Audie Award Nominee, Multi-voiced Performance, 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 narrators and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
The Privilege of the Sword tells the tale of a young girl who risks everything to go live with her eccentric, litigious - and extremely rich – uncle Alec in the colorful city Kushner has created, a city where elegant nobles can mingle with raffish actors one moment and deadly swordsmen the next. Fans of Kushner's first book, Swordspoint, will already be familiar with Alec as the angry young scholar with mysterious origins, living in the city’s Riverside district with a notorious killer swordsman. Now, in The Privilege of the Sword, some years later, Alec is the Mad Duke Tremontaine, living in a mansion on the Hill, still tortured by his past….
But you don’t need to have read Swordspoint to enjoy The Privilege of the Sword. This is the story of Katherine herself, a girl who starts out imagining her life will be a sort of Jane Austen-style romance, full of dances and dresses and parties - but finds that her iconoclastic uncle has other plans. When she gets to his house in the city, the Mad Duke dresses Lady Katherine in men's clothes, gets her a first-rate tutor in swordplay, and sets her loose on a traditional world that is not really ready for her…. Nor, at first, is she ready for it.
A few words from Neil on Privilege of the Sword: "Life hands us so many moments when we hover between who we were raised to be, who the people around us are trying to make us, and who we are trying to become. In Katherine's case, that means encountering a range of people and behaviors her mother never prepared her for - including some shocking acts of violence, both physical and emotional. As one of Kushner’s most charming characters, an actress known as 'The Black Rose', sighs, 'It's all so very difficult, until you get the hang of it.'"
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). As with her previous audiobooks, the award-winning Witches of Lublin and Swordspoint, Ellen teamed up with Sue Zizza of SueMedia Productions to illuminate certain key scenes with some truly stunning sound elements, including original music commissioned just for this book (!) by composer Nathaniel Tronerud. Ellen Kushner reads all of the first-person narration from Katherine’s own point of view. In scenes where an omniscient narrator takes over, we’ve called on the amazing talents of the award-winning actor Barbara Rosenblat, a woman who's been called "the Meryl Streep of audiodrama". The cast also features Joe Hurley (Alec Campion: the Mad Duke Tremontaine), Felicia Day (Katherine Talbert), Nick Sullivan (Lord Ferris; Arthur Ghent), Katherine Kellgren (Lady Artemesia Fitz-Levi; Teresa Grey; Flavia "the Ugly Girl"), and Neil Gaiman himself (Rogues' Ball Artist)! The artwork used here is an original painting and design by Thomas Canty created exclusively for the Neil Gaiman Presents audiobook edition of The Privilege of the Sword.
To hear more from Neil Gaiman on The Privilege of the Sword, click here, or listen to the introduction at the beginning of the book itself.
©2006 Ellen Kushner (P)2012 SueMedia Productions
"One of the most gorgeous books I've ever read: it's witty and wonderful, with characters that will provoke, charm, and delight." (Holly Black, coauthor of The Spiderwick Chronicles)
"Unholy fun, and wholly fun… and elegant riposte, dazzlingly executed." (Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked)
I didn't know anything about the book or the author when I selected this, just took a chance based on the reviews. What a wonderful surprise - this is one of my new favorite audiobooks! I loved Katherine, her unorthodox 'education' (courtesy of her uncle), the way she adapts to her new circumstances, in fact everything. The narration is terrific. I look forward to listening again ...
I guess I went into this expecting to be blown away (Neil Gaimon clearly adores it, after all), but it was rather underwhelming. The protagonist's utter mastery of the sword after what appears to be only a few weeks worth of lessons was odd to say the least, and some other characters seemed rather underdeveloped, particularly as relates to a love-story subplot that just seemed to be based on convenience and proximity of the lovers rather than true passion. It all felt pretty 'meh'.
This is awful. The sound effects take away from the book. I have an imagination. I don't need someone else's telling me a door closed by a slamming sound, or footsteps either.
The actors seem full of themselves. We have enough non thinkers in this world. This version just adds to that.
