddings is one of my favorite authors and I was excited to finally get to sit back and listen to story be read to me...and then I heard the narrator. Even though it has been many years since I read the series the story easily comes back to me but unfortunately it is at the cost of having to wade through one of the worst readers to which I have listened. Mr. Abby comes off as over acting in almost all situations in a melodramatic way that makes me cringe repeatedly. Unfortunately my love for the story will force me to buy the rest of the series and I can only hope that Mr. Abby has picked up some drama classes in between recordings.
A different narrator.
Susan Erikson. Renee Raudman. Anyone with more life in their voice. I actually did not listen to all of it. I had to turn it off, it was painful. I feel mean saying that as he obviously would give it his best shot, but I would recommend he increase his tempo, and put more light and shade into his voice, so his voice waxes and wanes with vibrancy and intensity along the lines of the story.
This is supposed to be book one of a series, but the reality is it's a very slow, tedious, painful build-up to nothing. It sounds like the start of an interesting story but it goes way too slowly and then abruptly ends with no resolution, no plot tie up, and very minor stage-setting for the next book. It's like someone took a decent book, ripped it in half at random, and the fluffed up the first half back to book length.