The book had excellent production value. Nothing distracted me from listening to the story. The problem was that it was about characters that I never managed to develop an interest in.
Make me at some point feel that the story was heading somewhere.
I had no favorite.
Delete the book from my computer.
I found it highly ironic to have a book about swordplay that to me seemed completely pointless.
The title and the introduction are misleading. The story is just plain boring and I love both fantasy book and Jane Austen
Kushner is an excellent storyteller- that much I cannot deny. She paints a picture of Riverside and its band of cutthroats most wonderfully, contrasted with the Hill and its somewhat more sophisticated nobles. However, I did not expect the casualness of the sexuality of the characters. For example, Michael goes from making love to a female to Lord Horn, an old gentleman friend of his mother's. I did not expect this. One of the reasons I chose this book was because it was one of Neil Geiman's favorites and it had the voice talent of Katherine Kelgren. The dramatization is great, the author's narration superb, and the action scenes spectacular- but the characters themselves do not really move me nor do their various escapades.
I love the story, I love Ellen Kushner's narration, but I hate the sound effects.
What I love about audio books is what I love about books. I love reading or being read to. Audio books let me listen and let the authors words and my mind together create a world, a place, a feeling. It's different than movies. It's not passive - it collaborative. It's calming yet nourshing mind and soul food.
Narration was prefect, authentic, wouldn't change a thing.
I made a vow this year to try to write "positive" negative reviews, as in, I didn't like this, but you might like it if...but in some cases I feel I've gotten a bait and switch based on the description of a book and my temper flairs.
I wouldn't be quite so hard on this book if it weren't for the fact that it won an audie award and was championed by Neil Gaiman. This book was described as Jane Austin-esque fantasy with a "supporting cast" and "soundscapes."
Firstly, I get zero Jane Austin from this. It is primarily an action adventure book. Yes, there are scenes of people having dinner or tea and chatting, but also scenes of swordplay ending in death and fairly graphic sex scenes, which are not REALLY something you'd find in Pride and Prejudice.
The supporting cast pops in from time to time and this is quite jarring. Imagine, you've been listening to the main narrator doing all the voices for half an hour, then randomly, another actor pops in for a few lines. Huh?
The sound effects are completely random. Why they chose to highlight certain sounds is beyond me. So...no sound effects for a whole scene, then a loud sound of a piece of paper being crumpled. Or, sudden clicking tea cups when that isn't even a plot point, they are just drinking tea.
The occasional music was fine.
Finally, if you are sensitive to adverbs, which I didn't think I was, you will lose your mind. "He said, archly, darkly, quickly, slyly, overtly, snidely..." I'm okay with adverbs but at some point they signal that the author fears the reader will not understand the state of mind of the person speaking. And, really, I didn't.
I love Niel Gaiman, and buy pretty much anything he puts his hands on. But this one was a dud for me. Slow and... I don't know. Kinda boring really.
It was an interesting premiss but the characters were annoying, broken, or nasty. Why would I want to be around them any longer than necessary. I kept waiting for the characters or the story to improve, but they didn't.
The sound effects were distracting. For example: having a bell ring, and then the narrator says "a bell rang", just seems dumb.
The story is well written and very engaging if you can get past the author's less-than-stellar reading of her own work. This is one instance where paying a professional orator would have been money well spent.
An upstairs/downstairs blend of haughty aristocracy and thieving lowlife makes this a fun and fascinating performance. The manipulations and moods of the characters fill out a subtle plot well. A full radio play with background noises was a delightful extra.
People who pick up this book without knowing anything about it might be a little surprised at the turns it takes. Swordspoint is only about swords in the social sense of the word - there is little sword fighting and action of that sort is thin on the ground. But Ellen Kushner never pretends that the book will be some kind of action-packed thriller. As Neil Gaiman says in his introduction, the key to this book is in its subtitle: A Melodrama of Manners.
The story revolves around the social station of a number of aristocrats in a fantasy city, who live on 'The Hill' while the lower denizens inhabit the city by the river, handily named 'Riverside.' The two sides interact mainly when the higher classes have to get their hands dirty, by arranging affairs of dubious legality or honor, or engaging a swordsman to fight to the death on their behalf. The main character is the celebrated duelist Richard St. Veer, whose position is more often outlined in social terms than in violent ones.
Of course, it is far from that simple. A Melodrama of Manners hardly ever is. But the story is very entertaining and unusual for the sort of high-fantasy setting that this is similar to. The prose is quick and clever, and the way that the audiobook was performed was great. I hope other audiobooks follow its example. I have already listened to another of Kushner's books, and I intend to read or listen to more when I can obtain them.