When Niccolo's wealthy older wife dies in Bruges, he finds himself - at the age of 21 - in the dual role of prosperous merchant and sought-after military strategist. Niccolo's powerful private army is coveted by two warring rulers: steely Carlotta, Queen of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Armenia; and her lethally charming, illegitimate brother, James, who is determined to wrest the kingdom from his detested sister.
But Niccolo's suave demeanour and physical prowess and his ability to turn a profit as well as a battle, attracts dangerous lovers. The beautiful courtesan Primaflora and the vengeful Katerina, the mother of Niccolo's son, both disguise their intentions...
©1989 Dorothy Dunnett (P)2005 W F Howes Ltd
Having anxiously waited for what seems to be forever, finally more of the House of Niccolo!
Audible, please make the Spring of th Ram (Book 2) and Scales of Gold (Book 4) available as quickly as possible! These books should be savored in the order they were written and as I have read them in the "old-fashioned" way atleast once a year since they were originally released in print.
It is so wonderful to have the books currently available read by such an accomplished narrator. Beautiful inflexion; realistic and measured pace just as I would have imagined Ms. Dunnett to have meant.
So very pleased!! I will keep these books in "My Library" for always!
I have read these books in print many times, so I already know I love the story. Dunnett wrote rich, complex stories, packed with history and beautifully drawn characters.
It pains me deeply to listen to Christopher Kay, though, and I am very disappointed to see he narrates volumes 5-7 as well. If you don't mind that all but a couple characters have a phony Italian or French accent, you'll probably think it is fine.
Personally, I cringe every time a character opens its mouth. I really want all 8 of these books in audio format, but I'm not sure I can stand 3 more books worth of Kay's narration.
I may not make it through this one, although the story is great. The accents that the narrator affects are so irritating that it is almost unbearable. It's just silly for everyone but Nicolas to have an accent. Never again will I choose a book read by Christopher Kay!
No ridiculous accents!
The Niccolo Series by Dorothy Dunnett is my all time favorite and I reread all 7 books every 2 or 3 years. I longed to hear her words on tape---FINALLY it happened! The narrator of the first two books was acceptable, although I wished for a better voice for Claus as I had imagined him. Nevertheless I enjoyed the first 2 books of the series. I read the reviews of Christopher Kay before I purchased Vol. 3 and thought, this voice can't possibly be as bad as the reviewers say----Well, to my surprise and dismay the narration was even WORSE. So bad in fact that despite the fact that I had been reading the books at home and following along on the recordings in the car (Dunnett's stories are so complex) I stopped in the middle of this volume. Please, Please Please Audible-throw out all these Christopher Kay recordings and either go back to the narrator of the first two books, or find someone like George Guidall who is excellent.
I have given an overall rating of only 2 stars because the horrible accents the narrator uses makes this recording unacceptable. The story still stands as an all time favorite.
Like many others, I am captivated by the House of Niccolo books. I first discovered Niccolo Rising shortly after it was first published in 1986. I then endured the agonizing wait of a year or more between subsequent installments in the series. Since then, I've re-read through the entire series of eight books at least twice. So I was ecstatic to see the series available on Audible, shortly after I began a new job with a grueling commute. Listening to these beloved books has practically saved my life!
However, I wouldn't recommend listening to these audiobooks, because the narrator of half of the books (3 and 5-7) is horrendous (see below). I would instead recommend reading them.
So far, none. I'm on Chapter 5 and trying very hard to ignore the ridiculous narration. The only saving grace is Dunnett's writing, which is so brilliant that it actually makes it worthwhile--just barely--to endure this awful narrator.
NO! O God, please NO!
Unfortunately, in the third book, the narrator switches from Gordon Griffin, who does a lovely job, to Christopher Kay. For some reason, Kay seems to feel it necessary to give all the characters except Nicholas strange accents that are so affected that it is difficult to concentrate on the dialogue. His impersonations sound so much alike that it is sometimes difficult to tell who is speaking, even in a conversation between two persons of opposite sexes and entirely different origins.
