Twin Falls, Idaho United States | Listener Since 2006
The two subtracted stars aren't so much because of the American pronunciations as the fact that due to the use of the same actor for multiple parts in many cases, it could sometimes become hard to follow who was speaking. This was, however, my first exposure to the world of Middle-Earth and so I'll forever have a soft spot for it. This was the version my school library had available to check out back when I was in forth grade and my teacher at the time thought it would be good for me to listen to. Not only that but when I eventually heard it I found the BBC's radiodrama more anoying than anything else, and usually I prefer the BBC to other versions. THeir Lord of the Rings is in many ways far superior to the NPR version, though the NPR version does remain more faithful in many ways. The same can be said for the two productions of The Hobbit. I really didn't like the BBC's version of The Hobbit, released back in 1968. I found the music, despite being authentically medieval and played on medieval instruments, to be very annoying. It would have been better if the Sackbut hadn't been featured so heavily. But I also couldn't get into the actors either. In that one regard I felt the NPR version superior, though it would have rated higher if they had used more actors so that one person wasn't playing two or more parts. But I liked Gail Chugg's narration and his portrayal of Gollum, and Bernard Mayes still remains a good Gandalf in my book. I also liked the music in this production, particularly their version of the Dwarves' song, which becomes more or less the main theme throughout the program. The one in the BBC version just grated on my ears. All in all though I've always found this version to be a very enjoyable listen. The acting, though a bit confusing sometimes (and yes, in some cases inappropriate), is good and the narration and music really help to tell an old favorite tale with new life.
Watchers was one of the earliest Koontz novels I ever read. In fact i couldn't put it down for long. So I was delighted to discover Audible has the self same production I listened to back in 1995.
Watchers opens with Travis Cornell, a 36-year-old former Special Forces operative and essencially retired real estate agent, who takes a drive out into the California hills to try to recapture the joy in life that he lost following the death of his wife from cancer. His life takes an unexpected turn when he encounters what he believes to be a stray Golden Retriever which warns him of danger on the path ahead. Spooked by some unsettling noises in that direction, Travis flees back to his truck with the dog. It isn't long before the dog begins displaying a level of inteligence unusual for his kind,even showing a deep fascination with Travis' large book collection. After witnessing this and the dog's uncanny ability to ope a refrigerator door without the aid of a foot peddal, reach inside and grab a can of beer for his new master, Travis decides to name the dog Einstein.
Meanwhile Nora Devon, a thirty-year-old recluse living in the former home of her late aunt, struggles to deal with the unwanted sexual advances of a TV repairman. Her life begins to change when Travis and Einstein save her from the predator on two occasions. Thanks to Travis' compassion, Nora begins to come to terms with her aunt's unreasoning bitterness toward the outside world and particularly to men. It's not long before Travis and Nora fall in love.
But Einstein, revealed now to be the product of a genetic engineering experiment designed to enhance animal inteligence and make better comunication possible, is worried that those who created him may be out to recapture him. Evenworse, he reveals that the creature from which he and Travis fled the day they met is another product of a similar experiment, a baboon-like creature known as the Outsider. Aided by Nora's attorney, the three decide to go on the run, from both the Outsider and the NSA agents out to recapture both it and Einstein.
I always like to say that when it comes to audiobooks the narrator can make or break the production no matter how good the book itself might be. FOrtunately narrator J.Charles has a good voice for narration. He's one of those who can manage not to do just a straight, flat reading even without giving every single character a different accent or dialect. He'll bring off an accent where necessary without overdoing it. In short it's easy enough to tell who's speaking at any given moment. I couldn't put it down when I checked it out from the public library back in 1995 and I couldn't again when I listened to it courtesy of Audible.
Midnight was among the first Dean Koontz books I ever read. To this day it remains among my favorites.
