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)
High adventure and derring do.
The book is narrated by the writer with embellishments including music and guest performances by Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, amongst others. The embellishments really add to the feel of the piece.
Kushner writes full on and unashamedly queer fantasy. If that's not your cup of tea, try something else.
NO. The story was not told well. To me, the story was long and boring. There were lots of pointless distractions from the simplistic plot. There were no characters with whom I could identify, or that I even wanted to know. For a coming of age book in a different time, the heroine is never quite believable as a swordswoman, much less advancing further. SPOILER ALERT Stop reading if learning anything of the plot will offend you , at least if it offends you more than the book offended me. Her "friend" is raped at a ball, pretty much establishing the villain. She seems to be surprised that she won't grow a penis if she rubs herself, and discovers masterbation; yet hours later she kisses a boy and brings him to orgasm making a mess. Some other character is hinted at being pregnant with nothing in the plot to have caused it and with no point to the story. The main characters were either homosexual, whores, or sadistic rapists, or asexual children. Who is this written for? Pre-teens? I don't think for teens or adults. Maybe for older ladies who want to imagine what they could have been like if only they had be brought up by different types of nut-cases who had just sent them to fencing lessons?
Nothing by the author or the producer.
The characters were so flawed, inconsistent, or juvenile, as to be boring caricatures. I could not feel any sympathy for what ever trials they had dealt with in their youth. They never out grew their troubles to redeem themselves. Blah.
The character reading was generally good EXCEPT: 1) the occasional sound effects and music were more distracting than helpful; 2) the volume was generally too low, and varied from speaker to speaker and scene to scene (use Auphonic on the web, please, set at -20LUFS); 3) The pacing of speakers was too slow and very uneven. After a 1/4 of the book i never set the playback less than 1.25 speed. Often setting it to 1.5 was necessary to get rid of the overly drawn out pauses and contrived drama. Even 2.0 speed was necessary to get past the boring sections and that was still quite understandable. On other books i might move from 1.0 to 1.25, nothing like the slow speech in this book. But then some new speaker would have a few lines and I had to slow the playback down closer to normal speed. If the story had some tension, or even characters i liked, it might not have mattered, but it sure didn't help the book.
Lively and unpredictable
This is my first audio with several readers, plus music and sound effects. I felt like I was watching a play and it reminded me of why I enjoyed radio dramas of the past. I am already ordering more productions by Ellen Kushner.
It was a great moment when the girl defended her friend and beat the swordsman.
This audio taught me something about sword fighting and now I feel an appreciation for the art. The characters were very real and drew me into the life of their era.
The book ended rather abruptly--like the author ran out of steam or ideas.
The performances would have been better if performed solely by the wonderful narrator, Barbara Rosenblat. I don't understand why the producer thought it necessary to add all of the sound effects, multiple performers, etc. The book can stand on its own with a single performer. The gentleman who overperformed Tremontaine was especially horrible.
I enjoyed the story, without having read the previous book. The characters were complex, and I enjoyed how my understanding of them evolved over the course of the story. The main character was relatable, and I enjoyed her passion and strength. The Duke was mysterious, and well voiced.
The audiobook did something unusual by adding some sound effects in, with very mixed results. Some of them were useful in setting the scene, like the party sounds, but I HATED the metal clashing sound that they used at the opening of the sword practice sessions. That sound is what pulled my performance rating down to three stars, since it almost made me stop listening.
However, I did keep up with it and I enjoyed it in the end.
Probably, but I'd need to have quiet weekends again
Catherine, without a doubt. Even when I wanted to laugh at her or smack her for wearing her naïveté like armor, she carried the book. And her enjoyment of everything she saw and felt wasn't just part of the description of the scenes, it was her.
The Black Rose.
I don't know, but the sets and costumes would have to be very good indeed in order to live up to their descriptions in the book.
Barbara Rosenblat deserves the introduction that Neil gives her here.
I love how Kushner never lets her readers get complacent. She writes such whole, satisfying characters in part because they never quite behave like characters in a book, more like real, and unpredictable, people. Lovely, and so finely wrought. I could be content to read nothing else.
Yes. The narrators are so wonderful to listen to, and the story is one that I could sink into again.
It's a great story with intrigue, romance, and sword fighting!
I loved the narration of the Duke by Joe Hurley, because it gave a deeper quality of likeability to the character. And this was my first time listening to Barbara Rosenblat, and she has become one of my favorite storytellers. It was like she knew the book through and through and gave seamless dynamics in telling the story.
Absolutely! So entertaining.
This is another reason to trust Neil Gaiman Presents recommendations.
Grandma bibliophile! Audible books make reading with an active life possible.
This story was an excellent follow up to Swordpoint. This isn't exactly a follow to the same story, it's a new story with some of the same characters. Equally awesome as the first book though. I can't say it's a better book because it isn't an extension of the same story really, it's about the "Mad Duke's" niece becoming a swordsman. (swordswoman?) Anyway, this story kept me completely engrossed. I look forward to more, and the narration and background sound were fabulous. Really puts you there.
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