For instance, Queen Carlotta (Cypriot), Anselm Adorne (Genoese by birth but living most of his life in Bruges), Godscalc (German), Colard Mansion (Flemish), Loppe (African), and Primaflora (presumably Italian) all sound alike. These "accents" are all delivered in a sort of whispery, raspy voice that is reminiscent of Peter Lorre in "Casablanca." (I half wonder when someone is going to pipe up, "Your weenings, Meester Reek!") Kay also lacks consistency. Sometimes the same character sounds French, at others Italian, and at others, from some unidentifiable country with a weird hybrid language.
And why does Kay insist on pronouncing "Medici" ("MEH-dee-chee") "meh-DEE-chee"? Why does he call Marian "Mary Ann"? Most puzzling of all, why does he give Nicholas no "accent" at all, even when he is speaking to someone with the same linguistic origin as his?
As if all this weren't egregious enough, there are other offenses. Kay seems to have no feel for the scenes he is narrating. In one, for example, to entertain a group of little children, Nicholas makes a toy out of a humble object that he has kept as a memento of his dead wife. Kay seems clueless as to the significance of this act. The scene should be poignant, but Kay makes it sound merry.
I couldn't. It's too hard to ignore the stupid accents.
The choice of Kay as narrator is a mystery, and one that, unfortunately, almost ruins the listening experience. I wish that Audible could re-record the books he narrated--I'd actually buy them again in order to re-listen--but I can't imagine that will happen.
I don't understand why Christopher Key is doing all these bizarre accents. Everyone in these wonderful books is from a different country and they're constantly switching between different languages. So accents in an all-English reading are superfluous.
Thomas is described as speaking Flemish with a "horrible English accent" but he makes him - and nearly everyone else - sound like a weird cross between French, Italian, and some unidentifiable place that villains come from.
Most puzzling of all, Tilda has this weird accent and Niccolo doesn't - despite the fact that they grew up in the same household.
Other than the very distracting accents I thought Christopher key did a fine job. Just - tone it down a bit perhaps.
"Irritating accents spoil a good story"
Cyprus setting very interesting especially as I am familiar with the areas in the story. Fascinating political and economic intrigues.
Sometimes the detailed descriptions of scene and costume were frustrating when I just wanted to know what happens next!
This is not a particularly useful question because all the characters contribute to the story.
The accents - very irritating and not very good, wander about a bit, so sometimes I was not sure who was speaking.
The performance of the reader of the first two books was better by far.
I read these books many years ago and have been delighted by how much more I have enjoyed them in audio for.
"3rd in The House of Niccolo series set in Cyprus"
Sir Niccolo's second wife, the courtesan, because of her diplomatic skills and ability to woo Niccolo
Exotic hareems, sugar cane fields of Cyprus, ancient ships and warfare
Find out what happened to Nicholas' bastard son, and his eloping step-daughter.
Christopher Kay's irritating accents for the different characters.
There are far too many characters to have a favourite.
Without the silly accents
I would have changed the reader.
Eg. Adorne's family have been in Bruges for 5 generations. He then portrays Adorne speaking with a HEAVY Italian accent.
"Why did they have to change narrator?"
This is the third story in the House of Niccolo series - and as an avid Dorothy Dunnet reader I have no complaint about the story, which is as convoluted, complicated, compelling and intelligent as all her writing.
BUT - and it's a big but - it's a different narrator from the first two in the series. This narrator insists on characters having heavy, non-English accents, which didn't happen in the first two - with the exception of the hero, Nicholas, who speaks without a foreign accent. Why? Should he not have a Flemish accent if everyone else has an accent?
If the narrator was good at accents it might be OK, but he isn't, and for me it really does spoil the audio.
If I didn't want to have the whole series in audio (having got them in hardback) I would return it because I find it so irritating.
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