As the story opens, Janice Capshaw, a 35-year-old night owl and fitness enthusiast, is going for a nighttime run along the beach in the peaceful California town of Moonlight Cove when she finds herself pursued and ultimately brought down and brutally murdered by unknown assailants. Some weeks later Samuel Booker, an undercover FBI agent jaded by life and his strained relationship with his teenage son, rides into Moonlight Cove to investigate Janice's murder as well as a series of other bizarre killings in and around the town which the local authorities seem bent on covering up. Soon he meets Tessa Lockland, TJ to her mother, the younger sister of Janice Capshaw. Tessa came to Moonlight Cove to investigate Janice's murder, refusing to believe the story of suicide presented by the local authorities. Tessa was frightened into fleeing the one motel in Moonlight Cove by an attempted break-in at her room. Meanwhile Chrissie Foster, a perky twelve-year-old, flees from her home after catching a disturbing glimpse of her parents in an altered, beastlike state to wich they seek to "convert" her as well. These three take refuge with Harry Talbot, a paralyzed war veteran who witnessed many of the disturbing events in the town via a telescope in his bedroom and alerted the FBI. As they dig deeper they discover a secret so disturbing that it frightens even some of those who willingly embraced it.
As is the case with any audiobook, the narrator can either make or break the production. Fortunately J. Charles has a fine voice for narration and, while he doesn't perform hundreds of accents and dialects, he nevertheless makes it easy to distinguish between one character and another. Even the nonhuman speaking characters are well realized. All in all this is a production I can easily listen to over and over without having to worry about a cassette or a disc eventually wearing out.
This fifth installment of Incarnations of Immortality opens some years before the events of Wielding a Red Sword. It tells the story of Orb, the daughter of Niobe Kaftan. When she was five, Orb woke to the sound of a beautiful but mysterious melody and followed it. In time she learned that tis melody, called the Song of the Morning by most who knew of it and could hear it, was but one ffragment of a mysterious melody known as the Llano said to be te ultimate music. Years later Orb, now a young woman, embarks on a quest to learn as much as she can about this elusive song and, if possible, possess it. But Orb's quest for the Llano could bring danger, for it soon becomes apparent that Satan, Incarnation of Evil, has an interest in Orb and seeks to marry her in fulfillment of a prophecy made long before Orb's birth. The Llano itself also has its own dangers and, if handled improperly, could bring about the destruction of the entire world.
Unlike the first four volumes in the series, this book is not read by George Guidall. Fortunately however, Barbara Caruso has a pleasant voice for narration and a talent for expression, accents and dialects. She also has a fair singing voice, which is extremely fortunate considering the songs sprinkled liberally throughout the story. Even a good narrator can ruin a performance if they try to sing the songs in the story if they can't sing. Fortunately both George Guidall and Barbara Caruso have good singing voices. Needless to say I couldn't put it down for long.
The fourth novel of the Incarnations series tells the story of Mym, a young Indian prince. As the story opens, Mym has fled his father's cort, believing himself unfit for his station due to a severe stutter and the presence of his more desirable brother. To make ends meet, he joins a traveling circus where he meets Orb, a beautiful young woman with a unique gift, the ability to put people into a trance whenever she sings and plays her harp. With the aid of his magic ring Mym aproaches Orb and soon forms a connection with her. As time goest by the two fal in love, but Mym is soon discovered and take back to his fathher. His brother is dead, meaning that Mym must become Raja uponhis fathher's death. Mym refuses to accede to the arranged marriage, resulting in the deaths of several would-be brides. Finall his father arranges for him to spend a month with Princess Rapture of Malachite at the Honeymoon Castle, a castle with magical properties that leave the thoughts of those who reside within the grounds open to one another. As time goes by Mym discovers that Rapture is indeed worth loving and finally agrees to marry her. Before the wedding can take place, the Raja changes his mind and begins to arrange a different marriage for Mym. This results in Rapture's father declaring war on Mym's kingdom, greatly angering both Mym and Rapture. Mym's anger draws a strange red sword to him, which e takes only to learn from Gaea, Incarnation of Nature, that he is now Mars, Incarnation of War and that it is now his mission to foil the plots of Satan, Incarnation of Evil. Mym has trouble wit this concept, having come from a completely different belief system. It's not long before Satan approaches Mym, and only time will tell whether Mym will have the necessary quickness of mind to avoid falling prey to Satan's insidious plots.
All in all this is an excellent book and George Guidall does a fine job of bringing it to life. It's unfortunate that he doesn't narrate the next three books in the series.
