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The Privilege of the Sword | [Ellen Kushner]

The Privilege of the Sword

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. In this exciting new "illuminated production", the author herself reads her own work, supported by a full cast.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Learn more about Neil Gaiman Presents and Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).

©2006 Ellen Kushner (P)2012 SueMedia Productions

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (454 )
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4.2 (417 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    elizabeth San Francisco, CA, United States 08-06-12
    elizabeth San Francisco, CA, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "disappointed in the narration"
    What did you like best about The Privilege of the Sword? What did you like least?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Highway0311 Florida 08-19-14
    Highway0311 Florida 08-19-14
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    13
    4
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    "Sword play, coming of age, gender roles"
    What made the experience of listening to The Privilege of the Sword the most enjoyable?

    Great characters, and interestingly written. I liked the use of multiple narrators and voices. The only time it became weird for me was when the main character suddenly had a different voice.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Katherine and St. Vier. Katherine, grew to realize the independence and freedom of having the ability to defend herself and fight her own battles. But was still free to be the Lady she wanted to be. It was interesting watching how she came to see how helpless her friend was, and how she could right those wrongs.St. Vier, was still the unbending single minded master of the sword. No matter what, if he has the ability, he will practice with the sword. He was one of those types with a single focus in life. To be the best with the sword he could be.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Katherine's Duels. Ellen shows a better understanding of the Fencing type swordplay she talks about in this novel. Made me want to start fencing again.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Sure, but I don't have that much time. Though, it was nice to savor it. Sometimes when I get towards the end of a good book I almost want to stop.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jasmeen Malhotra Ajmer, RAJ, India 07-20-14
    Jasmeen Malhotra Ajmer, RAJ, India 07-20-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A charming and insightful tale"

    This is so much more than a coming-of-age story. It is that, definitely, but interwoven alongside the tale of a young girl's discovery of her identity are beautiful and profound explorations of the nature of love, honour, beauty, friendship, happiness and gender. Ellen Kushner plays a delightful game with all of these concepts, and the listener can't help but wonder what they all really mean.

    The narration is just spectacular. Barbara Rosenblat's deep, purring murmur seductively draws you into the Riverside world, and Ellen Kushner's own mocking drawl is the perfect counterpoint. At times I wished there was a little more Rosenblat and a little less Kushner, but it's kind of a privilege to know that one is hearing the characters speaking EXACTLY as the author intended them to.

    I never thought listening to a young girl's first person narrative would be so enthralling. And don't let that factual description fool you - this book DEFINITELY doesn't belong in the young adult category.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Ford 06-29-14
    D. Ford 06-29-14 Member Since 2013

    Jazz

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    "Disappointing and not what I expected"
    What disappointed you about The Privilege of the Sword?

    The reviews said this would be like Jane Austen from the perspective of varied gender roles. Instead I got to hear a prepubescent girl learn about sex.


    Has The Privilege of the Sword turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes; I'm not sure if I can trust reviews by Neil Gaiman any more.


    What character would you cut from The Privilege of the Sword?

    I would cut out some of the side characters, like the actress the Black Rose. I found her unbelievable and unnecessary.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Bauch 05-23-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Narrated by Betty White and Peter O'Toole"
    Would you listen to The Privilege of the Sword again? Why?

    Enjoyed listening to this nicely character driven story; however, the ensemble performance left something to be desired. I felt that the changing voices (based on perspective) distracted from the story. The voice of Katherine by Ellen Kushner sounds exactly like Betty White, who I then visualized as Katherine every time! And then there was the over the top Mad Duke/Peter O'Toole voice that I just wanted to strangle the narrator (no offense). Overall, though, a good story despite the narration at points.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    patmos58 Upstate New York 05-01-14
    patmos58 Upstate New York 05-01-14
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    "Just not for me"

    I bought this because I like Neil Geiman. And I could see this being a great Sandman-style graphic novel. However, just listening to it was a little confusing with the many characters. Sorry, it's not you. It's me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hx uppsala, Sweden 04-28-14
    hx uppsala, Sweden 04-28-14 Member Since 2010

    I'm an astronomer. Scifi is all I ever read/watch/listen to. (with the occasional epic fantasy here and there, for diversity :)

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    "I don't get it"
    Any additional comments?

    I don't get this book. Nothing of interest is happening. People are walking in and out of rooms, opening and closing doors, having endless conversations which lead to nothing interesting. At some point somebody got hurt and a challenge was issued, and I was overjoyed cause *finally* something was happening, something that presented tension and left you wanting to see its resolution. Still, the resolution was very quick, anti-climactic, and uninteresting. The book continued for 4-5 hours after that, with people continuing to walk into rooms, going out, coming back home, waking up with a hangover, and other such mundane crap that doesn't consitute a story.

    I suppose the book is also about the sexual awakening of a teenage girl, but that doesn't exactly top the list of things I find fascinating because teenagers are boring and have trivial thoughts which can teach you nothing if you're not a teenager yourself. This book is full of "ideas" which, if you're over 25, should be familiar to the point of being tedious. Nothing challenges your intellect here, nothing shocks you, nothing surprises you, nothing delights you, nothing takes you out of your comfort zone, nothing leaves a vivid lasting impression in your mind's eye. It's just a collection of sentences, which you've heard a million times before, all stringed together in a way which you've experienced a million times before.

    I'm getting desperate here, I feel like I've read every good scifi or fantasy book in existence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joan YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 03-21-14
    joan YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 03-21-14 Member Since 2006

    71 year old avid reader using either my eyes or ears. I make earrings that I donate to shelters and while I work, I listen to wonderful books. I also keep in mind that you have to kiss frogs to find princes - time's too short to bother with losers.

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    "It just didn't get to me"

    This might be a great book, but I wasn't in the mood for it. Ever been that way?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. United States 03-11-14
    A. United States 03-11-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What was the point?"
    What disappointed you about The Privilege of the Sword?

    I kept listening to this book hoping that it would, in the end, come together and be a satisfying story....it never did. I felt it left me hanging.....wondering just what it was I suppose 'learn' from the story.


    What was most disappointing about Ellen Kushner’s story?

    The book review spoke of a eccentric uncle turning his niece into a swords women. It didn't tell me that I would be subjected to descriptive scenes of male on male intercourse which I didn't care for but may be exciting for others. The niece never showed a personal maturity or self discipline in actions other than in practicing the sword. I felt the book was more concerned about the sexual activity between the uncle and his lover instead of developing the character of the niece - which is what the privilege of the sword was supposed to be.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I would have returned it but I waited too long - and i only keep it in my library so i don't get another book like this.


    Any additional comments?

    The cast doing the readings were good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Willie-B Mesa, AZ, United States 03-09-14
    Willie-B Mesa, AZ, United States 03-09-14 Member Since 2012

    hydrophoid

    ratings
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    1
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    "Horrible Performance, Ruins Story"
    What disappointed you about The Privilege of the Sword?

    I picked this book up in the 2 for 1 sale based on Neil Gaiman's good name being on it. The ratings listed this as a good book, so I figured it would be good. I can't really say if the story is good, I can say I will not read the book as I have been so turned off by the story as performed by the cast.


    What could Ellen Kushner have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    This book may be an exciting read, with many interesting characters. It sounded good, the author should not have read this to us if she was not able to provide a reliable performance.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance sounds like a librarian is reading to you. Do not listen to this book in your car, it will put you to sleep (ask my wife if you need proof). The voice acting should be handled by professionals not the author of the book, unless they are actors as well. Often, I found myself repeating the phrases that were uttered in a more natural way. Even with my imagination, it was not a good listen, in fact I only got about 4 hours into this book before I had to give up.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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