First, the good news. This book is wonderful; full of the insight, wit and import that made Uncle Tom's Cabin so critical. Stowe was keenly observant and quick to call something wrong when it was wrong. In this story, she still holds to her anti-slavery stand, though it is a secondary issue here. This book alone would have put her among Americas best and most important authors. Well worth the listen.
Second, the bad news. The narrator does a poor job. Her accents are horrible, and her mispronunciations jar the ear a bit. The real problem, however, is that she reads the book in a mocking manner. She treats what is serious in the book cynically, as if it were her place to let us know that the opinions expressed are somehow out of date or silly. I prefer to make those judgments myself, and not have to fight the narrator. Overall, she seems to treat the book with contempt.
Third point is that the review incorrectly implies that Stowe was mocking the Calvinist theology. Nothing could be further from truth. It is imposing 21st century thoughts on a 19th century writer. Stowe was the daughter of Lyman Beecher, sister of Henry Ward Beecher and wife of Calvin Stowe, all important figures in American Calvinism. She was certainly not criticizing the theology, though she seems to have been arguing for a softer interpretation of predestination.
Overall, don't let the narrator keep you from this book. It is not only important for the understanding of early American life, it is also well written and just plain fun.
The story was OK, but Martin is no Tolkein whom he seems to want to emulate. The violence was not frightening and the descriptions of sex was more disgusting than anything else. He seems to show an interesting mixture of having powerful women and yet treating women in general in the way that some sort of misogynistic porn producer might.
There are interesting characters and he develops them very well. It's just that Martin's writing is fairly boring. I don't mean the story, I mean the writing.
I don't want to paint a terribly bleak picture. The story does hold your attention and keep you waiting for what is about to happen. I would have liked to have him develop more of some of the characters I cared more about, but then that is personal preference.
Finally, the narration is just atrocious. Dotrice seems to think that all fantasy characters speak with an accent somewhere between a brogue and a Sheffield - Cockney mix. Several characters have their voices change halfway through the stories, and in one case in the middle of a book. At first I thought he was trying to demonstrate a significant change in the character, but no, it is just a mistake.
All in all, I give it a "Meh".
While the story is as good as you would expect, the narration is ponderous and VERY poorly done.
I must say, I was disappointed in this book. I usually enjoy Cahill, but this time it seems as if he got sloppy with his research. It does not seem as if Cahill did any original research, especially when it came to interpreting NT passages. The thinking about authorship which he follows is from early last century, much more recent study has been done about authorship and dating of documents.
The book also seemed disorganized, leaping from topic to topic. I expected more analysis of the people of the time, but that was very brief. After that, the author goes on to ploddingly espouse German Higher Criticism for the last century.
If you want to read Cahil (and I normally recommend him), read How the Irish Saved Civilization
This is a great story, though not quite as good as the earlier Leatherstocking Tales. The problem is the narrator. First, he seems to be in an incredible hurry. I get nervous just listening to him. He reads at a very fast rate. Second, there is a good deal of ambient noise including the narrators snorting and slurping. Likely this is caused by the rapidity with which he reads.
Other than that, he has a fine voice with good inflections and interest. He jsut needs to slow down.
This is a great book and a wonderful introduction to Wodehouse. The narrator, however, is overly dramatic and his voice is so deep that it is, at times, difficult to understand. Frederick Davidson is much better at Wodehouse.
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