Once again, Planer delivers a great performance. Although I didn’t particularly care for the voice he chose for Mort, at least it was very consistent and instantly identifiable in dialogue. In particular, I liked when Planer mixes the voices of Death and Mort to create a unique accent as needed in one particular set of scenes. Those who have listened to the first three books of the series will immediately notice the lack of reverberation in Death’s voice, but that’s probably just as well, since Death has so much to say – it might have been harder to listen to with additional voice effects. Pratchett writes a, once again, excellent novel: full of humor and laugh out loud moments intermixed with a deeply enjoyable, though somewhat predictable, plot. The only complaint I observed was the engineering of the recording. The volume and quality continually change at each obvious break in the recording session process.
Compared with the first 2 books of the Discworld, Equal Rites is an unfortunate victim of a "near-Rincewind experience." With the main characters of Esk and Granny Weatherwax being women, it seemed only right that Celia Imrie perform the narration. From the opening paragraph, however, the breathy voice of Imrie distracts the listener almost immediately. In addition, there are no indications of chapter or scene breaks other than long pauses. Unfortunately, long pauses are all to common in the middle of scenes as well, so it's hard, at first, to tell when one scene stops and the next begins. One excellent aspect of Imrie's reading is the voices used for Esk and Weatherwax as they are both superb -- the other voices (especially male) fall short. And, in fact, one scene brings back the voice of death from the Nigel Planer readings of the first 2 novels -- again, a major distraction.
As for the writing itself, Equal Rites falls flat with a rather anti-climactic and "so why did I bother to read this" ending. The plot is interesting, if predictable, and there are several laugh-out-loud moments indicative of Pratchett's work. All in all, it could have been worse, but it should have been better.
Nigel Planer’s narration breathes life into the characters like few other narrators can. As an audio book, The Colour of Magic is wonderfully easy to enjoy. Pratchett’s memorable characters and witty writing make this introduction into Discworld fun. I literally laughed (more than once) while listening to this audio book, and that’s a rare event for me. Turn magic and fantasy writing on its head – read The Colour of Magic.
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