This was my first Audible download, but it took me over almost two months to finish, in part because the tenor of the stories was all very similiar and the narrator spoke so quickly that the unfamiliar names were difficult to pay attention to, and as the book is filled with unfamiliar sounding names that made the book hard to pay attention to.
I'm not sure if the stories were as strange as they seemed because I missed key parts or if there really were leaps of narriative glossed over in the writing.
I reread this story about once every other year since being introduced to the series when I was 17. I don't want to call it a fantasy genre classic, because "classic" sounds to me like something dead, something in a style that literature has moved beyond, something of academic interest, without a draw for the current popular taste. The Deed of Paksenarrion is a vibrant tale that sweeps you up and draws you ever forward into the adventure. I love the story, and don't want to give away any serious spoilers.
Jennifer Van Dyck did not get a 1 star rating simply because she was not painful to listen to, However, she read the story like a news reporter, killing the emotional pull with a very nearly staccato, clipped speech.
There's a scene where Paks awakens in a dungeon (the first scene in a new story arch of the book), and when I read that passage, I usually have to put the book down and let the tears evoked by the pathos of the writing fall. When Ms. Van Dyck read the passage, it was damn near banal, as emotionally stripped as a newscaster side-noting, "Three shot dead in a parking garage last night. Remember to park near lights. On another note ...."
I'm not sure the headline doesn't say it all, but for those who need clarification, the cultural mores have definitely shifted a great deal in between the original publication and the 21st century. I'm not just speaking of how different the attitudes concerning ethnicity have changed. Ideals of sentence structure, character development, and plotting have all come a long way, too.
That said, taking into account the differences betwixt and between the then of its original publication date and now, it was an interesting diversion. The narration was suitably professional, though his voice wasn't to my taste.
It's an interesting set of essays linking practical philosophy and real life, but the transition parts aren't quite as easy on the ears as they sound like they should be on the eyes. The narrator, however, does a very good job of extending the personal quality of the writing. It works a lot better when she has whole sentences to read. There are lots of sentence fragments used as emphasis.
The author definitely pulls off putting philosophy into plain speech, dropping all the pomposity of abstracted intellectualism normally associated with philosophy. There are no "how many angels could dance on the head of a pin?" conversations. There are a lot of examples, like how learning about the different types of philosophy can be applied to getting over a bad break up.
The premise of the book is kind of fun, but it was not easy to get into. Mainly, the heroine is written with an unbelievable level of ignorance of "fairy tales", and the fey are written up like they were copied from Shakespeare's plays.
The "unbelievable" about her ignorance comes in because there is never a clear (or even muddy) explanation of why she hasn't had even the briefest introduction to fairy stories, yet she's a white girl living in middle America. White girl. Middle America. That isn't just prime Euro-mutt territory, it's prime North and West Euro-mutt territory. Where most of the fairy stories come from? Yeah. So, that part bothered me a lot. Until about half way through, you don't even get a decent shot at guessing why she's such an utter dunder head.
Relying on Shakespeare's conceptualization of the fey, also not a winner, but again, get past the half way point and the character building starts to pick up so they don't feel quite so ... cardboard.
The narration wasn't half bad.
I thought this course would offer more on the crafting of the stories, but it focused mostly on how to convey stories in a face-to-face, public speaking manner, from sitting rooms to auditoriums. There were a lot of points that I could see translating into crafting a story for all mediums, but not as much as I was hoping for.
I'm not taking stars off because I misunderstood what the intent was - that was my reading failure. What the course intended to cover, it covered well, though it didn't quite make it to an outstanding source.
The performance I debated with myself over. The instructor in the course obviously thought there would be a visual component, and her style of story telling, used in examples, was not to my taste. When not actually "storytelling", her instructions were clear and to the point, and the rationale clearly explained. I much preferred her lecture voice to her story telling voice.
In point of fact, I had more than a few occasions while listening where I thought that many of the narrators on Audible would benefit from this listen.
One thing that I would like is the reference list for the book. That's probably my one biggest complaint about non fiction on Audible is not getting the reference list.
