"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges
I wasn't going to review Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, simply because he is such a well known author that everyone already knows that this book, like all the Discworld books, will be funny, imaginative and have everything you want in it to keep you coming back and re-reading year after year. Most Audible listeners also know that all the main narrators that read Pratchett's books (Stephen Briggs, Nigel Planer and Tony Robinson) are all amazing, bringing the book and it's characters to life in a way that earns their five star reviews.
If you are actually a new listener on the other-hand this might really help.
Firstly despite the order they were written in my suggestion would be to start with the guards series. Pratchett has developed a complicated world with several in jokes and this is an easy way to enter it, as the books introduce the reader to the main city from which much of the action takes place. The guards series is arguably one of the most popular and after the first book has a strong cast of both male and female characters. I should warn that some of the other series' books are set before the events in the Watch novels but I still found this the most accessible way, into this vast fictional world.
The order of the guards books are Guards Guards, Men at Arms, Feet Of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night watch, Thud and Snuff (there are also spin off books that are mentioned in the series). From there you can either start reading the witches novels if you prefer female leads, Rincewind if you prefer male or stay in the city with some of what are often refer to as the `industrial' novels like The Truth, Going Postal and Making Money. Guides to reading order can easily be found on the net if you don't want to go by publication date.
I would also think twice before buying the abridged versions. Tony Robinson as a narrator is brilliant but so are the other narrators and a lot of the plot and humor is cut to fit so much into such a short time. I've listened to most of them and I'd personally go with unabridged every time.
There is nothing I didn't like about this audio book and found it hard to put the story down. I bought this after reading a review on Amazon where the writer said that three generations of her family enjoyed this novel, which for me is the test of a really good book.
Cast in Shadows mixes magic, humans and mythical creatures in a very strong plot line of changing politics and treacherous situations. Kaylin, the heroine, is young and naive despite a difficult past. One of the things I enjoyed about the story is that the listener gets to hear her slowly start to grow up, as the story unfolds around her, rather than simply have the fully fledged lead appear without context. As the story progressed and Katlin is forced to face her past, I found myself completely immersed.
Khristine Hvam, the narrator, does a great job acting out the different parts, she has a pleasing voice and acts both male and female, human and mythical creature well. I'm extremely picky about narrators so when if find one I rate this highly, I would argue that the Audio version is better than print alone.
If you are a fan of Anne Bishop's Written in Red, I would expect you to love this book. Although the settings are different the sense of a world where it is normal to walk among mythical creatures and deal with the quicksand of politics and humanoid relations this creates, is present in both.
Cast of Shadows is part of a trilogy, I have already purchased the next one and will come back to listen to this again.
Being objective this isn't great literature and you have to totally suspend your disbelief about abilities and coincidences, even allowing for this being a fantasy novel. It is however, a really enjoyable tale vastly improved by the brilliant narration of Derek Perkins. Perkins acting is brilliant, he uses a variety of accents and tones of voice to give life to the characters and also has a really pleasant narrating voice. The plot is interesting, the characters engaging, varied and likable. Ben Hale is an author whom I would happily buy again.
If you only listen to audio-books occasionally and don't use more than your one credit a month, I have to say that there are better stories out there by authors like Terry Pratchett, Patrick Rothfuss and Ben Aaronovitch. However, if like me, you use Audible a lot, have run out of stories by your favorite authors and just want to listen to something that is easy to get lost in, then this looks like a great series for you. I think this book was well worth the credit I spent on it and I have already ordered both sequels and am glad to see the same narrator is used for both.
I wouldn't usually mention price but at the current time Audible is practically giving them away, so I would order yours as soon as possible. If you are reading this after Audible will have inevitably had to put the price up, have a look at the cost of buying 24 credits which you can use anytime (go to account details then click on Change my membership - you will not be obligated to change unless you click on one of these options). Each credit works out less than the price of most kindle books and they don't have the production cost of audio-books, so at this price each book still works out a bargain.