This book marks the beginning of Frodo the Hobbit's quest to resolve the question of the Ring of Power which hangs over the fate of Middle Earth like a menacing cloud. I read this book over 40 years ago and it has headed up (together with the others in the trilogy) my list of books to be stranded on a desert island with ever since.
Although the fantasy genre predates The Lord of the Rings, it is no exaggeration to say that Tolkien's books inspired the tsunami of fantasy fiction which is with us even today. More than once, I have read some particularly dreadful specimen of the same and thought to myself that J.R.R. Tolkien has a lot to answer for (tongue-in-cheek) but his genius speaks for itself and is recognized today. When I was in college, stating that The Lord of the Rings was a great work of fiction elicited (from my English professors) stares of incomprehension from some and mild contempt from others. As Norman Cantor has remarked, however, it is the reading public that determines whether a work is great or not and by that standard The Lord of the Rings is now a classic.
Rob Inglis is able to do the series full justice. Not only is he a superb narrator, but he can sing which is important in a work with such an emphasis on songs and music (not always the case.. sometimes I've cringed in sympathetic embarrassment as a narrator, competent in other respects, attempted to sing or chant his/her way through a song with dismal results).
In short, you can't go wrong with this series, particularly if you like stories about quests or knightly adventures. There's very little in the way of boy-girl romance however and no sex so readers who like plenty of that in their fiction may want to look elsewhere.
Or even anyone who doesn't like endless, graphic descriptions of sex with emphasis on S&M, ritualized murder, and debasement of women. I love haunted house stories and even horror stories but not stories enshrining sexual perversion & death. Haunted house stories usually involve sex at some point but this book is only about sex and demonic rituals. Overall, it was a yawn. Not scary. The horror is all about shocking (and titillating) the reader with perverse sex, death, & demons.
The narrator was not bad at straight narration but I didn't care for his character voices. His male voices mostly sounded like old men or foreigners but were not terrible. His female voices were pretty terrible although I give him points for trying. It can't be easy imitating voices of the opposite sex.
Overall, I rate the book as only 'fair.' The Legend of Hell House is a far better book in a similar vein; on the other hand, I did listen till the end.
Dark Matter is a moody, atmospheric ghost story reminiscent of James or Poe. There is little obvious gore; the horror lies in the claustrophobic struggles of the protagonist who is tormented by his inability to decide whether he is hallucinating or really being haunted by a ghost. He is temporarily alone at a pre-World War I arctic research site. The cold and the dark close him in. He is constantly counting off the days until his companions return and that return repeatedly gets delayed. His only companion (apart from a brief visit from a trapper) is an Inuit husky. How he goes from being a dog hater to having his sanity saved by a dog is one of the more interesting subplots (if you like dogs, I do). The narrator is excellent and makes the most of a good story. Recommended if you like ghost stories without a dead body every ten steps...not for action junkies.
I bought this book despite the poor reviews because I am a fan of Lovecraft inspired fiction and enjoy reading stories of the Elder Gods. Unfortunately, the bad reviews are right. Even for a fan of the Lovecraft fictional universe, this is a pedestrian effort with little to recommend it. Stereotypical characters are a feature of this genre but the thrills & chills are supposed to make up for it. In this case, they don't.
The narrator makes a mediocre story worse. Although he sounds professional when simply narrating the story, his efforts at a West Virginian accent are so bad that they suggest self-parody (perhaps this is his way of suggesting his opinion of the novel). As other reviewers have pointed out, his 'woman's voice' is not very successful either but might not have been quite so annoying if he hadn't attempted the accent on top of it.
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