Here’s my regular round of reviews from my recent Audible purchases. A couple of fantasy books and a couple of true classics, with a kids book at the end! But are any of them worth your time and money? Read on and find out…
First up is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind which I raved about not long ago as it was the best fantasy novel I’d read/ listened to in years. And, for the most part, this second book continues the series in similar, great fashion. It is insanely long (42 hours!) so you are getting quite incredible value for money if you use a monthly credit for this thing and, like the previous story, the narration is perfect. Rupert Degas has a huge repertoire of voices and accents and he’s just a pleasure to listen to. The best narrator I’ve ever heard? Yes, I think so!
The story is a good one, with our hero Kvoth now a bit older, a bit more settled in himself and he has some great adventures in this tale. However, I found myself becoming a little bit irritated this time around as our hero is a master at EVERYTHING. From playing his lute to bedding women to fighting like a samurai to throwing magic around like a young Gandalf (yes, he’s still a teenager)…it becomes ever harder to suspend disbelief. By the time he’s seduced a Goddess and she’s found him the best lover ever you start to remember this is just a book, Kvoth isn’t a real man, and it’s hard to remain lost in the world Rothfuss has so diligently crafted.
But overall this is still a five star listen and highly recommended.
Rating – 5/5
Another fantasy book, this time from the Dragonlance mythos. I always thought the mage Raistlin, and his big, dull-witted twin Caramon were the best characters in the whole series and this particular trilogy is ideal as it follows them on an adventure through time. My biggest issue with 80’s fantasy is how twee it often is – when people are dying there’s always some element of slapstick or silly one-liners that destroy any suggestion of realism and make them seem like more of a children’s story. Time of the Twins isn’t as bad as some of the Forgotten Realms books in that regard, and Raistlin is a nice, dark character, utterly selfish and nasty but, irritatingly the kender, Tasslehoff Burfoot (even his name is twee!) tags along and brings that annoying element of misplaced humour to proceedings. Occasionally the authors use the kender in a more interesting way – when bad things happen and the childlike character is upset it really does add an extra edge of horror. In general though, I wish fantasy authors would forget the comedy characters.
I loved this book when I first read it as a teenager and to be fair it’s still a good story. Certainly worth a listen even if the narrator misprounces words and names which is not his fault as someone should have been proof-listening and pointing out the many errors.
Rating – 4/5
Now to the first of the stonewall classics – Sherlock Holmes! This is another long one representing enormous bang for your buck at FIFTY EIGHT HOURS!
I’m a huge fan of the Jeremy Brett TV series from the 80’s and 90’s and, for me, Brett is and always will be the real Holmes so I wasn’t sure how I’d like someone else’s voice reading the dialogue but I needn’t have worried. Simon Vance is perfect and runs Rupert Degas close as one of the best narrators I’ve heard yet. He has that refined, upper class accent that works so well with the setting and he has just enough voices to make it all hugely entertaining. I actually stopped listening to this at one point because I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to ever end! Although in saying that, I have found myself not enjoying the later stories to the same extent but I’m not sure if that’s fatigue or because Doyle’s latter-day Holmes stories simply weren’t as good as the earlier classics.
Still, for such a long book, read so well and featuring two of the best characters ever created, this is one of the best Audible buys around.Do yourself a favour and use one of your credits for this!
Rating – 5/5
The next of the true genre-defining classics is set in a far different time and place to Holmes’s London but I was really pleased to realise it’s also read by Simon Vance! There’s some other voices who chime in here and there making this something of a more lavish production, but overall it’s just Vance and he does a fine job again.
Dune is a strange book – I first read it when I was about 15 and thought it was a boring pile of crap. Then I tried again a couple of years later and it blew me away. I returned to it once more in my thirties and again loved it. The rest of the series isn’t so great, especially the later books, but this first novel is so good if you’ve never read it before please give it a try.
I suppose the hero, Paul Atreides, is similar to Kvoth in the way he’s so good at just about everything but here it seems natural. I have already used my latest credit to buy the sequel, Dune Messiah, so look out for my review of that in due course although at only 9 hours it’s much shorter than Dune which clocks in at around 21 hours.
The book inspired an excellent Iron Maiden song – “To Tame A Land”, check it out HERE where it’s backed by parts of the not-so great movie…Frank Herbert HATED heavy metal so wouldn’t let them call the song “Dune”, unlike Patrick McGoohan who was happy to allow them to call another song “The Prisoner”.
Rating – 5/5 again!
I’ve listened to some excellent audiobooks in recent weeks although I also bought the Forgotten Realms “classic” Pools of Radiance which I always fancied as a kid but never got around to reading.
I’m not even going to bother with a review for it but I won’t be trying any more from the series. It was like watching someone else play a bad computer game. Anyone a fan of this series?
Finally, something a little bit different! My 9-year-old daughter loves books too and has started listening to Audible which I buy extra credits for. I must admit, being a thrifty Scot I rather grudge using a credit for a kids book as they generally last for about 1-2 hours! But my daughter has really enjoyed some so I asked her to write a little review for her favourite so far.
The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams
Reviewed by Freya McKay
The narrator (David Walliams) spoke very clearly and had good expressions in his voice. It was disgusting when the boy picked his nose and made it into something even more disgusting! My favourite character was one of the girls who always did naughty things and blamed it on her wee brother. They are all very naughty! This book is very interesting and I sometimes wonder how the writers comes up with such good stories.
So there you go, I hope you’ll check out some of these and enjoy them as much as Freya and me. If you are waiting to use a credit on the fourth and final book in my own Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf is in production right now. Nick Ellsworth returns to voice Robin and John and the rest of the crew and I cannot wait to hear it!
A couple of good choices above. ‘Wise mans Fear’ and ‘Dune’ are both fantastic. Wilber Smith’s ‘River God’ at 24 hours is definitely worth a listen being one of the best historical fiction book a relsting to ancient Egypt. And lets not forget Nick Ellsworth, he has done a great job with the wolf series. Am looking forward to the concluding as udiobook in the series.
Thanks Chris! I think my mum owns a signed copy of “River God”, I’ll need to ask her.