After book 3, I was gutted to find out Roy Dotrice didn't do the narration for book 4. Instead, some talentless no-mark got the gig and, almost without exception, made an absolute dog's dinner of it.
So imagine my delight when Dotrice returned for book 5!
And then I started listening...
I've praised Dotrice's work previously because he gave a huge range of characters a unique and consistent voice. Why then does he suddenly elect to give a young girl the screwed up voice of a yokel crone when previously she'd been anything but? Why then does he take what was previously a rich, husky female voice and again turn it into something more suited to a wart-nosed witch? Yes, the majority of the characters are as they were, but these two aren't the only jarring changes but they are by far the worst.
And then there's the story. The previous books had intrigue, shocks, revelations and great characters and a wide but still cohesive narration that was occasionally interspersed with chunks of 'nothing much happens'. This book still has the intrigue etc, but it also has great swathes of text where characters just... really... don't... do... much. At all. I'm looking at you Daenerys, you wishy washy sack of absolute tedium. Other characters that have been dead since before book 1 suddenly take centre stage. Martin has never been shy of offing major characters but he seems to be developing a taste for occasionally resurrecting them without really seeming to have good reason. The cast just keeps getting bigger and more complex. The chronology of events from one place to the next gets tricky to follow.
Dragons feels more like a book from an author who's created too much 'stuff'' in his world trying to give it all time in the sun so he can get it straight. As a result, the tale sometimes seems a little forced and occasionally 'round peg, square hole' as pieces are forced into places and events that just lack.. something.
Still, if anyone can tie it all together in the end, it's GRRM.
Juliette, who has every characteristic of the indomitable hero and none of the cliches that usually go with it. Great character and if they ever make a TV series of this (and they really should - it's perfect for the medium), there'll be no shortage of actresses who want the gig.
Juliette. See above.
Yup. Couldn't manage it but one day I'll go on holiday and devour the trilogy on a beach whilst cooking in the sun.
Thanks to the other reader reviews that made me give the trilogy a whirl. Most appreciated.
An original idea.
It was just so formulaic and predictable. Narration was a bit too 'trailer voice-over guy' to give the story any impact, which didn't help, but the characters are just paper-thin. There's treachery, but you see it coming. All is not what it seems, but you see it coming. It's a story that's been done many times and usually better than it's done here.
He's a good narrator in that he's clear and his voices are fairly distinct from one another, but he just can't wind in the 'square jawed hero' voice. Like I said, often his narration sounds like an audition for trailer voice-over work; it was a time of warrrrr.
Nothing, I just didn't click with the story. Some people probably will.
At least I listened to the entire story, so it couldn't have been that bad.
I'm a big Stephen King fan and have very much enjoyed his last couple. While this wasn't classic King, it was certainly an enjoyable listen.
Finding out what happened to Danny Torrance after The Overlook burned down was the most interesting. Find out about The True Knot and, in particular, Rose the Hat, was often dull and predictable.
I have; Alas, Babylon (which was fantastic). He's pretty good here and I have no problems with his narration, though he does sometimes get a bit over-wrought.
Way more worthwhile than answering the same question you asked first off in this review. Allow me to cut and paste...'I'm a big Stephen King fan and have very much enjoyed his last couple. While this wasn't classic King, it was certainly an enjoyable listen.'There. Happy now? Good. Moving on...
Not his best but plenty good enough. The middle third especially is outstanding, but the first third is too long and windy and the climax is oddly formulaic for King, something which can arguably said for most of the story. It feels like a good idea not quite seen through, if that makes sense.
I've read a lot of Bryson books and the ones he narrates are always a cut above their print versions. His voice is (unsurprisingly) perfect for his books. The audio-books of his work that are NOT read by the man himself, however, are to be avoided at all costs. I'd rather listen to abridged Bryson read by him than unabridged read by someone else.
Really only other books by Bryson. Pick one. Down Under, A Walk In The Woods, Life & Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid (probably closest in terms of painting a portrait of a time gone by), At Home... the list goes on. There's no other author quite like him.
The unfolding story of Charles Lindbergh, how this wholly uncharismatic man and genius pilot was made into an unwilling and often bewildered American legend.
No (it's not that kind of book really) but all of it entertained me.
If you like Bryson, you will love this. If you don't like Bryson, there's no reason to think this one will change your oddly tasteless mind.