That aside, the book is well written and the arguments presented are well thought out and free from obvious flaws for the average listener.
The first half of the book may be a bit slow and maybe a bit dry, but it lays out some foundation material for the second half of the book. When the authors got into the "material" evidence for their position, there were some snicker worthy euphemisms used. I shall never view a "beer fridge" quite the same, for instance.
References to current media where arguments against the book's position are available were included in the text, with directions on where to find them before the authors provided rebuttals.
I appreciated that the authors stopped short of trying to apply moral judgement to the modern Western civilization ideal of human sexuality, though they did help to provide a basis for a more ... realistic view of the difference between love and lust, and what that means for long term relationships.
Narration: It started off sounding like the story was recorded slower than it was played back, so the words were rapping out like bullets, and if there was any minor cadence changes, they got lost in the rapid speaking. Trying to listen on half speed took everything down too slow. However, the narration improved as the book went along, but the start was rocky.
Story: With the exception of my major gripe below, it was an enjoyable listen that could have used a little more polishing.
One of the more difficult things to get right is a world that's somewhat based off of ours. On one hand, it's easier to evoke an image with less words. On the other, if the author fails to provide a decent rational for significant divergences, it makes the whole story harder to enjoy. The level of government discrimination against shifters in this story was one of those unexplained over the top grumbles.
The same social effect could easily have been achieved if the author had used a "right to discriminate" guarantee or something along those lines. Adding in a 20 year time frame to get used to shifters and not having any mention of shifter groupies or other fringe pro-shifter or at least shifter-neutral forces in human society was a failure in world building.
I think this is one of the wordy books that just works better for me to read it than hear it, and there are a few of those. My husband enjoyed the experience more than I did, maybe because he could empathize with the narrator a bit better.
Mr. Inglis came across a bit like an aged (though professional) fan-boi as he was reading, and it had the same effect for me as someone trying not to laugh at their own joke - a bit too eager, a bit too excited, a bit too, too much for a first time listener to catch the funny part of the joke.
That made it harder for me to pay attention to the story - especially with all the funky linguistics - which made the story have less impact. Knowing how much everyone else I know who has read the story has enjoyed it, I'm figuring I'll get to bump up the story rating after I actually read it for myself.
As the summary says, this is the first of a 10 book series, and it kicks things off well.
Narration first. Mr. Juliani has an excellent reading voice, and managed the feminine voices without much trouble. There were sections when it seemed like the reading was on 1.5x speed, but for the most part the tempo was just about right. I'll be more likely to pick up something with him reading.
I have had a number of people recommend Zelazny to me as a Science Fiction author, and as someone who's more into the new Sci Fi than the older works, I was hesitant to give him a go. As I've matured, my reading tastes have changed to prefer character development, especially internal growth, to broad social commentary, which is what I was expecting given the people who were recommending Mr. Zelazny's work.
While this was neither social commentary, nor quite about character development, it was still a good story. The hero of the story starts off with no clue who he is, and as he uncovers more about his past, the story sucks you into a larger scale plot.
It wasn't the story type that I typically like, and yet I like it anyhow, which I find to be the mark of a good storyteller.
First off, this was a fun listen with good narration and a good plot. I'm looking forward to more in the series.
The characters are well developed, and there are enough hooks about the support cast to get you to want to know what happens to them, and what happens next in the plot.
Ms. Wright also created a back story for her preternatural beings that gives them a believable reason to be less romantic and more ... lustful is probably the best word. And that's my hold back from giving this book a 5 star rating.
This is not a book to listen to around the under 18 crowd. If it had a rating, it would be at least NC17, if not XXX.
All the characters cuss like sailors, and Ms. Wright doesn't seem to know how to write a sex scene that isn't pornographic. Nearly all of the physical contact between the main characters is sexualized to the point where they seem more in lust with each other than in love, and during the sex scenes there really aren't any "feel the love" moments, just a lot of "feel the sensations" and "can't wait for the culmination".
That said, the sex scenes are really well written porn, and Ms. Redfield reads them well. She conveys the intensity of the scenes without going so heavy into the reading that it turns voyeuristic.
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