Kim is incomparable; it stands alone. (An interesting piece of trivia: Kim Philby was named after him.) But one thing that struck me while listening this time (I've read it several times) is that Kipling's strength in his books about India was the ability of a great newspaper reporter. He stands outside the action and records it without personal commentary. I think this is why he sometimes has been labeled racist--because he recorded India exactly as he saw it, and the British of the time were frequently racist, so there are scenes showing blatant disrespect for the "black man."
There is one scene where an Indian-born Englishman--who is clearly bilingual in English and Urdu (or is it Hindi?)--trades colloquial, good-humored insults with a cranky old grandmother who is in fact the wife of one of the small hill rajahs. She loves a good battle of words, but what really wins her heart is the clearly over-the-top praise of her beauty. "O, pearl of perfection, etc." She laughs, but you can hear the wistfulness when she says, "Once upon a time, maybe, that was true." (These are not exact quotations; my memory is not that good).
Heavens, no! I think it's 14 hours long. Over 10, anyway. But when I was listening I was immersed in India and the story. And when it was over, I wished that it had been longer.
Madhav Sharma brings Raj India in all its variety to life. There are almost no women characters (the old grandmother is the notable exception) but he does teenage Kim's voice beautifully, as well as the lama, Mahbub Ali the Afghan horsetrader/spy, and Huri Babu, the self-described "fearful," and certainly fat, Bengali whose feats in espionage actually are more like James Bond's. Well, Mahbub is probably James Bond, since they're both incredibly fond of guns. But "no hurry for Huri" is still my favorite.
This is the third in the series and wrapped it all up brilliantly. Since each book is short, I listened straight through, and I did get tired of all the recap at the beginning of each new novel, but it does mean you don't have to start with the first. Though I'd highly recommend doing them in order.
Amanda Ronconi did a good job of narrating. I thought she slightly overdid the accents, however. I got very tired of that folksy, frontier accent and with the Scandinavian accent of the Vinland professor. On the other hand, I thought she did great with Wash's southern drawl.
I thought his presentation was very cartoonish, and disliked the "voices" that he chose for most of his characters. He made the action scenes sound like someone broadcasting a sports event.
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