This book would have been improved by serious revision. As a transgender man with a graduate degree in biology, I certainly wanted to like it. The first part of the book, dedicated to dismantling sexual selection stories, suffers from telling fanciful "what if" stories without providing experimental evidence for Dr. Roughgarden's theories, or clearly outlining how the predictions of her hypotheses differ from those made by classical sexual selection theory. This gross, unscientific oversight leads her book to read like a political tract rather than a scientific critique. As the book progresses further, Roughgarden makes a number of basic biological mistakes (for example, her explanation of evolutionary developmental biology is convoluted and misrepresents the discipline), and while there are certainly some interesting tidbits hidden within the book, the overall impression is of stories cherry-picked from the literature and grossly reinterpreted without experimental evidence to back up those reinterpretations. Her description if human sex differences in the brain is both outdated and marred by cultural biases, while her anthropological work is highly superficial, and, like her scientific work, makes exaggerated claims without the benefit of good evidence; for example her description of Joan of Arc as a transgender man, which conveniently ignores Joan's own explanations of WHY she wore the clothing that she did, and imposes a twentieth century American viewpoint onto a fourteenth century French woman. Finally, her own understanding of gender theory seems markedly flawed, as her anthropological survey of human gender expression completely erases those people who do explicitly identify as nonbinary.
In addition to the book's problems, the audio is poorly narrated. Several times, phrases (especially scientific names) are repeated as the narrator tries to get the pronunciation right --- these repeats should have been edited out, and are the signs of a sloppy production.
Neville Jason does a delightful job with the narration, and is good at differentiating characters through voice and tone (which is helpful in some of the dialogue-heavy passages). He also has exactly the right sort of voice to communicate an aura of chivalry in his reading.
T.H. White wrote The Once and Future King in five distinct parts -- The Sword in The Stone, The Witch In The Wood, The Ill-Made Knight, The Candle In The Wind and The Book of Merlyn. Before compiling these into a final volume, he made significant edits to the structure and story -- especially in the first two books. This collection presents the five books as they were originally written, NOT in their final, edited form. This means, for example, that the Sword in The Stone preserves episodes such as the battle with Madam Mim and the stories of the Snake and the Trees, but omits Arthur's encounters with the Wild Geese and the Ants (which do appear in The Book of Merlyn). I honestly prefer this format, because while it is a bit structurally muddled, and forgets to present its central thesis in the first book, it preserves some very charming episodes that are cut from the final volume. (Some of the more objectionable language of the final edition is also lacking. I don't know if this is the narrator's choice, or reflects White's text ... either way, it is a welcome change.)
Definitively. Christopher Lee is a gifted dramatist, and it's fun to picture Saruman telling me a (tragic) bedtime story.
Turin's character is much better developed than in previous works, and while the complete tale certainly incorporates a lot of older material, it is also an effective, albeit heartbreaking story.
Lee's dwarf voices are, for some reason, particularly good, although the extremely soft voice he uses for female characters is, occasionally, hard to hear.
Incest, tragedy, and talking swords...
The work is fascinating, well researched, engagingly written and important.
As a trained zoologist and French speaker, the narrator's disastrous pronunciation of technical terms, scientific names and words in French was incredibly distracting. 'Phylogetics' instead of 'phylogenetics' was particularly grating, and the French phrases were so badly garbled as to be incomprehensible. Otherwise, I would strongly recommend this audiobook.
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