The story was good, but I was a little disappointed by the reading. I also didn't notice that this one was abridged until after I got it. I chose this version over the other one (which is unabridged) because of the narrator (I'm a Doctor Who fan).
You get 1 hour less content on this abridged version, and you have to deal with a very dynamic range of the narrator. Normally, a dynamic range in reading is good, but the soft parts are too soft (couldn't hear some words while riding in the car), and the loud parts were speaker rattling since we had turned it up to hear the softer parts. Overall, the first 30-40 minutes of the book are very hard to understand.
I enjoyed the overall performance, but I feel like this could have been edited a little better to make it a better listen.
As for the story, I actually liked the movie's version better than this one. My kids ask to listen to this occasionally, but they don't get into it as much since it is so hard to listen to in the car. The difference in the story line doesn't really matter to them, but it is very forgettable and not something they beg to listen to.
So, I listened to this entire series (including the lost stories) and I really enjoyed it. The details given to things like stealth and archery discipline was really enjoyable. The full character development that the main characters experience was excellent and you really feel like you are growing up with them throughout the series.
However, be prepared to spend 2 credits for every story after the first one. Yes, the books are just 1 credit each, but starting in book 2, you only get half of a story in each book. That was very annoying, but the books were long enough and I got some credits/books on sale so it was still worth it.
I feel like this book is the only one that stands on its own as a complete story.
I like the narrator for this (Keating), but I prefer the alternate narrator (Stuart Blinder). Unfortunately, audible did not have all of the books narrated by him (only 2 and 5). So, I stuck with Keating even when I got to book 5 since the change was too jarring (different pronunciations and accents on characters).
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the medieval type fantasy genre with swords and bows. It is targeted toward the early to mid-teen age (I think) but I enjoyed it at twice that age. The language and the content is safe for family listening (depending on your tolerance for violence, it is full of action) so it would work well for family trips. It might be a little intense for listeners under 10. I'll let my kids listen to it in a couple of years (mine are 6 and 8 right now) but I doubt they will really enjoy it until they are a bit older.
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