Woking, GA, United States
Yes, but only because I abandoned this version, read by the author, and sought out another version, excellently read, by, I think, Jack Fox. I am blind so I have access to visually impaired talking book libraries. My time listening to the Stephen King narrated bit that I did listen to, was not time well spent. He reads in a totally flat tone and without any thought put into the phrasing of sentances. It is strange that an author can read such textured dialogue, and yet has little skill in speaking that same dialogue.
Not wishing to give any spoilers away, I will just say that my favourite character was the young lead character in the middle story, followed by, of course, Roland!
As mentioned previously, it is nearly always a waste of a good book to allow the author to read their own work. As much as people might think they are the ultimate solution to hearing the book as it was intended, it does not go without saying, and this is largely due to a basic lack of acting skills. Being a good narrator is a very skilled job, and it would be amazing if an author just happened to have both the skill of writing and that of narrating too.
Nope...don't do movies!
Please, please, could someone who has the power to do so, please encourage Mr King to stop reading his own books. Listening or reading to a book is mostly a once only experience, so lets not allow such sentiment as ''wouldn't it be cool to get the author to read his own work'', or ''wouldn't it be best to let the author read the book in the way he intended'', because it's not true and it's wasting our, the listener, experience with that book. Some of us have no choice but to listen to a book, so let's think about us, the customer, and put us first! I will be seeking my money back on this item, as I feel it wasn't 'fit for purpose'.
True to form, Stephen Leather dishes up the old formula, and sure enough, it's still just as enjoyable. Leather is not a literary genius, but that doesn't matter here. The 'Spider' books are good fun, and an interesting reflection on some of the issues faced by the British government. This story, however, has a refreshing change of location, something I hope the author explores further in future Shepherd storoies, although the current formula of alternating between Britain and foreeign locations for the story backdrop, seems quite successful. I'd hate every story to be based abroad. These stories are great yarns, and should be treated as such, but don't be surprised if you find yourself mulling philosophically over one topic or another.
The dual plot structure that Stephen Leather has used in the past, works well to provide an unexpected climax, and you'll find your self becoming more and more tense as the book progresses. I'm particularly pleased that the author has not tried to play with the 'Spider' formula, and that you can settle down with a mug of your favourite hot or cold tipple and be thouraghly entertained!
Paul Thornly has done a good job of returning all character traits to the way they were in the first three books in the 'Spider' series. There were two previous readers for ISIS publishing, but on the whole they have all kept the characters consistantly the same from book to book, with one or two annoying differences.The first reader in the series, Martyn Read, suddenly, out of the blue, changed the voice of Major Gannon in the fourth book. He went from someone sounding like a well to do Major in the three previous books, to a more relaxed laid back sole in the fourth. Now, don't get me wrong, either way works, but only if you stick to the personality you choose, the whole way through the series. Paul Thornly has done that. Martin Read, in my opinion, apart from the dreadful voice character change, was the better reader. Having said that, I'm very happy with Paul Thornly, and certainly wouldn't want to see him changed. He has altered 'Spider' from a middle class private school educated sounding accent, to a home counties state educated voice, but I've dealt with that, and wouldn't want it changed yet again. Paul isn't my favourite reader in the world, but he's above average, and is good with accents and dialects. Cornelius Garrett was bought in to read the fifth book in the series, and although he was great at the Northern Irish accent, he gave the same voice personality to virtually all his Northern Irish characters, male of female. The lead suspect, who was a female, sounded more male than the seductive femaile she was supposed to be.
Anyway, all in all, leave Paul Thornley where he is, as he's doing a great job!
Spider Shepherd is not a tear jerker kind of character really, so as far as heart wrenching emotions go, you find find them here. Hard choices are the name of the game for this series, and that has not changed. Now if tension is what floats your boat, then there's plenty of that here.
A personal plea to Stephen Leather, please don't stop writing about Spider, even if you have to move him through some career changes in the process. There is a winning formula here, and we look forward to each episode.
Bearing in mind this is the author's first outing, there are some interesting sub plots here, and a curious link to the origins of this Fantasy universe. I won't say more, as don't want to spoil it for you. Despite a very slow start (almost the entire first half of the book) to the character and plot development, things do start to flesh out in the second half. I have to say, several times during the early stages, I nearly abandoned this book...but I'm glad I didn't. I'm not saying it's one of the best Fantasy novels I've ever read, but it certainly had enough to make me interested in the second in the series. I'm hoping the author's learning curve will continue though, as I will not be happy with more of the same. I found the first half to be rather two dimensional, and as a result, I had very little care for the well being of any of the characters, including the hero's mentor, Road Toad, whereas normally, such a role would generate humour, emotional depth, and a certain tutoring role, all of which were lacking. The battle scenes were rushed, and almost no information about the terrain or the character of creatures were given. Very simplistic battle tactics, and for great sections I was wondering why I was continuing. This definitely changed around halfway through the book. The author started to pace himself, taking time to describe more of the surroundings and character emotions. This made all the difference. If I had one more criticism, I'd say that the final half an hour, especially the final 10 minutes, were horrendously rushed, undoing some of the good work the author had done in the final half. I hope, when the second book does finally make it to audio, that the author paces himself as he did in the second half, and works on the character development, as I need to care about the characters I read about.
I would be willing to try another by this author, as, unlike a lot of Fantasy novels, his books are not quite as long. If I find myself tiring of it, I know I haven't a huge book to get through...although I have no clue how long the second book will be. Based on the first book, provided he has worked at his character development, terrain description, fighting descriptions, and general surrounding descriptions, I feel sure I'd give him another go.
With regards to the narrator's performance, he wasn't great, without being particularly bad. He was a good enough reader, but I felt he lacked natural dialogue phrasing, and read the battle scenes without any light and shade. Changing the pace of reading and adding more tonal changes would have lifted this book as I truly did have a problem working out whether it was the book or the reading that might have improved the first half. In the end I decided it was a mixture of both. I believe this may be the first read for this narrator, so I'm sure he'll improve as he goes along.
Hmm...does Flank Hawk need a follow up? I'd say it doesn't 'need' one, but if one turns up I'd give it a go...and hope that the books strongest characters are retained, but with more development all around, on plot, character, and terrain.
Keep going Terry, but please try to heed what I've said. I believe your ideas are good, but the writing style needs to find it's way. I would say that from the point when the hero starts his main mission (trying to avoid spoilers here), and about 20 mins before the end, was the strongest section of writing, and hugely improved over the first half. I would urge you not to rush the final wrap up as you did in this book! I know an author can be impatient to get the story down, but atmosphere's need to be created and worked on, and for a large portion here, atmosphere was definitely limited. I do like the ideas though.
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