There's a reason this and the followup (A Deepness in the Sky) are in any top 25 SF list. Fantastic books, and certainly worth the somewhat higher than normal price.
With that said though, you can't help but notice that the tone of the narrator often doesn't truly reflect the adult and serious nature of the story being read. It's good narration for sure, but often the content and narrator tone just don't seem to match. I almost regret not buying the paperback for this reason, so my minds voice could capture the suspense and all seriousness of the situations that often gets lost in elocution by Mr Larkin. But I'm not disappointed. Still 5 stars.
The book is good, the narration, and production, is ruinously bad. You probably won't even notice just how bad it is until you're on your second or third book narrated by Mr. Davis.
Male characters (Book of the New Sun series, The Sprawl Trilogy, The Windup Girl): Despite the context all male main characters are presented as rough, deliberate, and slightly depressive. It's not so bad really, until you hear how Mr. Davis represents female characters.
Female characters: If you were reading Shadow of the Torturer you'd expect Agia to be a sweet, perhaps lively, spitfire; that's how your mind would naturally present her. Mr. Davis presents her and all main female characters as so subdued that you're afraid the female will throw herself off a cliff or cut her wrists at the nearest convenience. It's not just the tone used, but also the speed at which their dialog is read which must be at least half the speed of the normal dialog flow. It's maddening.
It's not just the depressive, suicidal, main characters it's also the flow of the dialog itself that is entirely counter to the natural way any given person would read a book. Naturally a reader will speed up as climactic events unfold. Jonathan's narration is so dull and deliberate, regardless of climactic context, you could use it to calibrate a metronome. And if you want that metronome at half speed, find some female dialog.
To the producers: Don't have ANY music playing by the time the book starts, don't have ANY music playing BEFORE THE BOOK ENDS. Those two times are the most critical, and yet the production team of this audiobook thought it would be a good idea to ruin both the introduction and the end of the book with nonsensical music. I didn't want to know the book was about to end.
Authors: If you have some good sci-fi or fantasy that you want totally ruined, hire these producers and Jonathan Davis again.
Listeners: Buy the paperback.
Pay attention to the comments made by others here and buy a hard copy of the book.
Every time the narrator says Kovak with a hard "K" instead of the proper (and importantly well explained pronunciation of the name in the first book) "ch" I would cringe (which occurred at least once per paragraph throughout the book).
On top of that Kovak's flashbacks (like when he flashbacks to Inanin in the first two books) are all done with a cheap reverb effect that makes the entire segment virtually unlistenable.
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