I read this book in print form as a major fan of Terry Pratchett, and frankly only managed to get through it by trying to pick out the parts that Terry Pratchett wrote.
Listening to this book, however, is a completely different experience. The narrator is fantastic, and the story just takes shape, gripping you with characters which just burst to life and set you laughing out loud, looking like a crazy person to everyone on the bus. This happens to me quite a lot, though, and if you can't take a joke by now, you're not worthy of this book.
I fear I will never be such a Neil Gaiman fan as I am a Terry Pratchett fan, but I can say that Gaiman's books translate into audio far better than Terry Prachett's, and I highly recommend them.
The His Dark Materials series is just an amazing work in general. Since this audiobook is produced by full cast audio, it's narrated by its author, Philip Pullman. In some cases, I would argue that this tradition is not a great one, since not all authors make good narrators just because they know what they're talking about. Philip Pullman, however, is amazing, and the casting for all the other voices is superb as well. Fantastic story, great production, excellent buy.
The main problem I have with Full Cast Audio is that, regrettably, they use Tamora Pierce as a narrator. Having actually met Tamora Pierce, I can say that she doesn't sound nearly so slow/dreary/synthetic in person.
If you just listen to audiobooks without focusing on something else, you probably won't have the patience for FCA, which is a very small production, primarily because of the narrator. I like to do crafts, and I managed to settle into it, but I listen to the words more than the voices. I don't know how it will be for you. On the other hand, if you're listening to this book, you've probably listened to the first two and have decided that you can deal with Tamora Pierce's narrating already.
Also unfortunate is that because FCA is so small, the final book in this quartet is not yet finished, and the release date keeps getting pushed back. I believe it is currently set for June 2010, but it's original release date was in '09, so... cross your fingers or read the physical copy.
Having said that , I found this book to be really quite enjoyable, and if you liked the first two books of the immortal series, then I think you'll quite like this third. The animal characters were ridiculously enjoyable, and you really have to admire the author's sense of humor. She is a fangirl at heart.
When I purchased this audiobook, people seemed to take issue with the characters being whiny. To this, I say that you take issue with the characters being real. If you don't like character development, you won't like this series. The characters are tangibly real and the storyline grabs you. The narration is a little odd, sometimes the voice sounds like a stereotypical anchorman voice, and sometimes it sounds more normal. Apparently it's the same guy, but I think his voice has split personalities if that's the case. It's still good, and worth a listen in my opinion.
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