It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
©1999 George R.R. Martin; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A truly epic fantasy....The novel is notable particularly for the lived-in quality of its world, created through abundant detail...for the comparatively modest role of magic...and for its magnificent action-filled climax....[Martin] provides a banquet for fantasy lovers with large appetites." (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of epic fantasy should appreciate this lavishly detailed sequel to A Game of Thrones." (Library Journal)
"Dotrice's range of vocal tones, from gravelly and commanding to silkenly dangerous, creates a mood of insistence that holds the listener captive throughout the epic story." (AudioFile)
"Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant." (Robert Jordan)
Most specifically, Roy Dotrice's narration is unbearable.
Use another narrator.
As read by Mr. Dotrice, Westeros (and environs) is peopled almost entirely by trolls, goblins, elves, crones, and a few regular guys (young and old). The characters are given such horrible voices that it's difficult to hear past them - Tyrion, for example, is read as a simple-minded cockney (i.e., low class) house elf, which is totally wrong.
I hated the way the narrator used the same voice for multiple characters, fell in and out of accents and changed the tone of his voice in weird places. It was so distracting, I only suffered through it on my commute to work because I loved the book so much. Roy Dotrice was just awful!
This was a tough one for me, in spite of the valiant efforts of Roy Dotrice. After the excitement and intensity of the first book, I figured there was enough momentum to propel the entire series - but this one took a very different direction. Game of Thrones was a very unpredictable, genre-bending fantasy/noire that threw in every curveball it could, then Martin decided it would be fun to watch everybody in Westeros slow wayyyy down and play a game of Settlers of Catan. You would think 7+ major parties vying for the throne would be exciting to watch. . . but I assure you no. Let's see - Tyrion traded 6 armor and 2 sheep for wildfire. Theon rolled the dice, then traded 3 iron for 1 rusty crown. This really is how the book plays out - except that it adds about 100 new characters, only 3 of which maybe matter. It's also hard to analyze just 1 book in the series, as I understand that we're building toward something - maybe in the bigger picture of the series it's not as big a deal... but slogging through these 1,000+ pages (37 hours) felt like pushing a safe across a sandbar, so my answer as to whether I will continue the series will have to be "Eventually."
Martin's series is grand and ambitious in its scope, and that is simultaneously its blessing and its curse. The writing is strong, but the pace of the story is at once somehow quick, drawing the ear to the next page, and painfully slow. His use of different perspectives to tell the story is refreshing, but there are certain characters that it seems should be added to that list who remain absent, while some characters can grow simply tiresome at times. Nonetheless, if you're here for more of what you got in "A Game of Thrones", you'll find plenty.
That being said, Dotrice's narration is, to say the least, a mixed bag. Some characters, mainly the older male characters, are given excellent voices. Similarly, the voice he uses to narrate the general text itself is deliberate and clear. That being said, the list of characters who are nearly destroyed by his flamboyant voicing is long and unfortunate. He miserably fails at voicing literally every female character in the book, especially Brienne of Tarth and Mellisandre, and he manages to butcher most of the younger characters, including Theon Greyjoy and Bran Stark. His most distracting and consistent failures come with two of the most important characters, Tyrion Lannister (who is given to sound like a shamefully caricatured leprechaun) and Lord Varys, whose sloppy annunciation and unmstakeable lisp are a shame to Mr. Dotrice and an absolute failure to grasp the character. Also worth mention are his terrible performances as Hodor the stableboy and Yoren the black brother. With Hodor the failure is less distracting, since he only says one word anyway, but Yoren is consistently annoying and hard on the ear in every scene.
Nonetheless, the writing is strong enough that a careful listener can work around the narration. I would recommend this recording of this book, but be aware of what you're getting yourself into beforehand.
More important, I think, are the books I would not compare it to. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Heinlein's works and essentially all other rote fantasy material is not fundamentally comparable. Often, the books read more like a novelized, fictionalized history of Scotland or England, and that's a compliment. Martin understands the kind of society he's mimicking, and as such he manages to write what is mostly a political novel with fantasy elements, rather than a fantasy novel with politics.