Skein begins many years before the events of On a Pale Horse. As the story opens, Niobe, a headstrong and proud young Irish woman is betrothed to a boy five years her junior and none too pleased about it. But as her father points out, the marriage to Cedric Kaftan will benefit the family. The marriage proceeds and, as time passes, Niobe discovers that Cedric, despite seeming little more than a backwoods bumpkin, is a decent and hardworking young man with the astonishing ability to conjure an invisible but otherworldly musical accompaniment anytime he sings a song. Niobe gradually grows to love Cedric, who soon begins to share her own passion for protecting wetlands and decides to study to become a magician in order to further that goal. In time the couple welcome their son, Cedric Junior, into the world. Not long after, however, the outside world intrudes on their happiness when plans are made to drain the wetlands and build a housing development. While fighting alongside the other residents to halt this project, Cedric is unexpectedly shot to death, prompting Niobe to seek the aid of the Incarnations to try to save him. She soon learns, however, that Cedric's death had less to do with his attempts to halt development of the wetlands than with Niobe herself. She in fact was the intended target of the bullet, a fact which reminds Niobe of disturbing visions she would have when she and Cedric made love. Niobe learns that she is destined to foil Satan, Incarnation of Evil, and it was for that reason that he tried to have her killed. Cedric, it transpired, somehow learned of this and resolved to switch places with Niobe. With that knowledge, Niobe readily accepts the Incarnations' invitation for her to become one of the three aspects of Fate, resolving not to allow Cedric to have died in vain.
All in all this is an excellent read and it explains the origins of some characters and events mentioned in On a Pale Horse and Bearing an Hourglass. George Gidall as usual does a fine job with the narration. Recorded Books, I've noticed, generally tends to pick excellent narrators for the titles they put their hands to.
Bearing an Hourglass is the second installment of Anthony's Incarnations of Imortality series. It is set some years after On a Pale Horse. As the story opens, the solitary, nomadic Norton is enjoying a camping trip when he's paid a visit by a ghost who makes a strange request. The ghost, a young dragonslayer named Gawain who met is demise in battle with a dragon that actually turned out to be a dinosaur, is married to a young woman who lives on and enjoys all the benefits of Gawain's estate in exchange for producing an heir. Gawain's request is that Norton meet the girl and sire said heir. Though reluctant, Norton agrees to meet the young woman, Orlene. He quickly discovers that Orlene has the peculiar ability to see a person's aura, which manifests itself in the form of a glow, and to know the character of that individual based on that glow. Despite his best efforts Norton becomes attracted to Orlene and as Gawain hopes impregnates her. Not long after the birth, however, Gawain reappears with devastating news that ultimately causes Orlene to commit suicide. As compensation, the ghost arranges for the grieving Norton to have the chance to assume the office of Chronos, the Incarnation of Time. Though reluctant, Norto takes up the Hourglass and soon finds himself embroiled in the endless struggle againstSatan, the Incarnation of Evil, who seems bent on discrediting or otherwise neutralizing an influencial senator who could prove to be his greatest foe. Only time will tell if Norton will have what it takes to avoid Satan's subtle snares and keep Seator Kaftan safe from harm.
All in all this was an excellent story. I've always enjoyed Piers Anthony's writing and George Guidall does a fine job narrating this tale. If ou haven't already done so I heartily recommend this series, particularly the first four books. These are On a Pale Horse, Bearing an Hourglass, With a Tangled Skein and Wielding a Red Sword. The rest are Being a Green Mother, For Love of Evil, And Eternity and most recently Under a Velvet Cloak, though this last is not currently available from Audible.
