In Magic's Pawn, an ancient age in the history of Valdemar comes to life - an age when the kingdom was ravaged by the ungoverned fury of bandit warlords, ferocious ice dragons, and the wild magic of wizards. A new addition to Lackey's Valdemar kingdom - and her most powerful series to date!
©1991 Mercedes R. Lackey (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Audio Book Fan
I must admit - I probably have worn out 2 or three paperback versions of this series, as well as the Arrows of the Queen series (of which only book one is currently available for audio.) I remember my introduction to Misty Lackey, at the last convention she attended (Dragoncon 2000 - and therein hangs SEVERAL tales, but) - this is the first series I read where there was a protagonist who makes you cry and makes you laugh, and makes you feel the plight of the outcast so comprehensively that you CAN"T read only the one book - start one and before the week is out - you will be hunting down book 2 and 3 to finish the story off.
Fair warning - Vanyel is gay. Now, having MET Misty and Mark Shepherd (who sometimes co-writes with her) - I've sometimes wondered just how much of Mark is IN Vanyel - but she doesn't make it into a big deal. (She never really does much in the way of romance in her early works, and while the series DOES skew PG - I don't think Misty's ever written an "R" rated sex scene - and if you want X - look elsewhere.)
I'm a sucker for Romantic Fantasy.
The teacher, Savil.
The main character starts out as a whiny teenager. A good narrator could take that voice and inject a little humor and irony to make him relate-able. This narrator eschews subtlety and passes up opportunities for pathos and goes right for "whiny drama queen." The whole time. This makes the main character (who's supposed to be the hero) someone you can barely stand to listen to, let alone empathize with.
Others have commented on the bad/odd pronunciations of names. What floors me is that a professional narrator can mispronounce regular old English words. Repeatedly.
This story deserves so much better. I've never been moved to write a review of a performance before, but I was today. I just can't take it any more. I don't know how much of it is bad production and how much of it is bad reading.
I like the story. And I spent the money. So I listened.
Here is my problem. I love this series. I have read and re-read these books for years and that means that I have formed an opinion of how certain names and words should sound - even if the author might pronounce them differently - so when I hear the narrator say a word that I think should be said differently, I wince. I shouldn't, but I do. So, in a sense, this might be a good version of the book, but my experience with the material has jaded my listening opinion. Sorry.
That being said, I do want to take issue with the way in which the book was read. I had a hard time distinguishing between characters. The narrator has a few different voices, but they are not distinct enough to tell which character is talking. Also, I was taken aback by not being able to tell when the narrator was moving from scene to scene. It all seemed to blend into one great big paragraph instead of sections of story. I didn't enjoy that aspect.
Like I said, it might be my experience with the material, but this reading was only an adequate version of this story. I am happy to have bought it, but it does not rank high of my favorite purchases.
This is the book that got me interested in reading novels in the first place so is holds a special place for me. I have worn out several copies of this series so I have a definite "voice" in my head for each character. I understand that no narrator could live up to that, but even so, I was very disappointed.
The first complaint I have is his ever changing pronunciation. Even if it's wrong, stick with it. Second are his accents. Only do an accent if you can do it well, and don't change that accent each time a character speaks. Most good audio books I've listened to, you can immediately tell which character is speaking by the voice change and consistency of that voice. Third and possibly the most disturbing is his cadence and how he holds the vowels out. I have never heard anything like this. I laughed several times during very dramatic scenes because of his pace and how he was saying it.
Mercedes Lackey is an amazing author and I feel that her work deserves better than this. Listen to just about anything narrated by Davina Porter or Roy Dotrice and you'll hear how a good book deserves to be narrated.
Prize-winning Poet, Composer and Lyricist.
MAGIC'S PAWN BY MERCEDES LACKEY
Vanyel Ashkevron is a 16 year old young man who's father is Lord of Forst Reach in the kingdom of Valdemar, and is expected by his father to take over his estate as Lord Holder when he comes to manhood.
However, Vanyel is far more interested in music than in being Lord Holder or in the "hack and bash" fighting his nemesis, Jervis, tries to force down his throat. He understands neither of those any more than he understands why his father never seems to think he does anything right and seems to believe he lies: though he does not. Eventually the root of his father's "problem" is told in this first book and handled well in all three of this trilogy. I found the treatment Ms. Lackey did of the issues around being gay with a parent who is homophobic (though neither word is used it becomes obvious) to be very accurate and true to life. Those who think it isn't either had awesomely progressive parents or they are not gay and therefore have no understanding of the wounds this inflicts.
Magic's Pawn, the first in three books of the trilogy known as "The Last Herald Mage" is the beginning of a tale that starts with the main character (Vanyel) very young, and ends in the third book in his mid thirties, quite a different man and very mature. It seems that things only go from bad to worse at first, but eventually the story shows what it took to make Vanyel the Legend he eventually becomes.The characters and relationships in Lackey's writing are very well drawn, and while this first book of the trilogy includes seemingly overdone emotions, for a 16 year old confused boy, it's just right. Emotions are always seem to adults to be a bit overdone at 16 years old regardless of gender or sexual preference.
