©2005 Conn Iggulden; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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.
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 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.
I have read the first three books now in this series and have enjoyed all three. If you like Roman history, intrigue, battles, relationships then go ahead and get into the series. If you like historical accuracy then pass on the EMPEROR novels. There is plenty of literary license on the part of Conn Iggulden but what the heck this is 'fiction' not history. I've enjoyed the development of Gaius and Marcus and the twists and turns that their lives have taken and intend of listening to the last novel before moving on. The debate on the performance of Paul Blake is tiresome. Yes he does pronounce the names of many of the characters differently from common usage and that of his predecessor and yes it is 'Gauling' but his overall narration is fine.
There is absolutely nothing more infuriating that switching narrators in the middle of a series. Especially a switch to one as bad as Paul Blake. Overact much?
I cannot recommend this series often enough!! Conn iggelston is one of my favorite authors. He makes history come alive. You are there. It is a great read!!
History comes alive.
Julius. And everyone.
If I had the time, yes. I did listen for hours at a time.
Read Iggelston's series on the Kahn's also.
Top 15 of 85
Paul Blake was weak. Not the guy I would have had do this. However, Conn's story saves the day.
PLEASE NO MORE books NARRATED by Scott Brick or Michael Prichard. Please.
Within the first 15 minutes of this audiobook I am struck with how annoying the reader is and again baffled as to why authors would allow different narrators to work on the same book series. It breaks the continuity and the effects are worse when the replacement narrator is so much worse. What seemed like an interesting and even noble story of Julius Caesar has become, with the change of narrators a tale of pompous Roman ridiculousness like reading Flashman at the Charge and taking it seriously. The story will barely survive the narrator change for books 2 & 3.
"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.
"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
"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.
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.
"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.
"What's the fuss?"
I was apprehensive about the change of narrator having read previous reviews, but the more I listened to Paul Blake, the more I enjoyed him and looked forward to his company on my daily commute. I think his characterisation is excellent and really adds to the drama of the story. It would have been nice to retain one narrator for all four books, but it's not the disaster others are suggesting. Having done Latin at school, I think Paul Blake is technically more correct with 'Serweelia' and 'Octawee-an', but I accept it comes as a shock after Robert Glenister's renditions. Having said that, I couldn't get used to 'Car-borough'!
Putting narrators aside, the story itself is gripping and Iggulden's transformation of Julius from an idealistic and impressionable young patriot to a monster who will sacrifice everything and everyone to fulfil his lust for power is so subtle and believable. I genuinely hope that we get a film trilogy out of this at some point.
If you have started with Robert Glenister, he's a great narrator, but don't write off Paul Blake. he may not be everybody's cup of tea, but the story is too darn good to be put off by the subjective opinions of others.
"A brilliant series ruined by the narrator..."
Using Robert Glennister to narrate the entire series.
His poor pronunciation, dreadful characterisation and plummy, nasal tone.
Please get Mr Glennister back to narrate the last two books! I add my voice to the clamour!
"Such a comedown from the first two novels"
I couldn't agree more with Paul's review that the pronunciation is so poor as to detract from the rest of the story. No matter how hard you try not to you keep listening for his mispronunciations to have them grate time and time again.
The narrator seems very self satisfied and pompous quite unlike Robert Glenister in the first two books.
Huge error to have changed narrator.
Number 4 will be read as a book not listened to.
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