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 really liked the first in this series, but nearly shut this one off because of the voice acting chosen for Alec. Is it just me, or did he sound constipated all the time? I would have preferred Kushner's version, especially since I'd gotten used to it in "Swordspoint."
the acting was superb, the voices were delightful, but many details left hanging, motivations etc. Overall an enjoyable experience.
I thought this was a very good story and the actors did a nice job giving the reading a play-like feel. However, the editing which joined the different actors' recordings was terrible. Some characters were very hard to hear, so I would turn up the sound, and then the next character would be practically shouting and my ears would get blown out. There needs to be a much better modulation of the sound recording. Be careful when listening. Good book, though.
Whoever called this "Jane Austen with swords" has evidently never read any Jane Austen.
I was halfway through the book before I found a storyline I cared to follow to the end. I'm giving the book as much of a chance as I can but I highly doubt it's one I'll want to re-read.
Austen is known for her wit and manners and sly social commentary.
There is nothing sly about this book; in fact, there is rather too much blatantly indecent. If your story doesn't grip the attention without sex, then it's a lousy story.
If you're going to have voice actors, use them for the whole of their parts. I can't stand them switching. The author should stick to perhaps two voices and narration.
I am distracted by the voices, but I suppose the author could pay more attention to what is actually required for sword work. Of course with bent legs the place you feel it is in your butt, most noticeable the next day on stairs.
Cut the narrator's character voices, give the voice actors the whole of their parts.
An interesting story in a weird, fictional land about a society going through rapid change at the same time as the young protagonist is exploring her sexuality. The characters are all interesting, the novel is short. But there is no real complexity or depth to what is going on.
The narrator's did a good job, but the fact that each read their own chapter was a little jarring. I think Felicia Day did well as the main character, but said very few lines of the main character. They were usually spoken by the narrator of that chapter. Though interesting to have different 3rd person and 2nd person narrators for their respective chapters, I found it out to then add other voice actors only occasionally.
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