I will, but *only* because his is the only available narration of these books. Otherwise, I would not be caught dead listening to another of his performances.
Keep reading the series.
While I have enjoyed the series immensely, I am periodically put off by Roy Dotrice's portrayals of some of the characters. He does many things so well including consistent and distinct voices for each character and keeping Tyrion and The King slayers voices different but similar (they are brothers). But often he portrays young people and women with voices that sound so unrealistic that I find it disturbing and distracting. Teenagers are often made to sound much older and most older characters sound toothless. I am about to try the fourth book in the series and hope that the narrator, who did Pillars of the Earth, is an improvement, though I suspect from the preview that some of the subtle tones of Dotrice will be sacrificed for more of a "reading" than a portrayal. Stay tuned.
Great story but the narration is really distracting. The narrator makes everyone sound like a dim-witted toothless old man, even the women. I listened less and less and ended up just reading the book since the audio took so much away from my enjoyment of this excellent read.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I am writing this review based on the first four books of this series overall.
There is a LOT going for these books, good character development of many strong, interesting characters (every one with their own fortes and flaws), a superior writing style with interesting vocabulary and a lack of clich??s and many of the other faults found in most fantasy novels. The majority of the chapters are good, a few chapters (at least one per book, excepting book four) are among the best to be found in the genre. Yet I did not come away pleased. The story moves from one complication to another, one interesting character to another (some of the characters have a half-dozen or more names/personae), but there is little resolution. Some sub-plots come to an end, but there is not a resolving. The story seems to have become more a fantasy soap opera than a novel; a well written and compelling soap opera, but a soap opera never the less. The only technical flaws that annoyed me were a few minor anachronisms and some grating crows and half-wits. The narrator for the first three books had VERY strong character voices (which might be too much for many). The narrator of the forth book erred in the other direction (in a book with so many characters character vocal differences can be a good thing). Somewhere in between would be nicer. This was much more of a saga than an epic, more good writing than literature, more a series then a story. I will not be listening to any more unless I hear that they finally and successfully resolve. The first book was the best of the four, with the next two being nearly as good, the fourth was much weaker.
I am not as enchanted by this series (I'm about to finish book 2) as most people seem to be. It's good. The characters are interesting, bad guys are very bad and good guys VERY good with a couple of gray people to add spice to the mix. If you are looking for a long, complex series to fill the hours for quite a while, this is a fine choice. But "Lord of the Rings" it is not, nor even "The Wheel of Time." The whole thing is really about war and power and skulduggery. Which, if you like that, is fine. I am more into character development and interaction than endless power plays with the expected back-stabbing and chicanery. And eating. I am a writer too and I know filler when I read it. Every meal is described in absurd detail. Spicing, sauces, even cooking methods. Geez, enough with the food already. It goes on for literally hours in each book. I am not that interested in the quality of their cuisine and if I wanted to watch the cooking channel, I would do that!
It's readable. It has fine narration. There's a lot of action and interesting situations. I will eventually listen to the whole series I am sure, but I'm not in a big hurry to know how it turns out because I simply don't care enough, nor have I gotten sufficiently attached to any character or characters to become deeply involved. And oh yeah, Mr. Martin has a nasty habit of killing off anyone I really like. This is not a cheery tale and the good guys frequently lose. Kind of grim actually. I stick with my initial assessment. Good. Not great.
This is a gripping tale and a good continuation of the story, as others have mentioned I think Roy Dotrice is one of the most talented narrators I've ever had the pleasure of listening to - he makes each character come to life. However this book is probably 30%+ longer than it needs to be - I listened at 2x speed and still found it to be plodding at times. That said, I will continue on to book #3 to see what happens with the Starks, Lannisters and Tagaryans.
As a story, this is wonderful. I love and love to hate the characters.
The narrator cannot do voices..every man sounds like a old geezer and the women never sound like women....
If the story was not so wonderful, I would not tolerate these books. The narrator cannot remember how to pronounce a name....the same characters get a different name in (well at least in the way it is pronounced) in each book. That is really sad.
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