I first read this series when I was in High School. Having been a fan of Anthony's Xanth series for a good two or three years and therefore become accustomed to it by then I wasn't sure I would enjoy this one as much. However, I ultimately did. Pale takes place on an Alternate Universe version of Earth, an Earth where science and magic enjoy almost equal potency, and where creatures long believed myythical I.E. Dragons, Unicorns and others are real. The story centers around Zane, a young man facing poverty and likely eviction from his meager home and desperate to improve his fortune. Visiting a shop selling magical stones, he makes a deal with its proprietor, to use a love stone to locate romance, but to let the shopkeeper take his place in that romance. Zane, for his part, will receive a stone that supposedly will bring him wealth not only to erase all his gambling debts but to have any woman he could want. It soon becomes apparent to Zane that he's been duped and, seeing no other way out, he puts a gun earlier taken from a would-be robber to his own head in preparation for suicide. Conronted suddenly by the specter of Death, Zane turns the gun on the apparition instead, which turns out to be a living man. Immediately afterward he's visited by a woman who introduces herself as Lachisis, who tells him that having killed Death he must now assume that office himself. Death, it turns out, collects the souls of mortals whose good and evil deeds in life are so perfectly balanced that they can't transition on their own. Not long afterward he makes the acquaintance of Luna, daughter of a powerful magician whose soul he collected. The magician urges Zane to protect Luna from the forces that would destroy her. But those forces willstop at nothing to see that Luna is removed from their path before she has the chance to fulfill an ancient prophecy that could tip the world's balance toward good. Can Zane protect Luna, or will he be forced to destroy her? And what other terrible choices might he have to make in order to foil the forces of evil?
Pale is narrated by distinguished actor and narrator George Gidall. Guidall may not have been my first choice for a narrator for these novels, at least that's what I thought before I listened. He does a fine job of narrating the story and his portrayals of thevarious characters didafter all turn out to be what I would have imagined. He has a talent for different accents and dialects and he has the sort of voice that lends itself to narrating all sorts of situations from calm, relaxed ones to more tense and suspenseful ones without seeming overdone. He also has a way of conveying Piers Anthony's irrepressible humor. Needless to say I wholeheartedly recommend this one.
Roland Deschein and his companions have managed to get aboard the sentient monorail Blain, thanks to the mathematical abilities of Susannah Dean's still-present alter ego Detta Walker. After narrowly surviving a deadly riddle game with the computer that controls the train, the companions find themselves in a deserted city that appears to be Topeka, Kansas. But it's in a United States that appears to have been ravaged by war and disease. Roland, urged by Eddie, Susannah and Jake, tells the story of his long lost love, Susan Delgado and the events that led to the fall of his homeland.
All in all this is a great listen. It's the last to be read by the incomparable and much missed Frank Muller. It also provides a fascinating glimpse into Roland's past. If you haven't already I definitely recommend giving it a listen.
This is a worthy conclusion to the series. It begins with the Stanton family, all of wom are home for the summer holidays. When Will's elder brother Steven intervenes in the matter of an Indian boy being teased by a group of local villagers, the family finds themselves pitted against the hateful father of one of the bullies, an encounter that reminds Will of the absolute power the forces of the Dark will wield if the Circle of Light is unable to push them back. The next stage of the quest begins that night when Meriman Lyon appears to Will and tells him that the time has come for the six signs of light, gathered during the events of The Dark is Rising, to be recovered from the place where they were hidden following their joining. The time for the final battle between the Light and the Dark is drawing near, and the forces of Light must be ready for that critical moment. Recovering the signs is the easyy part. But Will and his friends must also recover an ancient sword, the one weapon that, combined with the six signs, can bring a final end to the threat of the Dark. This sword, however, lies in the Lost Land, in the keeping of its despairing maker. Only Will and Bran Davies, the latter being the lately revealed son of the legendary King Arthur, have any hope of reaching the Lost Land, and even then they must still reach the tower where the king of that realm has hidden himself in his despair. And once there they must find some way to rouse the king from his despair and persuade him to part with the sword. Will their efforts be enough to turn back the forces of the Dark in their greatest rising?
All in all this is a worthy conclusion to the series. Alex Jennings returns for this final installment and as usual he does an excellent job of narrating it.
This was actually the first book of the sequence that I ever read. At that time I didn't know it was part of a series. This latest adventure begins when Will Stanton, last of the Old Ones, is sent to visit relatives in Whales while he recovers from a bout of Hepatitis. Soon after his arrival he meets Bran, an introverted, pale boy who seems to know something of Will's true nature and his business. It soon becomes apparent that even here the forces of the Dark, and indeed one of their most powerful lords, are at work, with the unwitting but not entirely unwilling aid of a disagreeable farmer with a grudge against Bran's father. Will the two boys be able to accomplish their mission before all is lost?
This is the only book in the series not read by Alex Jennings. Fortunately Richard Mitchley, Jennings' stand-in, has both a good voice for storytelling and a good ear for accents and dialects. This is a fairly short book but I couldn't put it down for long.
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