"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.
I can't think of another author quite like Anne Bishop her worlds are so different to anything else out there. Her characterisation is so good that you're often seeing the world from several conflicting points of view and often sympathizing with all the main characters. Her description and sense of her world is so real that many other writers feel bland in comparison.
She contrasts the engaging almost childlike hope and innocence of her heroine with a complex world where fairy tale creatures fluctuate between benevolence and horrific actions, many humans are worse still and the socio-economic climate is ruled by a powder keg of racial and political tensions.
I'd put this series in my audiobook top ten. I've already re-listened to the previous novel before this came out and found it to be one of the few that I enjoyed just as much the second time and it will be the same with this book. You do need to read this series in order.
Alexandra Harris is a brilliant narrator not only does she draw you into the story like any good narrator but she is so good at voicing the male as well as the female characters, that I often forgot that I was listening to just one woman.
Anne Bishop clearly writes for a female audience but although I heard the first book in the series referred to as young adult, having read the second I personally wouldn't put such a tag on this series. I'm in my late thirties and can see the book appealing to a much wider audience. The heroine is 24 not a teenager and Bishop doesn't flinch away from any of the harder issues which although not gratuitous are clearly spelt out.