Audie Award, Audio Drama, 2013
Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrator and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
A few words from Neil on Swordspoint: "It's as if Jane Austen wrote fantasy... an imaginary world where the characters are real people: a Vanity Fair of aristocrats, rogues, orphans, and heroes; a book where the best swordsman in the land can make far more money dueling at private parties than he can as a knight-errant. Ellen Kushner casts her sharp eye over them all, but with great affection and lavish detaiI.... couldn't think of a better performer for Swordspoint than Ellen, and her reading is polished, intimate, and – since Riverside is of her creation – wholly authentic.
"What really makes this production of Swordspoint unique, though, is the supporting cast in this special "illuminated production". Several key scenes are fully dramatized, and throughout the entire book's soundscapes you will hear the cadences of the marketplace, the music of the drawing rooms, and of course the ring of steel drawn from the scabbard. Ellen actually wrote new dialogue for the crowd scenes, so the actors aren't just mumbling "rhubarb rhubarb" to simulate speech.... You'll be able to hear performances from acclaimed and award-winning actors, including Dion Graham, Katherine Kellgren, Robert Fass, Nick Sullivan, and the remarkable Simon Jones."
In this exciting new "illuminated production", the author herself reads her own work, supported by a full cast. Author Ellen Kushner is also a popular performer and National Public Radio host (Sound & Spirit). For years, fans have been asking her to record her own audiobook of Swordspoint. To mark the 25th anniversary of the book's publication, Ellen teamed up with Sue Zizza of SueMedia Productions, known for her signature touches of soundscapes and sound effects, multi-voiced dramatizations, and all the techniques of "illuminated production". Together they have made Swordspoint a brand-new audio experience, in which the full supporting cast dramatizes and illuminates key scenes from Ellen's compelling narration.
On the streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. And in this city, the swordsman Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless – until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye. Because every man lives at sword's point, if you can only find his weakness. And even the greatest swordsman in Riverside has one thing he cares for deeply.
Hailed by critics as "a bravura performance, a delight from start to finish" (Locus), "intelligent, humorous and dramatic" (Publishers Weekly) and "witty, beguiling and ingenious" (Interzone) , Kushner's "Melodrama of Manners" has become a classic, a favorite not only of Neil Gaiman but a host of distinguished colleagues, including George R. R. Martin ("unforgettable!"), Orson Scott Card ("powerful") and Gene Wolfe ("as if Noel Coward had written a vehicle for Errol Flynn!").
The artwork used for the audiobook edition of Swordspoint is based on the artwork and design by Thomas Canty for the original first US edition of the book.
To hear more from Neil Gaiman on Swordspoint, click here, or listen to the introduction at the beginning of the book itself.
©1987 Ellen Kushner (P)2011 SueMedia Productions
"A glorious thing, the book we might have had if Noel Coward had written a vehicle for Errol Flynn. It’s wicked and visual and witty, and it pulls you in like the doorman of a Bourbon Street bar." (Gene Wolfe)
"Swordspoint begins with a single drop of blood on a field of new-fallen snow, an image that burned itself forever into my mind the first time I encountered it. I can close my eyes and see it still. It’s a terrific opening, an unforgettable opening... and the book just gets better from there." (George R. R. Martin)
“Ellen Kushner delivers her utterly unique blend of modern fantasy and nineteenth-century novel of manners with absolute conviction, affectionate humor, and perfect phrasing. “Neil Gaiman Presents” has provided original music, lively soundscapes, and the voices of some of the audio world’s most distinguished performers. Hearing Katherine Kellgren, Dion Graham, and others sharpen the cutting, insightful dialogue is pure pleasure.” (Audiofile)
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
Ellen Kushner's ability to weave a net of intrigue is to be admired. In 'Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners' the listener is introduced to a mysterious university student that hits it off with a swordsman in the city slums called Riverside. You are quickly reminded in the story that it is not the Middle Ages, but a place where the chivalry of the Middle Ages are blended with modern issues and snobbish aristocracy creating an eerie world within which it plays off.
