Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Dear Ice and Fire Junkie
The popularity of the HBO series, Game of Thrones has enticed many folks to pick up and start plowing through the entire series of tomes from which the TV shows derive their inspiration. And, once you’re sucked in, it’s pretty much like quicksand. The brilliant acting of most, if not all, of the characters along with the masterful writing of their roles and place in this Tolkienesque saga makes us easy prey for this quagmire. But beware good reader, there is much more to this sticky wicket than a mere addiction.
Before you get too heavily invested in this series, if you haven’t already, you owe it to yourself to pay attention to the negative reviews of Books 4 and 5. Among those reviews, the breakdown in narration after Book 3 is particularly egregious. I am generally a fan of Roy Dotrice. He is not my favorite narrator / performer but he is unquestionably a very good one but mostly for playing the roles of older men. The characters of young men seem to present Mr. Dotrice with something of a challenge and that of female characters, especially young ones, a challenge that is unsurmountable. That being said, Mr. Dotrice’s contribution to the powerful and stunningly produced first three books in this series was not insignificant. There were parts in the writing of those that seemed to drag on and on too long but they were still made entertaining by the narrator. In Books 4 and 5 there were many more dull, uninspired passages that were also made less entertaining by the narrator.
And, that being said, what in the heck is up with the changes in pronunciation of names and the voices of their owners? Was anyone paying attention to the editing and production of these last two books? I don’t know if it was Random House Audio or Audible who dropped the ball here but it all starts with Roy Dotrice. He’s the common denominator here and has to be aware of this huge distracting shift that took place between books and has to have the most responsibility for better quality control.
As far as the story goes, I will repeat here some of what I wrote in a review of Book 1. While I loved a lot about the writing in the first installment, I cared so much about the characters, to have so many of these good and honorable protagonists tortured and killed, I thought that I did not need to continue beyond Book 1. But, continue I did and was not sorry after Book 2. I enjoyed the third installment but things slid downhill in all respects after that. There are characters that I am still interested in and wish to know about their fates, even a couple of the villains. But, will I invest 2 more credits in this series? Me thinks not, at least not at this time. It is not That great.
Oh, and lest I not forget, the ending. This was the worst ending of any book I have ever picked up. If an author lacks so much imagination that s/he cannot satisfyingly end a book even if it is not the last in a series then me thinks the author's imagination needs work. I believe that authors owe it to their readers to finish a book and not just entice their readers to buy the next installment. Shame on you GRRM.
Every time Aria speaks in this book I find myself expecting to hear her refer to the old god's as "magically delicious". This new voice is a complete departure from her voice in the first books.
And while Roy Dotrice's apparent inability to remember how he pronounced a name not only in other books but even earlier in the same paragraph is distracting, the story itself is as solid and well written as I have come to expect from Martin.
Dotrice chooses to use a mix of both his former pronunciation and the new in this book, most notably as follows.
CAT-lin and KATE-lin
Bry-EEN and BREE-en
Pee-TYR and PEE-ter
A-ria and ARI-er ("I've lost my Lucky Charms")
If he decided to pronounce Catelyn as Caitlin I could adapt but he switches constantly between the old and new pronunciations so it is difficult to become settled into listening to the tale.
The voices of some character are all wrong: Sam and Aria for two. This is super annoying to me. I don't know if I'll make it through this book four. I wish I'd know this, I probably would not have bought it.
When the third book ended everyone who had been anywhere near the wall made it clear that almost nothing else mattered. So how much of this book takes place anywhere near the wall? Almost none.
Once he sends off Sam and Aemon, John Snow isn't heard of for the rest of the book. Tyrian Lanaster isn't heard from at all. Nor are Stanis or Davos or the red woman. Sansa Stark is slightly less of an airhead, but just as boring. A large part of the book takes place in Dorn, and while some of the new characters are slightly interesting, it's mostly irrelevant. But the biggest problem is Circe Lanaster. About a third of the the book follows her and she spends all of it being a whiny self centered bitch, and worst of all not being very interesting when she does it.
