I was very much looking forward to listening to this book, having been a Holmes fan from a young age, both through the books and various films and BBC productions. Although read beautifully by the narrator, who does an excellent job of performing the different voices, I was very disappointed that the focus of the story centered primarily around the post-WWII history and culture of Japan and a male lead Japanese character. There is a brief flashback on a case that Holmes had sleuthed in the past, but this gets lost with the Japanese focus of the story. If you want a true Holmesian mystery set in Englad, I'd suggest you skip this recording and choose from the originals written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
. . . except toward the very end of Book 1, there are virtually no female characters with the exception of the dragon, Saphira. The majority of adult male characters who dominate the story (thus far) are bullying, rude, impatient with their young apprentice, and have a very aggressive style, which I didn't like; therefore, it was impossible for me to feel much empathy for them. I just didn't really care what happened to them. When we finally do meet what may develop into an important female character in the next book, she is the typical "damsel in distress" - in this case an elf - who has to be rescued by the youthful male hero. Although an excellent first effort (which is why I gave it 3 stars), the author needs to mature beyond the stereotyping of male and female roles and get away from borrowing so much from Tolkien, i.e. develop characters, races, and worlds that are more original. I expect this will happen with each successive book as his talent as a writer gets better and he gets older. In regard to the audio recording, the narration was excellent, as the narrator is able to perform many different voices. However, I did have an issue with the way he chose to do the dragon, Saphira's, voice. It is so gravelly and growling that I found it unpleasant to listen to. Considering that Saphira represents the only strong female lead (thus far), I would have liked a less masculine rendition of her voice so that there was a feminine quality to it.
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