The author (Bassingthwaite) actually pleasantly surprised me. I did not expect much from this book because, let's face it, the Dungeons & Dragons franchise isn't exactly known for cranking out fine literature. Occasionally I find myself compelled (in vain) to attempt to recapture my youth by buying a book like this, but am always prepared for it to be awful and for me to feel a bit ridiculous for hoping otherwise.
Although no masterpiece, this book is competently written with at least a nod or two toward character development. There are no real surprises plot-wise and the characters are closer to two-dimensional than to three, but the story is engaging and entertaining enough that I would probably read (guiltily) another book by this author.The narrator, however, is a different story. I found the narrator annoying to the point of distraction. Fortunately, I purchased the audio book to supplement the Kindle version I already owned. At a point less than halfway through, I decided to stop listening and just read the rest.
I don't want to be overly harsh because I respect that different readers might have a different reaction, but I felt this narrator made the book un-listenable (if that's a word). For one, his timing and cadence were awkward. He would, at times, pause inexplicably in the middle of a sentence. At other times he would pause for 3 to 5 seconds between ending a line of dialogue in beginning in the next sentence. He didn't seem to be familiar at all with the words he was reading. I am sure that he was reading each sentence for the first time as he read it aloud. And it showed.
His voices for the different characters were cartoonish. And when I say that, I mean I actually thought, "This guy thinks he is doing voiceover work for the Thunder Cats or something." The voices were so bad that I actively hoped that certain characters would die just so I wouldn't have to hear the voices anymore.
And although this is petty, how do you think you would pronounce the name of a mage who specialized in fire if that mage's name was spelled Singe? Would you pronounce it like it looks or would you pronounce it Singh?
It's an okay book that I feel compelled to review because of how much I disliked the narrator. I will still give the narrator two stars even though I disliked him intensely because he did try to breathe a little life into his narration. He wasn't a flat, monotone reader (although I might of liked him better if he were).
You know what you are getting if you buy a Dungeons & Dragons mass paperback, and I think this is probably on the better end of the scale in terms of the writer's talent. I can recommend the print version in the sense that you are getting a pretty good version of what you are probably expecting. I cannot, however, recommend the audio version. I have experienced books that I thought the audio made better (the Harry Dresden series, for example), but this is the first time I've experienced a book that the audio version made significantly worse.
Most of what needs to be said about this book has already been said by other reviewers. It's entertaining and engaging, has a relatively unique plot-line, and is well paced. It's not a book that demands a great deal from the reader. It's not going to make you stay up nights thinking about your place in the universe. And that's okay. What it sets out to do, it does well.
Although I rated this story a full four stars, it probably should be closer to 3.5. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I probably wouldn't mention it specifically to any of my friends as something they had to read. If they asked me if I had read any good books, I might tell them about 14, but I wouldn't rush to press it into their hands.
However, as an audio book I definitely would recommend this to friends and have done so. Combine a pretty good story with an excellent narrator and you have an audio book that is definitely worth a listen. Especially if your friend enjoys science fiction and Lovecraft-ian horror.
The performance by the narrator was one of the best I have heard (although admittedly I haven't heard that many). The more I think about the book, the more convinced I am that I would have enjoyed it a lot less had it not been for Mr. Porter's narration.
His character voices were excellent; he gave each individual a sense of depth that I'm not sure they actually possessed on the page. I don't mean to disparage the writing, which I also enjoyed, but looking back the characters all seem fairly two-dimensional in terms of their motivations and development. Through the voice of Mr. Porter, however, that did not seem to be the case.
Highly recommended for the narration alone.
Not especially. If you're looking for deep, emotional interchanges, this book probably isn't for you.
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