©2005 Conn Iggulden; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
The frustration at such appalling narration.
Its been done.
I REALLY enjoyed the first two volumes of this series, narrated by the excellent Robert Glenister. Eagerly, I purchased volume 3, despite some minor concerns about the change of narrator. Quickly it became apparent that I should have listened more carefully to my intuition. I was prepared for the changes in character voices; how could it be otherwise? But it got worse.Blake is enragingly frustrating in his insistence to mispronounce accepted character names. Servilia becomes "Sir Whillia"; Pompey becomes "Pompeii"; Cato becomes "Carto"; Octavian, "Octarwhian" and Catiline becomes "Carterline and then, within the space of a single paragraph, "Carterleenie". Its astounding that Blake has not yet (I haven't managed to get to the end of the story) found bizarre and previously unheard pronunciations of Caesar and Brutus.Here's advice for future consumers who have the choice: listen to and love the first two volumes of this excellent series - thereafter, buy the books.
Yes, the story is good
I HATED the narrator's performance. He has an annoying habit of mispronouncing certain of the character's names; for instance, Octavian becomes Oc-tay-wee-un, Servililia becomes Ser-will-ee-ah, Cicero becomes Kickero. At first I thought he had a lisp until I noticed he could pronounce the V in victory. By his logic, Caesar sould have been pronounced Keeser but he did not pronounce it that way. What gives? It was very jarring and even in the last few minutes of the book I was still fuming at each mispronounciation, wondering why the producer did not correct this in the beginning.
I'm a big fan of Conn Iggulden, but this is the second series of his (Genghis Khan is the other) that I've abandoned after a narrator change. Paul Blake may be a great narrator, but the lack of consistency between books 1-2 and 3 (and apparently 4) is unbelievably jarring. Blake, when reading dialogue, is bearable; his overracting during text is unreal.
At this point, probably not.
The series itself is wonderful, and the first two books were performed very well. I'll just be going paperback for the last two.
I enjoyed the continuation of the story from Books 1 and 2, the characters and plot are interesting and captivating. The new Narrator failed to listed the the previous book and came across like a pompous jerk while pronouncing "v" as "w" and many s-sounding "c"s as hard "k" sounds. It was distracting from the entire plot as I had to figure out who he was actually talking about.
Listen the previous readings so names are pronounced uniformly through the series.
I am dreading the performance of Book 4 by the same narrator, but I like the story.
Why?! Why?! Why?? Why does this happen every time in Conn's books? For the first few books there is a speaker who you get used too and like, and then by the third or fourth book the narrator changes! This narrator did a fine job, but he pronounced names differently then the original narrator, and in some cases different then any pronunciation I've ever heard.
This story is excellent (if not exactly historical) and I can't wait to listen to the next one. My only complaint is the changing of narrators.
I'm not sure what all the caterwauling is about Paul Blake as narrator. He's a great actor and his pronunciation, while it may be difficult for some listeners, is technically correct since he pronounces Vs like Ws and Cs like Ks. I agree that a publisher switching from one narrator to another is a bad idea in a series like this. Nonetheless, Paul Blake is very capable and brings these fun, if not historically accurate, tales to life. A 5 star read (listen) all around.
Conn Iggulden, in all his books has a remarkable skill in bringing whatever period he is writing, to life. I love all historical fiction he has written.
He would have been rated 3, maybe 4, if he had started this series from the beginning. If he started AND ended a series i would not avoid it. Not by any means.
Paul Blake is going to be unfairly graded as all narrators that come halfway through a series are unfairly graded. I can't be the only person that this drives crazy. The accents are different, the voices of the characters are different, and in this case the pronunciations of characters names are different.
"Excellent despite poor narration"
Being the third book in the series of four, this wonderful story was spoiled somewhat by a change of narrator from the first two parts. I gave the first two books a 5 star rating, due in no small part to the efforts of the narrator Robert Glenister. This new narrator appeared hell bent on changing Glenister's pronunciation of names (erroneously in my opinion) and made little or no attempt at different voices to distinguish the characters. It says a lot for the quality of Mr Iggulden's writing that I made it through to the end.
"Disappointing after the first two Emperor books"
I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to the first two Emperor books. They were excellently narrated and enthrawling. Sadly, the third book, 'Field of Swords' is narrated by someone new. He pronounces every name and place differently and articulates even well known Roman phrases incorrectly. It's infuriating and spoils the book. Why wouldn't the narrator listen to the pre-quels to keep the language consistent?
"Good book ruined by narrator"
After listening to the first two books excellently narrated by Robert Glenister I was really looking forward to this. It always takes a while to get used to a new narrators voice but I soon got used to Paul Blake. However, I am struggling to understand why he has to change virtually all the name pronunciations. This is well documented in other reviews. Why didn't he go the whole hog and change "Caesar" to "Cesaaar".
A real shame.
"Extra word on previous review"
As the first reviewer said there is a real culture shock if you have listened to the first two in the four part series read by Robert Glenister, one of the well know acting brothers, and then move on to part 3 read by Paul Blake. The narrator has a speech impediment, nothing to be done about that, but unfortunately it makes it sound like a parody of the first two, like Michael Palin in Life Of Brian. I persevered but found my mind wandering every time the seemingly joke voice said one of the character names. It didn't get any better and it was the same in the fourth book in the series.