Kushner is a master of misdirection, suspense and surprise. What I found difficult however was to identify with one of the characters, they felt so otherworldly that I completely felt left out. Maybe I am too conservative in my views, but I found that there was a huge gap between my values and those portrayed by the prominent figures in the book.
The book seems to be a mix between an audio drama and a book. The scenes where voice artists played out the little intrigues were exquisite. It is candy for the ear. Yet I had to tune my ear in to Kushner's reading and identifying of a character that suddenly had her voice and not the male voice of once of the scenes. It made it difficult for me to follow - especially at the beginning - but I while I got more used to it towards the end, I cannot say that it didn't hinder. That said Kushner's own reading was superb.
If you like intrigue, civil nastiness where tea parties are more important than city council meetings and the flare of sword fighting this book might be for you. It is woven together very intricately like a tapestry, so be careful not to get lost by missing a thread. (Listen to it... with manners.)
Swordspoint is was an amazing story with an amazing cast of characters. The author's reading was absolutely perfect and the rest of the cast did a great job as well. The music and staging of key scenes was done really nicely and didn't feel tacky. If you're debating whether or not to pick up this title, take this as a sign and get it now! You won't regret it!
Yes, the cast is great and it adds another dimension to the story
Richard's voice, the relationships of the characters
the sense of the scenes and time period
If you enjoy this genre, this is a must listen. I even bought the paperback to keep in my physical library
The well-described locations and complex relationships among the many characters gave this story a solidity that I appreciated.
Murder, swordsmen, intrigue and a complex maelstrom of human emotions move through this novel like a river. Masterfully executed and riveting from beginning to end.
Sexy swashbuckling politicoes
Richard and Alec are kind of terrible but I love them in spite of themselves. Although hmm, the Duchess might beat them.
Well, I've heard Ellen read in person before, so sort of? She's a fantastic reader, and loves her characters and her settings so much. This was a great performance, and the sound effects and other actors for the dramatized scenes really added such richness to the recording.
Oh, those mad, bad boys.
I read this book a few years ago, and just loved it then. Having such a fantastic audio version made me wriggly with joy. The last line of dialog is so simple and, out of context, utterly mundane, and the fact that it made me weep into my steering wheel is a testament to Kushner's ability to make a reader care so much about the characters that all of the context can fit into such a short line.
Swordspoint is one of my all-time favorite books--one I re-read every few years. I find it exceptionally compelling as a story, and I love the complexity of the plot and the intricate maneuvering of the characters. Ellen Kushner is a superb writer, and I have read all her work, including the other tales of Riverside. Swordsman Richard St. Vier and his lover Alec are two amazing fictional characters and I love being a part of their world. The audio version of the book is terrific: Kushner and her supporting cast make the ten plus hours fly by. Congratulations to everyone involved in the production, and thanks to Neil Gaiman for selecting it.
Love Star Trek
I have read this book in Japanese more than 20years ago and this was the first time "reading" it in English and let me tell you...Wow
The audiobook version of this book was given as a gift to me and it was such a jewel. It is actually read by the author with the casts including music and sound effects. I was not only able to experience the original English version, but also could enjoy the nuances and the richness of the dialogues as well, through the wonderful narration by the author.
The experience of listening to this production was like watching (listening) to a classical Shakespeare-like periodic play. If you are a fan of this book, don't miss the experience!
Society requires sublimation
Alec and St. Vere - on their own they might be flat character types but together they are magic.
Narrator/Author does a wonderful job of conveying the different voices of her characters and their shifting emotions and vulnerabilities. The audio cast is excellent but you hardly even miss the actors when the narrator is speaking their lines.
A fantasy with its feet firmly planted on the ground. And it is good, rich, ground. If you love the English Renaissance, and English renaissance drama in particular, this is the book for you.
I remember loving this book when I first read it and it was just as good the second time around. Brilliantly complex take on the swashbuckling story. The only negative is probably personal, I didn't care for the sound effects, some were just off, and others pulled me out of the story.
Overall it was an excellent listen and if you like sound effects it will be splendid.
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