The Hobbit is J.R.R. Tolkein's most accessible story -- it's quick, full of adventure, and a perfect introduction to the world of Middle Earth. If you've never read Tolkein before, you can't find a better introduction to his particular style of storytelling than The Hobbit. The story itself is enjoyable in any format, but the audiobook is easily my favorite. Rob Inglis does an incredible job bringing Middle Earth to life with his deep, gravelly inflection and his surprising talent for singing the many songs that fill the pages of this timeless story.
Naturally, the other books in the Lord of the Rings series fall in squarely behind The Hobbit, but the audiobook presentation is also very similar to A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones). Rob Inglis has a similar reading style to Roy Dotrice, which is perfect for these stories. So if you enjoy the Game of Thrones audiobooks, you will enjoy this as well.
Although Inglis isn't as gifted with accents and unique characterizations as someone like Jim Dale, his reading is truly spot-on for voices from the Shire, Rivendell, Mirkwood and the Lonely Mountain. But without a doubt, the thing he brings to the story that you wouldn't experience without his reading is the songs. The Hobbit is full of rambling, half-rhyming ballads sung by dwarves, elves and even goblins -- and Inglis brings them to life in a very unexpected way. More than once I took my headphones off and found one of his sing-song tunes stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
According to IMDB: "From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends."
I would say that listening to this book was time that could have been better spent on another story. Hounded was, for me, the equivalent of walking into the living room and watching whatever happened to be on TV at the moment. I probably should have changed the channel to something better, but decided to just keep watching until it was over. As good as the reviews for this series are, I expected to like Atticus and the world of gods-made-real much more than I did. I was disappointed to find the whole thing so hard to like.
Clearly this is just the first book in a series, so the ending is not really an ending at all. You know there will be more, so the climax is somewhat diminished. Ultimately, I never felt much investment in Atticus and his troubles with the gods, so the ending was as unaffecting as the rest of the story.
Daniels gives a clear, articulate performance, and I wasn't bothered by his narration at all. But it's also very blasé. He affects a half-hearted, monotonous pacing for Atticus, which makes the protagonist seem very uninteresting. Daniels' range isn't broad, so female characters sound alike and the male characters are mostly indistinguishable. Only Oberon has a truly distinct characterization, and that's due as much to the dialogue as to the reading. Perhaps the most obvious shortcoming is that Atticus is a Celtic Druid -- he's Irish. And his dialogue is clearly written with an Irish lilt. But Daniels gives him a dry, midwestern American voice, which robs the story of some of its most interesting linguistic flavor. If I could change anything about the performance, it would be to inject more energy and life into the characters. Maybe it's just me, but the whole performance felt like it was on auto-pilot ... just cruising along at a constant, uninspiring pace.
The Iron Druid Chronicles actually reads very much like a TV series in the Buffy/Angel/Smallville vein. With a good adaptation, it could definitely make for good episodic television.
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