I purchased this book based on my love of Philip Pullman's other work. Although the genre and style are quite different from the His Dark Materials trilogy, I was mesmerized all the same. The characters and the story were engaging, and the narrator is one of the best I've heard from Audible. At first, I had a bit of difficulty understanding his heavy English accent, but it did not take long for this to fade away. He had a distinctive voice for each character, and unlike many narrators, the voices were very well done and added to the overall experience. The female characters were especially impressive, actually sounding like women. He read with enthusiasm, and did an excellent job of capturing the emotion and intensity of each scene.
Although I've been a Christian for most of my life, I'm almost always disappointed by Christian fiction due to it's lack of honesty. Rarely does a book shine the light of Jesus so clearly, while not denying the truth of what living in the world is really like. This story is full of wonderful characters dealing with the real issues of life in ancient Rome. We are shown the open debauchery, decadence, and brutal violence of the time very vividly by Francine Rivers, who gives us a "meaty" story that will satisfy both Christians and non-Christians alike.
The narration is weak, and if you're picky about that in an audio book, I suggest you listen to the sample for a long time before you decide to buy this book. The cast of characters is very large, and the narrator does not use much variety with his voices or accents, especially with the females. All his women have a weak, whiny quality to their voices. It took me a couple of chapters to stop being distracted by him, but eventually, the strength of the story itself was enough for me to really begin to enjoy the book.
Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I was not impressed with the narrator. She reads well, but her character voices are honestly terrible. Of the three lead women in their 20s, one sounds like a little girl, another like an old lady, and the third has a nasally voice that borders on whiny. The love interest of the main character has a wooden tone with no inflection in it whatsoever, and the few other men in the book all have the exact same voice. Listen to the sample for a long time before you decide to buy this one. However, the book itself is a good romantic fantasy, and after awhile, the story was strong enough to overshadow the weak narration.
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