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)
The best thing about the story was how all the characters lives were weaved together.
The least favorite things was use sparingly used guest narrators. It was billed that Felicia Day was narrating the voice of Lady Katherine -- but she wasn't the character's voice in all the chapters of the book. Same with the other guest narrators.
It broke up the continuity of the book and was distracting to the content of the book.
I hope next time when they bill someone as narrating a character, they narrate the character in every single chapter.
My only minor complaint, and I wish I could only take off a half a star for this, is the inconsistent audio volume levels. Some conversations were too low to hear, followed by a loud sound effect or a shouting person. Needs a normalize pass.
had problems distinguishing characters at times during critical scenes. Sounds, for the most part, weren't authentic. Loud clanging of swords coming out of nowhere when you're listening to book in car can make one jump thinking they've been hit.
I would if I had some guarantee that the audio levels were adjusted. I primarily listen while I'm driving and I can't hear anything that is said in this book.
The audio volume.
I have no idea. I can't hardly hear what the narrator is saying.
I CAN NOT express how exceedingly happy i was to experience it with a full cast, sound effects, and music. it was like being at a small showing of a play, performed right into my mind.
Just about one of the most interesting, unpredictable, endearing, and adventurous novels I've come across in a long time. I found it absolutely delightful, delectable, and devoid of any ill-fitting character choices or plot developments.
I pretty much squealed with joy at the effect it created and sense of immersion it gave me...multiple times.
the bit of sensible romance that did occur was so unexpected and hardly necessary to keep my attention, but was introduced and handled swimmingly and naturally....i just loved it so much.
Thank you SO MUCH Ellen Kushner.
I'm honored to have experienced this these characters and this story.
Thank you so much Neil Gaiman.
I've never been so thrilled by an audio book as to feel i was plopped into the middle of a play.
I'm currently attempting to refrain from giving Audible all my money, just to devour ALL of this series as soon as possible.
You. Must. Read.
After I exhausted Neil Gaiman's self narrated works for the second time, I was thrilled to learn that he has produced some of his favorite books. The performance is rich and textural, and even better then "Swordspoint" (I'm a huge fan of Barbara Rosenblat). I felt and still feel that Swordspoint didn't come quite together until very near the end of the novel, and was never sure of my opinion of Alec. "Privilege of the Sword" is the sequel that improves and improves upon the original novel in delightful and entirely unexpected ways. Don't miss out, everything is revealed.
The mannered and bloody world of Riverside & the City is escapism at its finest, with nice dose of human insight humming along below the surface.
Building on that foundation, what really takes these stories over the top is the production. The voice acting is stellar and perfectly cast, the characters vibrant and compelling, the background audio engrossing without being distracting. It's an all around wonderful listen, and never fails to pull me into Kushner's world. I love it.
The book was decent, and Barbara Rosenblat and the supporting cast were fantastic. But Ellen Kushner shouldn't be reading her own stuff. More on that below. Mostly, it was fine. But not all that memorable. Neil Gaiman owes me an Audible credit.
Not at all.
As I said, Ellen Kushner shouldn't be reading her own stuff. In this instance, she sounds way too old to narrate the character of a 16 year old girl. And she makes the classic amateur actor's mistake of emphasizing pronouns all over the place. Which ultimately made her sound like Amanda in a bad community theater production of "The Glass Menagerie."Honestly, though, I blame whomever directed this audiobook. That one simple correction would have vastly improved the performance.Still, she's not an actor. She would have done better letting the pros do their job. The difference is pretty striking.
No. It wraps things up in a pretty tidy way, and it's not really compelling enough to go back and revisit the characters.
It's an ok book, but it pulls its punches at the end in a pretty major way.
I doubt it for the author but I probably would for the narrator.
It was extremely slow paced in development. I might have given up for the exciting parts started. Seemed like the same old thing all the time.
About 50 percent of the first third. I didn't/couldn't finish the book so I do not know which elements were critical for the overall story. I might have shortened a few with only the critical parts left.
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