After listening to dozens of audiobooks, Simon Jones has quickly become my favorite reader. With an easy-to-understand British accent, excellent vocal range and pacing, perfect enunciation and terrific character voices, he does yet another outstanding job with this book.
The book itself is something kids and adults will enjoy. The main characters, Nathaniel (a young magician's apprentice), and Bartimaeus (a demon conjured by Nathaniel and forced unwillingly to do his his bidding) are well-developed and brought engagingly to life by the reader. Bartimaeus's wry comments about Nathaniel and life in general will have the listener chuckling quite often.
Nathaniel is somewhat of an anti-hero at first; he's deceitful, proud, arrogant, and above all impatient to prove and test his abilities, which of course causes all kinds of tragedy, mayhem and suspense.
The author's style of writing several chapters first from the demon's viewpoint and then the boy's keeps things quite interesting and engaging. We get to see what's motivating both of them from different vantage points, and it works well to keep the story flowing smoothly and provides a cliff-hanger or two when we switch from one to the other.
Simon Jones also reads book 2, which is every bit as good as this one. Both are well-worth repeated listenings. Here's hoping he reads book 3 as well.
I won't rehash what's been said about the book itself already; if you liked Ender's Game, you MUST read Ender's Shadow. And I do mean read, not listen. This was the first audiobook I ever stopped listening to halfway through because it was so aggravating.
First off, the narrator seems to be whispering most of the time, and turning up the volume might cause your speakers to blow or eardrums to bleed when he does speak loudly. Also featured in the production is a fellow with such a deep voice he puts James Earl Jones to shame. I believe he narrated Ender's Game as well, and I didn't like him then either.
Secondly, having read the actual book before, I can say without any doubt that this abridged version is a real hatchet job. Authors normally abridge their own works, so I can't imagine why Card would cut out so many key scenes of his story. Without giving anything away, gone is Bean living with Sister Carlotta, gone is Bean's first meeting with Petra, gone is the whole initial exploration of the air vent along with the explanation as to why Bean is doing unusual excercises...
It was at this point that I gave up out of sheer frustration. Read the book!
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