But if you've never given Bryson a try, I genuinely envy you. Start immediately. Buy half a dozen of his non-language books (not my cup of tea) that are read by him (no other narrator is capable of voicing his voice, so to speak), take a long weekend away from distraction, and relax. I very much doubt you'll regret it.
You see, it doesn't matter what or who or when Bill Bryson turns his gaze onto, what matters is that it's his gaze. He is sublimely gifted at looking at the most mundane or well known of events and showing you that, truth be told, you were almost completely misinformed about it, assuming you were informed at all.
I'm not American. I have little interest in American history or the 20s in general. I have no fascination for Lindbergh or Babe Ruth or Al Capone or any one of the other characters, big or small, that fill this book. The folly of Fordlandia doesn't matter to me. Baseball and boxing from the 20s is a subject I've never pondered on. The race to be first to cross the Atlantic by plane is a subject I know nothing about other than Lindbergh was first and he was loved for it.
But all of that changes when it's Bryson telling me about these things. He picks out the most wonderful details and anecdotes, gives them a life of their own and makes you fascinated by the same things you didn't give a hoot about before you started listening.
He's just a wonderful author.
That some people still refuse to think of King as anything other than simply a horror writer baffles me. Even at his worst he's considerably more entertaining, inventive and downright readable than most authors are at their best.
On Writing is simply King advising authors how to improve their skills. It's a nuts and bolts 'how to' guide really but, as with most things King writes, there's way more to it than that. Yes he deals with everything from punctuation and vocab to finding an agent and getting published, but along the way he talks openly about his own journey.
From his first big payday to alcoholism, from drug abuse to being almost killed by someone who might have been a character from one of his own books, On Writing is tightly written and yet never feels lightweight. And King's account of the aftermath of being hit by a van whilst out walking is some of the most wince-inducing horror I've ever read.
Go in as cold as possible.
Guy finds an apartment that's too good to be true in a house that gets weirder the more he looks at it. Throw in some terrific supporting characters, a good backstory and some real head-scratching oddities and this is pretty much a must-read. It's just entertaining as hell and the narration is sublime.
Add it to your library.
I've always been a big fan of Steele and Coyote was one of his best books. The narration can be. A. Little. Stilted. Sometimes. as Ganim seems hell-bent on turning every word into it's own sentence sometimes, but it doesn't grate as much as you might think.
The story is familiar enough; the Earth's pretty much given all it has to give mankind and as a result he needs to relocate. A suitable planet is found and a ship built to get there with a hand-picked cargo of settlers. Trouble is said suitable planet will take 300+ years to reach and the crew have other ideas about who should be making the trip.
The story itself is terrific, with a near-future Earth that feels tangible (and often quite probable) and an alien world that is familiar enough to make sense and alien enough to be compelling. The account of the voyage there is a standout and an early treat in a substantial story.
I love Bill Bryson's writing, really I do. His books, audiobooks included, are some of my favourite and most revisited. And Down Under is a great book that is wholly ruined by the narrator, a whiny, pinch-voiced man who manages to take Bryson's wit and give it an air of smugness, sometimes bordering on spite. I don't know if I just despised the narrator because he was awful or because he was so utterly unsuitable to read Bryson. It doesn't help that he attempts accents and can't do them, making both English and Australian voices grating and high-pitched.
Honestly, the narrator ruins the book, but if you want this or several of Bryson's other, earlier, books, then this is the standard you get. I loathe abridged books but at least they're read by the man himself.
An absolute modern classic book evolves into an absolute modern classic audiobook. Gaiman is one of my favourite authors (write more, damn you!) and American Gods is maybe his finest work. This is pretty much my favourite audiobook thus far.
I quite liked the authors previous books, Daemon and Freedom, but I read them as opposed to listening to them. I'm kind of tempted to read this one but I don't think it will make much difference. It's just not a very good story delivered with not very good narration.
It's just so very, very average and jammed full of every possible thriller cliche going; tough but sensitive action hero, beautiful but suprisingly capable scientist heroine, a supporting cast of one dimensional stocking fillers of assorted ethnicity. You know one or two of the minor supporting players will die but you also know none of the big ones will. You know it will all be fine in the end, lessons will be learned, love will blossom and any movie adaptation will be terrible and probably star Nic Cage.
And then there's the narration, which is as one-dimensional as the writing, all chewed gravel and gritted teeth.
It's just so utterly, depressingly predictable. If you've read/listened to any number of formulaic Michael Crichton-lite action/sciencey books then cross this off your list.
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