Why they changed the reader of this from the first book is a mystery far beyond the mysteries in the series. The reader has an weak, whiney, cracking, almost effeminate voice that lacks the strength and resolve necessary to carry the strong characters established in the first book. And there's no creative variation in the voices given to the characters, creating confusion many times regarding who's talking. I'm halfway through this book but I may not finish, the narration is really that bad.
I was looking for an abridged version that I could offer to my friends/family that didn't require a 60 hour commitment as in the unabridged version. I read good reviews on this version but I have no confidence I would know what was going on had I not recently finished the unabridged version. Thankfully they preserved the Francisco Money Speech, which I felt for sure would be shredded, but for every 5 hours of unabridged content they cut 4. It almost feels as if they had a goal to keep the book under 12 hours. Unfortunately, the listener doesn't get a good sense of the public's morose in this edition, and things just seem to happen out of nowhere. The characters are so under developed that it's hard to attach any emotion to any of them.
Regarding narration, I rather prefer the Scott Brick depiction of characters in the unabridged version - the inflection, tonality, and emotion helps to fully develop an image of each character as unique individual. You really need to do the work yourself with this version, as Herrmann does little of it for the reader. For instance, in the unabridged version I always knew which character had the focus, but in this version I need to look for the explicit cues. The only exception is Francisco, on whom there's a poor attempt to attach a Latin-American accent to his character.
Overall, I think this is a good recap of the greater work and the lessons therein. However I cannot recommend this version to the first time reader hoping for a quick dash through 60 hours as a means of appreciating the full work. Too much is lost.
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