What marvelous silliness! So many outrageous moments! Laugh out loud fun! What a surprisingly twisted tale. And Jim Dale's rendition of Captain Jas. Hook singing!!... Oh, My! Definitely right up there with E. Nesbit and Ms. Travers - so glad I finally treated myself at long last... Thanks, Amazon & Audible :)
This is the first book I read by one of my favorite authors, the one that made me look for others, and an excellent example of her work. The narrator has a very warm, clear and intimate style, and is perfect for this book; the voice characterizations are excellent and subtle. This tale has several different story arcs that are related and intertwined, but not tangled or confusing, and are each as satisfyingly resolved as a short story could be, yet are important enhancements to the whole. The level of scientific speculation, while integrating wonder and even a nod to archetypal horror fantasy elements, is simply amazing. There is one first person protagonist, and several secondary characters who are presented in intimate third person, and even tertiary characters are well developed; the reader gains a great view of their motivations and development, and true empathy for many. This is a rich stand-alone story and rewards any number of re-readings, more complex even than the Black Sun Rising trilogy (also among my favorite books); highly recommended idea and character driven speculative fiction. Only possible improvement would be a Kindle edition with Whispersync (but not truly necessary).
I thought this narrator did a fine job. The many non-English names and words sounded about the same as rendered by the narrator of the first trilogy. The queen was a bit harsh but ok, and I adjusted to the somewhat older voice for Imriel by imagining him telling his memoirs rather than imagining the narration was 'real time'. After a few chapters it was fine. I've only listened to this third book so far (I've read them), and it's possible it's the best of the 3. I thought the narrator did an especially effective and subtle differentiation between the two 'personalities' of Imriel - it really enhanced my enjoyment of the story and gave it more depth and drama. The only character that sounded totally wrong to me was Mavros, but I could live with it. All together a fine listen.
In Chapter 3, on page 24, during Queen Ysandre's speech, a paragraph is skipped and the next paragraph is read twice, but the whispersynch stays aligned. For those without the text, the two paragraphs are as follows:
There was a genuine ache behind her words, and I did not think she took any pleasure in the fierce nods of agreement from those assembled on the left of the hall. I'd had my differences with Ysandre, but I'd never doubted she loved Terre d'Ange.
"Blessed Elua cared naught for crowns and thrones," she said quietly. "Those words, I'm told, were spoken by Melisande Sharizai."
This trilogy is one of my very favorite reads. Mr. Bray does an amazing job with the voices, especially the unhuman voices. Highly recommended to anyone who already thinks they might want it, and to those who enjoy an intricately plotted, character driven, richly detailed story which explores the natures of good and evil, altruism and self-interest, and unlikely allies. This is a complex series, yet each book comes to a satisfying conclusion, so one is not left hanging should one decide to stop after the first (hard for me to imagine, but tastes do vary). If you enjoy admiring an attractive villain, there are few as attractive as Gerald Tarrant, and Damian Vries makes an excellent hero as well.
The volume level is far too low for enjoyable listening. Even at maximum volume on both my Kindle Keyboard and the plugged in speakers, I lost parts of the story whenever ordinary household noises occurred. Narration and music were in somewhat closer balance than The Shoebird, but not engineered well enough to keep.
I love Jim Dale. The story is delightful. The music is good. The choir sings angelically. (though the 'songs' are mostly brief repetitive phrases). Unfortunately, the relative volumes of the narration and the music make the total listening experience rather unpleasant. In order to hear Jim Dale I had to raise the volume on both my FireHD and the plugged in speakers to maximum, and still missed some if my dog walked past or I turned on the water. At this level, the music was far too loud, though not deafening. However, the end blurb from Brilliance Audio WAS almost deafening (at that level) - apparently the only part of the production at a 'normal' volume. It was fun enough it was ALMOST worth it ... but no. I hope they remaster this and normalize the sound levels. Jim and Samuel deserve the award. Brilliance does not.
I loved him in Peter Pan, I adore his rendition of Alice in Wonderland. Jim Dale has a marvelous narrator's voice, and is excellent at making and maintaining unique character voices. His voice is very comfortable to listen to and yet distinct, and is a large part of what makes the TV show "Pushing Daisies" so delightful. I know there are many versions of classic books, and I have not listened to any other Peter Pans or Alices, but I can highly recommend this version, and am thinking seriously of looking into the Harry Potter audio books, mainly because others have mentioned that Jim Dale also did those.
Jeff Woodman's characterization of the several different voices, even the few women - all sounded natural and just like themselves. I read this book as a teenager in the 70's, and remembered it always as one of the funniest things I have ever read. It's very like The Pink Panther movies in its Murphyesque silliness. A classic.
Kelp made a great straight man.
The jail break in. Even the several added bit characters had their own unique, but natural voices, and the action was totally ridiculous and yet pretty easy to believe.
They did make a film, but I never saw it - I was afraid they would ruin it.
I'm off to see what else Jeff Woodman may have narrated. I got this book as a Kindle book first, and the Audible at a very reduced price because of this. Jeff Woodman's wonderful reading has persuaded me that Audible just might be as pleasurable as reading for myself.
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