Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ears to Hear: Blood of Ambrose, the Audiobook

I just had a new experience. For the first time, I've listened to an entire audiobook of one of the novels that I've edited. Last night, while out for a walk, I finished the 14 hours and 25 minute unabridged version of Blood of Ambrose,available from Audible.com. I've been walking about an hour and a half a night, and listening to this on my iPod each night as I do (in between listening to back episodes of the Dragon Page Cover to Cover podcast. Loved their interview with Dr Michio Kaku!)

It's a really interesting experience to encounter on of my books as a reader, since the speed at which we move and do things means that generally I'm a bazillion manuscripts past it by the time I book I've edited actually comes out. And in this case, my wife is currently reading the book as well, so I can actually talk about it with someone whose reading it at something like the same time. What a marvelous experience a book club must be! How isolated is my own reading environment! How wonderful it is to enjoy a story with someone else!

But least we delve too deeply into pity for the lonely editor, what I'm really here to do is to talk about the audio production, which was top notch. I was very impressed with narrator Jay Snyder, who does wonderful voices. He absolutely nails Morlock Ambrosius and his Dwarven apprentice Wyrtheorn, and does a wonderful job of allowing the young king Lathmar to actually age and mature across the 14 hours plus of the audiobook (that was really impressive). All the villains and supporting characters are great. He does slip up with Ambrosia. I think he keyed off the fact that Lathmar calls her "Grandmother" and so she starts out sounding a little too frail. But by the time she's wearing a full suit of armor and lopping off heads, he seems to have figured this out, and her voice has altered as much as it can without being inconsistently with where it began. (When I asked Enge who he would cast as Ambrosia, he said Yancy Butler. I was thinking someone between Cher and Rene Russo. Morlock, of course, is Hugh Laurie if he's anyone.) But overall I was more than impressed with Jay Snyder's reading, and suspect this is an audiobook I'm going to come back to every few years, and one I could easily see listening to with my children when they are older. Meanwhile, the spoken introduction by Enge is great (I wish I could play its explanation of swords & sorcery for a certain blogger who shall remain unlinked), and I would encourage audible to make it available as an independent sample if they can. If I can be forgiven my bias, five out of five stars.

10 comments:

Scott Parker said...

Since my time (as a reader, writer, father, husband, worker, etc.) is so limited, I find audiobooks (and my 40-minute, one-way commute) to be something akin to salvation. As far as I'm concerned, every Pyr book should have an audio adaptation. I'm about to participate in an SF book club and I've been picked to select a book first. Wouldn't you know it, the book I'm likely to pick (Crystal Rain) doesn't have an audio version. Blood of Ambrose is on my Audible wish list.

Lou Anders said...

There are actually audio versions of quite a few Pyr books now - Resnick's Starship and Stalking series, Justina Robson's Quantum Gravity series, Kay Kenyon's Entire and the Rose series, Sturges' Midwinter... Plenty of things for your book club!

ces said...

I've never been able to get hooked on audiobooks. The experience just isn't the same as reading the book. The only audio things I listen to are BBC radio adaptations of Hercules Pierot, Miss Marples, & Rumpole. Sherlock Holmes (I have the 40-dvd version). The Shadow. Poe by Basil Rathbone & Vince Price. Garrison Keillor Lake Wobegon & Prairie Home Companion.

On a side note, Lou, I am about 100 pages into Fitzpatrick's War and love it!

Joel Shepherd said...

I dare you do try and do one for Cassandra Kresnov! It's not exactly 'read out loud' material...

Lou Anders said...

Christine - Only three full audios I've done are Ender's Game, Sailing to Byzantium, and Blood of Ambrose. I love short stories on audio though. Harlan Ellison's short stories particularly good. Oh, and I listened to tons of Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas, which are wildly uneven, but did give a sense of what Paul McGann would have done with a longer time in the role.

Joel - I'm game if Audible is.

ces said...

Cassandra Kresnov would be interesting if done with a cast, and just not one person reading the book.

However ... if done unabridged, it might have a rating of non-PG. Or do audiobooks have ratings?

Speaking of short stories - I also have a few audios of NPR's RabbitEars Radio, a series of classical short stories for kids (e.g., Kipling's story of how the elephant got his trunk read by Jack Nicolson).

Lou Anders said...

Audible make Riki Tiki Tavi available for free a little while ago. Saving that for my kid.

I don't know if they have ratings or not!

ces said...

Finished Fitzpatrick's War!

An amazing book.

Mieville's new book is next.

ces said...

Mieville - done.

He can write!

Lou Anders said...

I so want to read it.