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The Privilege of the Sword Audiobook

The Privilege of the Sword

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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 (671 )
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4.3 (604 )
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3 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Aleysha 09-09-17
    Aleysha 09-09-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "great book"

    I'm glad I gave this one a chance. It was very enjoyable and I liked it very well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Tanner 06-25-17
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "meandering and dragging"
    Any additional comments?

    This story had some interesting elements but overall I feel like I just wasted 16 hours of my life. I kept thinking there would surely be a point to the story but no, apparently there wasn't. I wasn't fond of the multiple voices and the sound effects were distracting rather than enhancing. Overall a big disappointment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Hutchins 03-16-17 Member Since 2007
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    40
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    Performance
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    "Fascinating story and stellar performances."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cars1 01-24-17
    Cars1 01-24-17
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    25
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"
    Would you try another book from Ellen Kushner and/or the narrators?

    no


    What was most disappointing about Ellen Kushner’s story?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ninjamaster1027 11-29-16
    RATINGS
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    27
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Volume too soft"
    Would you try another book from Ellen Kushner and/or the narrators?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about Ellen Kushner’s story?

    The audio volume.


    Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

    Maybe.


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

    I have no idea. I can't hardly hear what the narrator is saying.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Okara 07-30-16
    Okara 07-30-16
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thank you so much Ellen Kushner"
    What made the experience of listening to The Privilege of the Sword the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I pretty much squealed with joy at the effect it created and sense of immersion it gave me...multiple times.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janine Marie Kennedy 06-17-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Immersive and Wholly Engaging"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Fitzpatrick 09-02-15 Member Since 2014
    RATINGS
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    71
    1
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    "Volume issues"

    The voice acting is great, but many moments I had to replay as it was far too quiet. Shortly following by yelling that was too loud!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Lugo 06-02-15
    Robert Lugo 06-02-15 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Great story, wonderful performance"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Vermont 05-01-15
    Kathryn Vermont 05-01-15 Member Since 2014
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not bad, but missing some pieces."
    Would you try another book from Ellen Kushner and/or the narrators?

    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.


    Would you recommend The Privilege of the Sword to your friends? Why or why not?

    Not at all.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    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.


    Do you think The Privilege of the Sword needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. It wraps things up in a pretty tidy way, and it's not really compelling enough to go back and revisit the characters.


    Any additional comments?

    It's an ok book, but it pulls its punches at the end in a pretty major way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Beccameriel
    London, United Kingdom
    10/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Teenage swordswoman loose in Riverside"

    It's just occurred to me that these books: Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings, would make a great TV series. It's such a fully realized world with lots of intrigue and fascinatingly amoral characters.

    As ever, it's crucial to read the books in the right order. However, I think this is my favourite of the three. Maybe it's that I found Catherine, blundering naively around Riverside, making unsuitable challenges as she goes, really charming.

    Ellen Kushner is a great narrator and I enjoy the dramatic scenes and music very much.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jan
    Newton Abbot, United Kingdom
    7/28/12
    Overall
    "Terrific!"

    I loved this long-awaited audio book. Katherine's voice is delightful - so innocent and excited at the beginning of the story, and developing into a much more mature viewpoint as the narrator grows up. Joe Hurley is terrific as the dissolute 'Mad Duke', and captures his lazy, drawling voice (and his abject misery) well.

    The scenes with Katherine and Marcus as intrepid investigators are great, and I love their rivalry: 'Marcus, you rat!'

    The 'enhanced' sections of the book are wonderful, and really bring the cast of characters to life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alex
    MalakoffFrance
    5/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good follow up to the first of the series"

    The quality of the reading and production, the style, and the story are all in line with what you would expect from the first book of the series. I found it entertaining, and some of the characters are very appealing. The incompatibility of the expectations of a naive country girl from a good family, and the depraved and corrupt 'realities' of political and sophisticated urban society is nicely handled. Although some of the events and plots lines do not have that feel of plausibility, the story is nevertheless good enough to keep you listening.

    I strongly suggest reading the first of the series before this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Quynh
    Tamworth, United Kingdom
    2/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Some good performances, story is mediocre"
    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Was predictable, there were many holes in the plot or leads that you wanted to chase up.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Reminds me of this romantic Bryonic era, hedonistic, the Duke Tremontaine is a delightfully intriguing character.interesting exploration of human sexuality and a girl's coming of age journey.


    Any additional comments?

    Felt it could have delved into Lady Kathryn's character developmentthe sound effects did not enhance the listening experience.
    I felt the story could have just been narrated by one person would have been easier to follow

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Johanna
    BathUnited Kingdom
    9/29/12
    Overall
    "Interesting and unexpected"

    Intriguing characters set in a complete and believable world. It was a delight to listen too - being a fan of fantasy I found it refreshing to come across a book like this as it is very different to anything I've read or listened to before. The narration is great, with occasion scenes being acted out by different people which gives a bit of variety and adds depth to the story. I would say though that even though this story stands alone, I think it would be better to read the first one before this one as it gives away some key points of the first story. Having listened to them both in the 'wrong' order I think the first one would be more enjoyable if you had no idea of where the story was going, but they are both excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cal Blagbrough
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Excellent in every way"

    I don't think I've ever read (or listened to) non-magical fantasy before, and it made a refreshing change of pace. I'm quite sure I haven't listened to a book read by the author before either, and that was an interesting experience. Nobody knows the book and its characters better than the writer, so unlike some readings I didn't question the interpretation of some phrases as I might otherwise.



    The story itself is delightful, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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