Let me be clear, I have given this book a two star review in consideration of its part in a larger saga. As a stand alone, I would give it one star. It is difficult to imagine how this book could have been worse. If I did think it completely necessary to slog through this in order to read book 5, I would have abandoned it before I finished segment 1.
The first three books in this cycle are masterpieces. Perhaps a bit bloated at times but brilliantly inventive and rich in depth and history. This book contains none of what has created enduring interest in the series. Nothing about the Wall and the Others, nothing about Daenerys and the dragons. No Jon Snow, no Bran Stark and, most disappointingly, no Tyrion. Arya gets maybe 4 chapters out of the 34 hour running length, Sam gets about the same. Even characters like Sansa Stark, who took up far too much of the previous three books, get very little time here.
Basically, this is a book about who takes over the Sea Stone Chair and the endless machinations of Cersei Lannister. The first of these things is of zero interest to me, personally, though I am hopeful it plays out in some fulfilling way later. The Cersei stuff, however, is apalling. This has to be the most universally hated character in all of Martin's saga and every third chapter is about her. There is at least one, memorable, section where we get an hour long Cersei chapter, followed by a Jaime chapter all about Cersei, followed by another endless Cersei chapter. Riveting stuff.
It is literally about 15 hours into the production where anything of the least interest happens. This is but a brief respite from the slog and it is probably another 14 hours before anything else of interest happens. The ending contains a few moments of minor satisfaction, but little else.
It appears, from some of the reviews, that a previous audio edition was released without Roy Dotrice narrating. The version I listened to has Dotrice, but his performance left something to be desired. He apparently did not listen to any of his previous work to refresh his memory. His pronunciations of names vary wildly from previous versions and his voices, particularly for Arya who now sounds like one of his old crone characters, are so off from the previous versions as to create a distraction. I think Dotrice is an excellent narrator, but he would have benefited from a refresher course on the material.
All in all, this book was a tremendous disappointment. I will go on to book 5, as I remain ever hopeful.
Everyone keeps thinking that Dotrice didn't do book four. He did! And it stinks. He changed almost all the voices to the characters. The story was great but the audio just makes me grit my teeth. Like Dull Ed going from sounding like an idiot to sounding like a whiskey drinking old man. It just stinks!
Lets hope book 5 is better.
It is fun to go into this alternate world, set in medieval type culture.
Aria Stark, she is a little girl who has had amazing experiences and unusual training.
His voice is very soothing, which is important in a long reading. Some voices were not distinctive enough, but overall good performance.
Way too long. More fun to spend time with the whole series over the summer!
You must be patient with this one, and try to keep up with all the different characters.
Perhaps when the sixth book in the series comes out on Audio. I'd be tempted to enjoy volumes 1 through 5 once again before diving headlong into Book 6. And again, before listening to the 7th. (Given Mr. Martin's penchant for having his fans wait quite some time between these brilliantly written books, I think I'd have plenty of time to listen to Mr. Dotrice's narrative between volumes!)
Not yet having finished this volume I can't rightly say. If I had to choose from amongst the characters I've come across so far, I'd have to say Arya for two reasons: First, she has survived the first three volumes -- which for this series is quite an accomplishment! Second, we can see her growing, maturing throughout the story. I quite enjoy the chapters written in her point of view.
His ability to bring to life every single character, from the all-important point-of-view characters down to the most insignificant minor players with but one or two lines.
I don't think I could. As delicious a story as it is, as with every grand meal one must take a break every now and again.
I purchased the 4th audio book in the series some time ago after having listened to the first three that were narrated by Mr. Dotrice. I was surprised to find the 4th narrated by someone else - Mr. John Lee. Having listened to Mr. Dotrice's voice over the first three volumes, to me it had become synonymous with the series. This new voice lent the book a completely different flavor. It wasn't that Mr. Lee was doing a poor job of it. On the contrary - his style lent itself to the story quite well. It's just that he wasn't I'd become accustomed to. So I set it aside for a time. When I found the versions of Books 4 and 5 that *were* read by Mr. Dotrice, I happily purchased them all immediately, started listening and haven't looked back!
My only negative comment about Mr. Dotrice's narrating would be the manner in which he portrays some of his female characters' voices. Granted, most men -- especially those with a voice like that of Mr. Dotrice -- can't be expected to pull off the voice of a 13-yr-old girl. But to make her sound the way I would expect Shakespeare's three witches to sound in Macbeth - scratchy and raw with a healthy dose of Scottish brogue -- that tends to put something of a strain on the ears.
I do not understand how the same person that has read literally hundreds of hours of the same book suddenly starts saying some of the names differently compared to the previous 3 books.
Especially in the very beginning it's clear he is not sure how to pronounce some of the names so they differ from sentence to sentence. It gets better towards the end, but it's still funny that Petyr Baelish has suddenly become Peter for example.
ROY DOTRICE. See Below.
Most of this book is told through Cersei. Which is annoying, because she is such a horrible crazy person. Each new paranoid rambling of hers is worse than the last.
At least one significant character that was featured repeatedly in previous books is reportedly killed "of screen." It's just reported like it had no significance.
Several of the best characters are not featured in this book AT ALL, or almost not at all.
He is possibly the worst reader I have ever heard. Most of it is probably not his fault. A good producer would have caught his mistakes and had him correct himself, but that didn't happen. He miss reads words, and mistakes who is talking. He mixes up the voices he uses for characters and changes pronunciations (of names, places, objects...), not just from book to book in the series, but also within a single book. This WHOLE series needs to be redone with a proper producer.
The story carries on and this is the shortest book by far. I can only hope that the 5th book saves the series.
This book really did a great job expanding characters and filling in spots in the plot but it was very tough for me to get into it in the beginning. about 1/3 of the way into the book I was hooked though (as I am with all of R.R. Martin's books) If you are reading this series and hit this book with the same issues I had don't worry - it is worth it - I'm already half way through book 5... love 'em!!
Inconsistent voices and narrations, full of changing accents - not only varies from book to book but chapter to chapter so characters are poor and often sound the same and when there is dialogue it sounds like a monologue... lazy and shoddy.
I would have to agree with an earlier review that the voice acting changed significantly in this book. Many of the characters has drastically different voices even though Dotrice narrated all of the book. Made things pretty confusing sometimes.
Overall a great story, but this book seemed to get a little bit slow. Some of the characters that were really lively and interesting were either killed off or got a bit boring. Nonetheless I will certainly be continuing the story.