I've always enjoyed reading this book, and when I heard Neil Gaiman had produced an audiobook version of it, I knew I had to hear it. I'd been intrigued by an interview I'd heard where he'd spoken to how aware he was of the audible quality of his writing for children. So I picked up from the library his audiobook for Stardust, which he himself read, and greatly enjoyed it. Hearing a book read by the author is an entirely different experience from reading one.
When I first started listening to The Privilege of the Sword, I was initially thrown off by the switching actors. Yet eventually I figured out where and why they were switching the voices, so that made sense and I just enjoyed it. I wish there had been more parts with the actor who played Duke Tremontaine! Ah- what a fabulous voice that man has, and PERFECT for the part. And there was another woman who read most of the narration when it wasn't from the first perspective of the main character, and her voice was so rich, yet stern, yet purring all at the same time... like rubbing your ear on an old velvet cushion.
Come to think of it, all of the other actors brought in for the roles had voices wonderful to hear and perfect for their roles. Great casting.
Ellen Kushner reads the story very well, even though the story is from a much younger woman's point of view. The fact that she is the author adds everything I could want to the story- I love getting to hear how the story sounds in the author's own head, where they put emphasis and inflection, how they hear the voices of the characters and such.
I did wish for a bit more consistency as to when they brought in the external actors besides the two main narrators, but I suppose there were probably some budget or time constraints there, so they only did it at the really pivotal scenes. I felt like an old throwback to the days where families would gather around radios, as I sat next to my computer, my other tasks forgotten, listening it go back and forth and back and forth between actors like I had snuck into a play backstage, with only a backdrop to hide the action from me... yet it all played out in my head so there was no lack.
Excellent story, excellent production- a delight to hear.
I have listened to several of the Neil Gaiman presents audiobooks and this is my favorite so far by a vast margin. The characters are rich and delicious and it is a pleasing period piece with excellent female characters.
The story is very satisfying in a Jane Austin way without being too stereotypical.
Entertaining, with wonderful performances that matched the text.
Narrators Ellen Kusher and Barbara Rosenblatt were terrific.
I wanted listening to this book to take as long as possible, because I didn't want it to end.
Let the Wookiee win.
Swashbuckling Romantic Intrigue.
You do fall in love with Lady Katerine as she struggles (initially) with her position and them looses herself in her new found freedoms.
As others have said, do NOT buy this based on the famous people doing some voice work, good though it may be that ONLY accounts for about 5-10% of the overall production. The rest of the work is EXTREMELY well done. Just don't buy this thinking you're going to be hearing a lot of Felicia Day and you're golden.
I think Neil Gaiman is a fabulous narrator no matter which roles he takes on. Otherwise, i truly love the character of Katherine who is so naive and lovable and heroic all in one go and she was brought to life really well too.
I can't remember the last time i've read a book which doesn't fit into one of the main trends out there: dystopian, supernatural / vampires / angels etc and was really captivating. Watching the young katherine grown and take on substance in a world of men was fun. The story line is so well written it feels light and bubbly and quirky and charming whilst bringing up tough subjects such as sexual abuse, equal rights, power and responsibility. I'm impressed!
The first time this switched from a more forward audio book to a full cast audio drama, I was a bit taken aback by it. However, it became clear this was all for the benefit of this great listen. Kushner herself does a great job of narrating her text, but I have to say Felicia Day shines as Lady Katherine and Neil Gaiman's brief appearance is nothing short of brilliant.
This book isn't something I would normally go for, but I can't adequately describe how much I ended up enjoying it.
I highly recommend this audiobook for listeners with a sense of humor and a flare for the dramatic. This is a unique spin on a relatively familiar story. Those with an open mind will be richly rewarded.
I loved Marcus, the loyal partner to our strong female lead. As with most of the characters, his checkered past makes his conflicted present especially compelling.
I would recommend this audiobook to listeners who enjoy full cast productions. This presentation offers moments of good campy fun interspersed throughout the lovely story. It took me a moment to get used to the various versions of each character - as several narrators perform each role. This is explained in the introduction.
It was a book that I simultaneously didn't want to put down, but also did not want to end. Ultimately this led to some disappointment with the ending, but this was likely unavoidable - as any ending would halt this great fun.
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