As well as the speech impediment, and the way he changed the pronunciations of the names from what seem the obvious way to read them, the narrator has the habit of forgetting which voice he is in. In the fourth book there is a scene of a female character looking at herself in a mirror and bemoaning the ravages of time. The way it is read is like a general making a speech to his troops on the eve of battle. Not at all suited to the material, and unfortunately this is a regular occurrence
My guess is the publisher couldn't get, or maybe afford, Robert Glenister to do 3 and 4 but I feel they could have done much better in their half time substitute. Like the previous reviewer I was very disappointed after a great first half and I would advise caution on the part of anyone considering parts three and four. The narration really does spoil good books.
"who is this narrator!?!"
I've never had this experience before, I've read nearly 200 books from audible and have heard people complain about the narrator spoiling the book but not until now. I bought all 4 of the books of this series in one go, the first two were absolutely excellent so by the time I get to the 3rd, the characters feel like my friends. Then all of a sudden this bloke turns up and starts calling Servilla; Sir Willa, Octavia; OctaWia, it takes me some time to realise Cabrera isn't a new character at all because of his pronunciation and he makes Brutus sound like a 50 year old drag queen instead of a battle hardened veteran in his late 20's. I'm already waivering and my mind wandering, there's no way I'll finish this book. You'd have thought the narrator would have listened to some of the previous books to see how the characters had been announced, shocking stuff
I didn't read the reviews beforehand but purchased this third installment simply on the strength of the first two which I thought were extremely well written and brilliantly narrated making the long commute to work so much more bearable (my thanks Mr Iggulden/Mr Glenister).
In hindsight I believe I would still have made the purchase however after eventually finishing this book I now fully understand the frustration of the previous reviewers. In fact I was so disappointed in the narration that I do not think I will be purchasing the fourth (unless I can find a version using a different narrator or find time to read the hard-copy).
In summary: Personally, the constant re-winding of the audio after realising that the names of characters and places etc are not new but simply old names etc being pronounced differently confuses and spoils an otherwise great book.
A real shame.
"How to pronounce names."
After listening to the two previous excellent books in this series, this was a stunning reversal of standards. Mr. Blake, the reader, mangled the names of the central characters into a farce. Julius was OK but Jupiter became Hupiter,Octavia is now Octawea, and it wasn't just names of characters. Ostia is Oastia, the gladius became the glardius, (but not all the time). It spoiled a good story, detracting from the build up of the plot.
Such a shame, I really enjoyed the first two books but they have changed the narrator on the third one and I'm sorry to say he's terrible. I can't even listen to the whole book.
"Do not be of faint heart!"
Having read some of the other reviews I ended up approaching this one with a little trepidation. Changing narrator mid-series is often difficult and in this case doing so and changing the way that some of the character names and Roman words are pronounced was always going to irritate some people. That said I am pretty stunned to see some of the very harsh reviews being aimed at Paul Blake. I think it was a mistake to change the pronunciation but ironically I think his are the most accurate. I had to smile as I pondered the mysterious “Sir Wheelier” in the book’s opening chapter for a while until I realized who “he” really was!
So, granted the change in pronunciation was bound to make the start of this book difficult for those of us who had enjoyed Robert Glenister’s performances in the previous two. That apart though I think that Blake’s delivery is very good and it matches that of Glenister. It’s just different and possibly more authentic.
On to the story and it’s an excellent continuation of the series. Perhaps a bit slower to really get going than the previous volume but when it does gain traction it’s excellent. Lots of the Roman intrigue we have come to expect and Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul are edge of the seat stuff. The changes in the characters are subtly revealed as the time passes. The boyhood friends are now men, they are hardened by experiences that would test the most robust of physiques and the toughest of souls. Blake delivers a much haughtier Caesar and maybe that’s why he was chosen. The main characters are now established Roman Nobilitas and boys no longer. Their friendship is tested beyond any kind of reasonable limits.
Quite simply it’s another excellent installment and I’m off immediately to book 4. The issues with the change of narrator have obviously irritated some but in my view they are minor rather than being decisive. Given the excellent “Good read” guarantee from Audible I would definitely recommend anyone who has enjoyed the first two books to give this a try and just be prepared to make an adjustment or two for the pronunciation. Rome demands it of you!
"Spoilt by narrator"
Way up in the list
The mix of fact and the private lives of the historical figures
The narration is absolutely awful and you have to wonder why Paul Blake wasn't told how to pronounce some of the names i.e. who on earth is Carto (Cato?) Clowdius (Claudius?) He also fails to distinguish between the characters with any change of voice so that you are never sure who is speaking. One of the worst faults is his lack of understanding of where the punctuation should be i.e " The ground fell away. Below the line of trees ......." which also makes the story difficult to follow. Bring back Robert Glenister please!
In spite of the narration faults yes but only because of the superb writing
Conn Iggulden is brilliant with his blend of fact and fiction. Have not yet been disppointed with anything he has written.
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