This production does full justice to the novel. If you're familiar with Cold Comfort Farm already, that's probably all the information you need. If you aren't, you're in for a treat. Tip: don't listen to this dramatization in public places. I don't care how ironclad your control of your facial expression is-- you'll laugh, repeatedly, and everyone will give you odd looks.
Other unintended effects of this sublime work of pastoral satire include the utter ruination of any beast-based figurative language; absentminded pondering of the condiments available in hell; and worrying that cows may disintegrate when you aren't looking.
It's unusual to find a fantasy novel that features really lush, complex world-building but is still well-suited to audiobook format. Often the complexity becomes a little confusing, or the rich description muddles the plot. But Martha Wells's prose style is a perfect fit for the spoken word-- she gives just enough detail to allow you to revel in the nifty, gorgeous concepts without losing the thread of the narrative. A fortunate thing, given that the narrative is a marvelous, thoughtful, moving, and occasionally terrifying adventure.
I should say off the bat that this is foremost a plea for Audible Frontiers to produce the third novel, due out this December, as an audiobook. The Raksura series is one of the most compulsively listenable ongoing stories I've ever had the good fortune to discover, and I know I'm not the only one who'd really like to have any subsequent books to look forward to in audio form. What say you, Audible?
In any case, back to the review. The friend who recommended the Raksura series to me informed me that while the main character seems at first to have a mild case of Male Epic Fantasy Protagonist Syndrome, there is in fact a really interesting deconstruction going on. I agree! (That is to say, the story is riddled with pleasant surprises.) A lot of tropes get turned on their heads, often in a delightful fashion, and characters acquire ever more depth as the plot progresses.
The narration is merely adequate. The narrator's voice isn't exactly mellifluous, but it's not grating. While listening, on occasion I'd think, "did you pay *any* attention to the clear in-text indications of how you should have read that?" And from time to time I took issue with his rendition of female characters' lines-- he sometimes pronounces them with a tremulous quality that is, given the character and the situation she's in, totally inappropriate. But overall he reads competently, and when he doesn't, it doesn't really detract from the scene.
I'm trying to avoid any spoilers here. The tight plotting relies in part on gradual revelations (as plotting is wont to do), and I don't want to wreck their well-considered structure. Suffice it to say that I love The Serpent Sea (and its predecessor, The Cloud Roads) with all my persnickety heart.
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