I have read this series several times over the past 20+ years and never tire of it. Zelazny is imaginative and spices the dialog with just the right amount of reflective commentary and occasional humor. The only lulls in the story are the infrequent, but detailed, descriptions of passing through shadow. While this might be great for someone who jumps into the middle of the series and only reads one book, I didn't benefit from its repetition. They give the reader/listener a good feeling for what Zelazny was visualizing. But, for those who are progressing through the series, these periods of "shadow manipulation" dialog become a down-draft when you'd rather be soaring.
Regarding narration, I prefer Alessandro Juliani's performance to Wil Wheaton's. This is not to say Wheaton's performance detracts from the story; not at all. It's the comparison to Juliani's performance for the Corwin Chronicles that elicits my opinion. Juliani has a good command of voice specialization and identification for each character and manages these identities extremely well. Once you make the connection of the voice to the character you no longer need Corwin said, or Julian said, or Random said. Wheaton's voice is rich and easy to listen to; it's just not what I was used to after the Corwin Chronicles and Juliani' versatility.
I'm 60 now and I plan on listening to this series several more times before I pack it in. Over the years, when asked what I like to read and what my favorite books are, this series is always part of my response.
If you like fantasy, action and a good story-line you will find this series a pleasant escape from the more mundane activities of daily life.
Zelazny's imagination, clean prose, reflective commentary and occasional humor make this series a perennial treasure. Juliani's narration is superb. At first I felt his voice was a little too high pitched for the Corwin I had created in my mind but that passed quickly. Juliani's ability to specialize unique voices for each character made this series a treat. I like to let 4 or 5 years go between reading/(listening to) this series and Juliani's performance has added a sense of depth to the environment that is quite welcome and will be a pleasure to listen to again in the coming years.
Critique is easy. Being Captain Hindsight is easy to fall into but, it is not a desired end-state for me. that being said, I will keep my, "I wish he would have's" to the absolute minimum. Zelazny's detailed description of the characters' experience while manipulating shadow is at first interesting and upon repeated servings less than satisfying. These shadow manipulation transitions always precede impending action sequences and leave one skimming the text or putting the narration on 1.5x -2x when they come up a 2nd, 3rd and 4th . . . time. For me, that is the end of the downside to this series and fortunately they don't occur frequently.
This is, for me, a defining fantasy series for it's magic system. Also, the main characters in both this and the Merlin Chronicles are easily assimilated into an extension of the reader's persona. Zelazny was very imaginative and his writing is easily digested by this reader. I highly recommend this series to all of those who like fantasy and are looking for something beyond the coming of age hero who struggles with being special, fights a dark force and wins at great victory for the side of good. This series has mature characters, already at peace with their power and the evil they fight to overcome is the same evil that resides in all of us.
Do yourself a favor, if you've never read this series, read it. If this audio performance will be your first introduction to the Corwin Chronicles then you will be well served by Juliani's performance.
To name a few, I've read the works of King (Dark Tower Series), Salvatore, Sanderson, Howard, Jordan and Tolkien ranging from sword and sorcery to epic fantasy (not quite certain how to classify the Dark Tower). The characterization and world creation found in T. C. Rypel's Deathwind Triology holds its own with these works. It is not as eloquently mixed on the mental pallete as the Lord of the Rings but it easily matches, or betters Howard's Conan series and Salvatore's Dark Elf offerings. I must say, I'm baffled by the previous reviewers inability to follow the story. It speaks more, perhaps, of a personal issue or disability than the abililty of this writer to tell a story.
I have found with this series that the story and it's main character matures as the series progresses. The first installment is perhaps rougher than the books that follow but this is at its essence, sword and sorcery. The main characters are designed for chopping up someone or something. For the sword and sorcery storyteller to fashion a broader story arc, that spans several books, is a risk. Sword and sorcery stories in the Howard fashion are complete in one book. Rypel desired to go beyond one book and has placed the seeds of that desire in this first work. Perhaps that is a source of confusion for some but it was not the case for me.
I've given four stars to the narrator simply because having read this series several times over the past 20+ years I find the narrator's delivery heavier and perhaps more stolid than what I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, four stars is far from a bad thing!
This is a good series and deserves a positive rating; I hope I've fulfilled that objective.
I was ready for a good listen when Dr. Collins started his reasoning with a discussion of the inherent good that seems to be found in each human no matter where they are located. I became significantly disenchanted with this monologue when Dr. Collins gracefully swept from the frequent and non-detrimental DNA coding errors in the "junk" area of the helix into the rare but most often disastrous and life threatening errors that occur in the active area of the helix. He did this in at most three well crafted sentences. He then summed up the inevitability of evolutionary cross species development in another three or four sentences. He clearly sees how sharing similar genes and DNA sequences inevitably leads to the conclusion that we evolved to our current state of special variety through a string of fortunate errors. While accepting the possibility of a Designer he glibly dismisses the possibility of this Designer reusing successful sections of the DNA sequence to create new species. The dismissal of "creative reuse" by a Designer was dismissed within one or two sentences. I am not a proponent of "creative reuse" anymore than I am of "fortunate error" in DNA sequencing but I am left flat by this distinguished man's elucidation during this part of the book. I was disappointed enough that it soured me on the overall message. I found his personal story enjoyable but could have done without his songs (he does have a nice voice though). My rating of two stars is based on comparing this book to the quality of science based presentation found in "Darwin's Black Box".
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. I am on the last book of the series and am sorry it will soon be over. The narrator is engaged and his narration is excellent; being very distinct between the characters throughout each book and consistent across the books. The humor is often raw but that happens to be the way I like it. It is a masculine oriented environment and all dialog reflects this orientation whether male or female characters are speaking.
The best way to describe the feel of the books is to envision a clever mixture of Conan the Barbarian, the Gunslinger by Stephen King and The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. For me, the number of characters you follow as the adventure unfolds is enough to keep the storyline fresh and the reader engaged.
If you are looking for a series that keeps the action meter pegged, the humor quotient in the acceptable zone and several opportunities for introspection then this series is for you.
I have recommended this series to several friends and I recommend it to you.
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