About the narrator: James DeLotel did a FANTASTIC job of narrating all three books of this series for the American Printing House for the blind. However, my copy is old and missing at least 22 pages (broken tape, fixed ultimately but missing the broken part) of the first book is missing. I so badly wanted copies of all three books that were whole.
I am grateful that Audible did this, but I wish that Audible could have some way of checking the narration at the very least, even if they can't afford (or won't pay for) studio time for recording in which both editing and directing could have made a huge difference.
I think that this narrator, Gregory St. John, has at the very least a natural gift for narrating, but even gifts need direction. This narrator for this book has been reviewed MANY times as having anything from an annoying effect on listeners to an UN-listenable effect. I found it merely annoying because I know the story is worth it. No newcomer to these stories can be expected to see that though.
MERCEDES LACKEY has written quite a few fantastic series that many people follow in an age when reading has all but gone out of style. It's not fair to the author or the listeners to have such inconsistent, badly timed and badly pronounced (e.g. "Tamentable" is said in place of "Lamentable" for instance in book two) regular English/American words as well as the inconsistency of pronunciation of names as well as pacing. Speaking of which, the pacing is horrid. No pause, not even one second between obviously different scenes. The reading is so bad, my first listen included many lost sentences going by as I tried to figure out what the narrator had just said. And I had already read the entire series three times in hardback!!!
If too many of Audible's narrators are like this, I fear many people will find other places to get their audio books. I've even thought of doing that myself, which I find a bit disturbing. And all because of bad narration by one narrator. One. And I know, from experience with "The Island" and a few other books from Audible that regardless of the greatness of the writing, the horridly unprofessional narration made it so I could barely stand the too fast reading, very bad "accents" that do not remain consistent within characters, bad pacing, mispronounced words, etc. in any book from Audible. That's not good for keeping me from wandering around looking for other sources of audio books.
It is necessary, I believe, to bother with studio time, recording with editing and some direction.
I put up with it, because it's where I first found a copy of "The Last Herald Mage" trilogy not as old as my worn James DeLotel version. But....I won't be tossing that version, as it's nice to RELAX rather than be constantly irritated and finding myself correcting the narrator such as when St. John says the word "merc" (shortened form for mercenary) as "merse" rather than "merk". Actually, with that mispronounced word, St. John was absolutely consistent! Which only made me more annoyed. After about the fifth time he says "merse rations" I start correcting him ... as though that will make any difference. I'm glad I already loved these books or Audible, frankly, I WOULD NEVER HAVE BOUGHT THE SECOND ONE. In fact, I probably would have asked for money back and rescinded my rights to the first book once I got that money back. That's how annoying it would be had I not already been familiar with and loved the books themselves.
Really, these things could have easily been cleared up with a little direction. It makes your narrators look bad as well as your company. Of course, this is all assuming that Audible has any say and is something more than a place that rents audio books from other places. If Audible does rent from other places, perhaps Audible needs to first read user reviews from the companies they rent from so they can better choose which books Audible wants to present to it's clientele.
Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise and Magic's Price are awesome books in written form. And if a bad narration, bad or no editing and no direction causes people to turn away from the books themselves, I hope authors check in and insist on their books being done by professionals rather than just well, gifted folks in home studios with no direction and absolutely no editing. I will start warning authors if I see this on the increase. It's a very bad misrepresentation of an author's work when the narration alone turns readers away. How many times do your customers have to tell you this, Audible, before you find a way to seriously address the issue? And if you'd like a dialogue, Audible, contact me, I'd be happy to talk to you about it.
For those who love fantasy and love books by Mercedes Lackey, you can still hear her works here, just allow for some really challenging moments in listening for this series.
Mediocre reading with poor production. The narrator missed punctuation and read right through commas, periods, new paragraphs and scene changes. Poor reader or poor production?
Vanyel Ashkevron because we get to see him grow from an abused and difficult teen into a selfless hero.
This needed better attention to details like correct pronunciation of character names and places. I wish St. John had been mindful of scene changes by taking a breath and leaving a little empty air space as a clue. I know the book has spaces between scenes for this purpose.I would have liked it better if he hadn't given every woman and teen character a whine.
I have waited a long time for an audio production of this series and am disappointed that it wasn't given the attention it deserved. I suggest you read the book first and let the characters become real to you. Mercades Lackey's writing is better than production makes it sound.
No! The audio version is not as good as the print version, simply because of the horrendous narration. The narrator mispronounced words regularly throughout the series, and not just the unusual words of Valdemar.
This is an old favorite, one of the first in the genre that I read.
I was incredibly disappointed that the performer didn't bother to learn how to pronounce the names correctly, particularly since there is a published glossary. It all but ruined it for me.
Snoot booper 3000
This is a great book that I have come back to re-read in audio and I must say that its much better than what I remember. Perhaps that I am more mature now or that the reader did such a great job, but I find myself loving it.
BUT, audible, where is the rest of the series. You are killing me!
I love this story. It's one of my favorites in this series. Mercedes Lackey is a great author.
The reader or the producer needs help. We can see the extended break in the written word to know time change just happened. He gave no pause. Just continued. Accents are a personal expectation. Pronunciation - his or the authors? I think... Him. Didn't like it
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