I give this three stars because the story itself is excellent, but the recording is miserable. They balance out, mostly. I might go a bit lower. Maybe 2.5 stars, instead.
Paul Boehmer never has been a particularly moving speaker, and this audio recording is no exception. The timing is off, the voices are all similar, and the dramatic pauses are in all the wrong places. I found that throughout this recording, I was constantly distracted by Boehmer's mistakes and poor choices of intonation. Yet despite all of this, I listened to it from beginning to end. Brent Weeks does a wonderful job making his characters both infallible and flawed. Everything they do makes sense, even though the reader, and sometimes even the character, knows it's wrong. They are multi-faceted, there are some superb plot twists, and he throws in some dark and come crude humor in there for effect, but tactfully, so it never distracts the reader (or listener) from the story itself. His literary voice is very strong, but I wish there was somebody who could convey that in an audio recording. It certainly isn't Paul Boehmer.
For a young adult novel, this one is fantastic. There is a serious amount of character developement and connection as Sparrowhawk matures and grows into himself. However, I was supremely disappointed by Le Guin's choice to omit Jasper from the majority of the novel, and I was supremely disappointed with the ending. It's like she just decided to stop writing and publish the story with some random paragraph of a "fade-to-black narrator" style conclusion. It just seemed like a cop-out for someone with so much potential. I understand that there are two more installments, but those two hardly follow Ged into his Arch-Magehood. There is so much left unanswered, and it's irritating. Maybe that's the rub. Still, Rob Inglis does a fairly excellent job with reading the story, and I appreciate much of what Sparrowhawk goes through, if in a different way than the way he experiences it. A non-life-threatening, non-magical, non-epic-hero way.
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