Jamie does some personal development stuff I won't ruin, Aria does some interesting stuff I won't ruin, Brienne wanders around completely failing to do anything useful, Sam goes sailing, and everybody else plays politics (boringly). That's it. That's the entire plot. That took 31 hours. The last 2 hours had some other interesting stuff happen, but it's not enough to redeem the rest of it.
And to top it off Roy Dotrice has completely forgotten how he pronounced anything in the first 3 books. The accents are worse if anything, and good luck telling any of the Dornish apart.
Seriously, what happened? I genuinely want to know. With a decent editor you could get this down to 5 hours without losing anything interesting.
There are some good new characters introduced, but at the same time many of the characters one has come to enjoy appear little.
As another reviewer commented, let some of the characters actually achieve something other than stabbing someone in the back. So many of the characters I loved are gone and so much time is spent on characters I really don't care about. this just seems a hodge podge of ideas rather than clear storytelling.
Well, the previous three were better in my opinion. as others have noted character voicies have changed. Most notably Aria. She sounds like a gutter snipe, not the daughter of a lord.
Only to get to the last book.
I tremendously enjoyed the first three books. The fourth is talk, talk, talk.
Loved the first 3 books with Dotrice reading them, but just about had to quit listening when Arya and Danni had different voices in this book - agh! They sound like old crones now. Also, the pronunciations are off for several characters which is annoying too. This is the weakest of the series in storyline (too many new people with too many minor tie-ins) but the narrator definitely needs to get back to voicing Arya and Danni like young women, not old hags.
I've read through many of the reviews of this book, and the primary complaint seems to be regarding the inconsistencies with Mr. Dotrice's narration. I feel that it is important to point out that he is NINETY years old as I write this, was 88 when this audiobook was published and 80 when the first book in the series came out. I know many elderly people, and the fact that he was able to narrate these giant tomes at all is quite remarkable, let alone so well!! So, yes, I agree that it is maddening to hear a narrator change his game mid show, but I feel like we got to cut this guy some slack. Just saying.
That said... the book itself is consistent with the rest of these works, ponderous and detailed, but still thoroughly engaging. Just like the whole series.
This story really lags in places and introduces a TON of new characters while completely igoring some of the most interesting characters from the previous books. The author crushes all hope whenever possible and gives the reader nothing, and no one, to cling to. I find myself having no reason to continue to follow the plot. Expect all respectable characters to die a brutal death and all evil or deeply flawed characters to succeed, if only for a short time. All of the characters are severely injured whether it be physical pain or emotional pain, no one is safe! This book is filled with pain, sadness, injustice and detailed descriptions of each.
Martin could allow a decent character to achieve a goal once in a while. Readers like to relate to the characters and he brutalizes every one of them which makes the reader feel brutalized, hopeless and ultimately DEPRESSED!
I enjoyed several characters until Martin savaged them and then killed them off. He really knows how to detach his audience...brutalize or murder their favorite characters. It's easy to let go of the plot when that happens.
This book inspired me to search for a different author.
I guess Roy Dotrice must have just completely forgotten how he pronounced half of the characters names in the last three books he read, it's seriously driving me crazy, He's pronouncing Catelyn: Katelyn, Brienne: Bernie, Petyr: Peter, and a whole slew of other inconsistent pronunciations. I literally cringe at every mispronunciation. But besides that the book is fine, I'm only a few hours in but i couldn't take the rampant mispronunciation anymore. I guess all we can do is stick it out and hope Dotrice remembers how to pronounce the names in the remaining books.
Imagine my surprise when I was clicking around for something new in the epic fantasy section and my eye just happened to see Roy's name on the splash page that shows the new releases. Like so many others I bought the John Lee recording of this story some years ago and found it to be a terrible listen. Many, many, many of us begged for Roy Dotrice to record this story, and now here it is.
I have accepted after listening to Dance that I will not hear the same powerful performance that we were so lucky to have on the first three books, and I am ok with that. Time marches on mercilessly for all of us and those recordings were many and more years ago.
This performance is much, much better than the last recording of Feast and for me its like I get to hear the story for the first time . THANK YOU for doing this.