Someone asked me if I caught the Super Bowl on television. I said no, the new multimillion dollar players don't seemed to be anything like me. When I was young, even famous athletes, like Joe Namath, seemed like people you might encounter at your neighborhood bar once in awhile, famous but one of us mugs. This is why I like the character Harry Dresden.
Jim Butcher creates a great character that you'd love to sit down with and have a beer and pizza, just to listen to what he's been up to today. You might run into Harry walking across your street and yell hello while he's out with Mouse. The humanity of the character doesn't dim his powerful, ever growing, powers as a wizard. Butcher does follow an old, 'Sam Spade,' formula, true, but the characters are so good you don't care and find yourself glad of the time it took to read it through.
I am hoping that soon all the Harry Dresden books are here at Audible. You really do need to read them from the beginning in order to not only appreciate the plot you're reading now, but to understand the subplot that flows through all the books. But you can still listen to 'Small Favors' by itself, so grab a beer (or your favorite beverage) some pizza, turn out the lights, and get on a case with Harry.
I was once asked what I thought the greatest American fairytale was and I had to say Puzo's, 'The Godfather.' The venerated Don, honor among thieves, all of it is a fiction, but great fiction. It plays to the same chord as King Arthur, nobility of spirit. Scott Lynch captures the same spirit in 'The Lies of Locke Lamora." He creates an honorable underworld, where the hero thieves steal only from the undeserving rich (though they decide who and who isn't 'undeserving', in the same means knights decide who is 'good' and who isn't) It is a great pace that never slows down. It did take me a moment to get use to listening to the flashbacks that come between chapters.
Michael Page does a great read, being able to separate each character's unique personality, and there are several. But he also keeps the narrator's voice apart from the characters which is important in this book.
One last thing is to be aware of the harsh language and brutality of the book. The characters are in no way angels and Lynch captures it through word and action. It doesn't deter from the book, actually helps make it more authentic to the 'honorable thief' genre.
If you don't know about cheap detective novels, you might want to read up on them a bit. My father loved Mickey Spillane and Boston Blackey, or more recently John D. McDonald's, Travis Magee. That is the tradition that Mike Resnick uses to write about the hidden Manhattan. "Stalking the Unicorn," really does do a great job at taking a humorous jaunt. The genre isn't about deep character development, that's not the point of this kind of literature. It is more about just enjoying the story about someone's experience. It is like buying someone a beer to hear a humorous story. You don't need details about their life, it is just a story.
Peter Ganim does a fine job at reading. Through the entire book I kept thinking his interpretation of the main character's voice sounded familiar. Then it dawned on me, Steven Wright. If you like deadpan humor, you are going to love Ganim's reading.
Literature majors have to read a huge cross section of writing. Hopefully, at one time or another, they will learn that there are books out there that have every reason to be great works, but they just don't like them.
JS&MN is like that for me. I listened to the book twice, to give it a fair listening. When I was done my conclusion was that some books were, in fact, written to be read, not read aloud. The need to fall to foot notes or appendices for some given information would often break train of thought. This wouldn't happen while you were actually reading. Don't get me wrong, it does fit the genre and time period, it was just hard for me to sometimes stay in a slower section when some note came up about someone who is, perhaps, mentioned only in passing. Also the transition between one passage and the other isn't clear cut in a reading. For me, at the beginning, two of the characters, Black and Strange, get hard to separate.
Now, my whining aside, the book is an excellent choice. Ms. Clarke does a wonderful job at keeping faithful to the English arrogance of the era. You have to understand that it was just something that they expected, everything English was superior, from education to their society. Who wouldn't want to be English? But just when it is easy to become complacent, she sneaks a twist at the end that isn't shocking but unexpected.
If you are a listener who sits down to place your entire attention on a book, I cannot suggest JS&MN more. If, like me, you find yourself doing other things while you listen, this book might be one of those you have to stop and back up, to listen to something you missed.
The reading was superior, and I've heard a few that were not so I know. His inflection and rhythm are what a listener expects in a novel about England at the time of Napoleon. The casual air of assumed superiority in every situation was fantastic. In the future I will look up books based on their being read by Mr. Prebble.
I enjoy reading a good fantasy book here at Audible. This wasn't one of them. "Wizard's First Rule," was purchased when the first in a series sale was going on and I'm glad the price was low. But this is my first experience not being sure if it was actually the book itself, or the reading of the book, that I found below par.
From the beginning chapter the book took on a tone of a book classified under young, or perhaps teenage reader. Later that would be proven very wrong in one section when the story goes into sado-masochism and another that describes a violent rape attempt. In my mind the rest of the book took on a lighter mood, and these sections simply appeared to attempt a darker edge. That is the author.
But then I began wondering if my dissatisfaction wasn't the book so much as the narrator. After finishing the book I went back and listened to several sections. One example is that of the dragon that appears to help the main character. The narrator changes his voice to that of a bad attempt at Maye West. Another is of a spoiled princess that sounds like a character from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. I'm not sure which was more out of place.
Many people love this series or it wouldn't have gone on to other books. When you consider this review just remember that. Personally though, whether it was the author or the narrator, this was a bad choice on my part and a waste of time. There are much better series out there, from Edding's trilogy, 'The Belgariad', to the seemingly never ending 'Wheel of Time,' by Robert Jordan (perhaps the best deal on Audible).
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