This is Part Two of Book 1 of the A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Series.
This first volume in the hugely popular and highly acclaimed epic fantasy series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is unabridged and split into two parts. Now a major Sky Atlantic TV series from HBO, starring Sean Bean. Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men... all will play the Game of Thrones. Winter is coming...
©2011 George R. R. Martin (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"A Game of Thrones grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant." (Robert Jordan)
"Colossal, staggering... Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome in his imaginary world... one of the greats of fantasy literature." (SFX)
"Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads... Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias." (Guardian)
The story is brilliant - what stops these audiobooks being five star recs from me is the narration.
I wonder whether this is another of those US/UK taste things - perhaps different elements of narration strike us, whilst other elements pass us by? In the case of this audiobook, characters change accents, characters get mis-named (Joffrey frequently becomes Geoffrey), and the narrator's tone often seems to be at odds with the text.
There are two killers for me, though, which cause me to hit 'pause' before I throw the iPod at the wall. The first is Mr Dotrice's tendency to interject pauses mid-sentence (and yet, at other times, he'll run on immediately to a new scene with nary a breath), which just breaks the story's flow and makes it harder to follow than it need be.
The second is more personal, I admit, but his habit of assigning an *awful* cod-Irish accent to any arguably 'ethnic' character, the bizarre decision to have Tyrion's voice in Welsh (for the most part!) vs the rest of his family, and voicing characters like Theon as though they're middle-aged... All these are, to me, jarring, but I appreciate that you've got a cast of thousands, and so it's going to be difficult to make them all distinct.
I listen to audiobooks whilst walking the dog - normally in hour plus chunks. I almost never managed to get a solid hour's listen in with these books; I'd always reach a point where the narration was so painful that I had to switch the iPod off. The fact that I've completed the book is testament to the compelling story, despite the pains of narration.
Half an hour into this book I was regretting buying it, and I was wondering when the story was ever going to get going, and I knew this really wasn't for me. That written, I decided to keep listening, have it playing in the background as I did other things, and see how the story panned out. I'm not sure when it happened but, somewhere during the tale, I was completely hooked! Roy Dotrice's narration is masterful and his calm and dulcet tones are very easy to listen to and he brings character after character, and the story, to life.
I've just finished both parts of "A Game of Thrones" and next month will be getting both parts of the 2nd book ... be careful your bank balance though ... starting with this one, you could get more than you bargined for ... I've also now bought the first 4 books as paperbacks and the 5th in hardback. This was my first forray into fantasy fiction ... and I was very pleasantly surprised.
Be warned though ... I read another review recently, which suggested there's plenty of violence, without the customary humour found in other books of the genre and, though I don't know what is customary, I understand what the reviewer was getting at. When the action starts, the blood and gore flow freely, and this story is set in "harder" times
My recommendation? Enjoy this audiobook ... I definitely did ...
I started this series having watched the Game of Throne series on TV and it has not disappointed. It does take time to get into the stories as there are so many characters, plot lines and background history. What really helped me to follow what is happening was a website called Tower of the Hand, which has summaries of each chapter and links to biographies of all the characters.
A great ranges of interesting characters with most showing shades of good and bad in their actions. Tyrion the dwarf is a great literary creation. The author is a natural story teller, packing the narrative with sparkling dialogue, inventive action, and most chapters end on cliffhangers. Unusually for a fantasy series many of the early battles are only described to us in the third person, although later books start to describe the battles as first person encounters.
An all time classic
The complexity and interaction of the characters
He destroyed it for me. Some reviews think the narrator is great but sometimes I just don't know how certain narrators are chosen. Robert, a king in his late 40's/early 50's sounds like he's 90! Dotrice's aural depiction of women characters is just plane dreadful. In fact I find him so bad I've asked for a refund on these books as I just can't listen to him. If Dotrice and been given something like The Hobbit or Lord of The Rings his voice would have matched perfectly but where there are so many characters he just can't carry it off in my opinion. So please, all you producers of audio books, please think carefully about who you choose to read it as this choice of narrator has destroyed one of my favourite series of novels.
Game of Thrones in book form was one of my all time favourite reads but think twice before getting the audio version. It's fine if you like some gravelly voiced old guy narrating but the wrong voice for the book just about kills off any decent characterisation within the story. I'm not being agist but sometimes you just need a younger actor that can bring a wider range to the characterisation.
The Game of Thrones series consists of several long books so this is a painless way to get through them all without spending months of your life reading.
So far my favourite character is Danaerys Targaryan - she has grown into her new role as khaleesi and is a true queen
Roy Dotrice is 90 now and it shows in his voice - he often sounds breathless and sometimes reads as if he is seeing the story for the first time and has not rehearsed. Some of his character voices are a bit bizarre - Tyrion Lannister speaks with a Welsh accent but his siblings Cersei and Jaime do not. Some of the characters are made to sound more like pirates with lots of 'oo aarr' going on ! To some extent I have found the narration a distraction from the plot and would try to avoid this narrator in future if possible.
Has anybody else downloaded this and found that in the second part (the second of the two parts you download), the recording cuts out in the middle of a chapter, about between 2 and 3 hours in? I've downloaded it twice, and still have this problem.
This is a great story. Epic in scale and well written.
In common with the reviews here, I would suggest 2 points.
1) the narration is terrible. I bought this book 4 months ago and initially couldnt get past the first 5 minutes of part one the reading is so poor. I persevered in the end, as I didnt want to waste the cash. I am glad that I did as the book is excelent. Audible, please don't use this narrator again. Sub-par is not the phrase, but the politest one I can think of.
2) Splitting all of the books into two shortish parts just strikes me as greedy. It was one book when it was published, why split it into two for an audio book? Oh, I know, to make more cash. Yes, audible is not a charity, but this seems like a deeply cynical move to me.
What is happening with this book?? described as being in 2 parts but in fact there must be a further 2 parts missing ! I notice that others have complained about this and yet Audible haven't rectified the situation. It really is most disatisfactory to purchase a product to find that you have only received half of it! Now I have to go to the bother of making a complaint. This audiobook is available as a whole item (33 hours long) on itunes for £22 btw.
Dl'd both parts this week. Both show up as 8 hour downloads in the library, 16/17 in the descriptions? Similarly the end... Is it an ending? (also ends with the 'you have reached the end of a part but not the book' message).
So, um, have I listened to the whole book or not? I'm more that a little confused.
I liked Dotrice as a narrator though, to balance out the other review.
"I just can't wait..."
I just finished listening to this one and I can't wait to hear the rest of the series... Roy Dotrice's Performance is superb.
Though prone to a bit of rambling here and there, and certainly capable of writing the odd dull character here and there, this is simply a classic book. The only thing that could improve would be if the narrator was some kind of vocal magician, able to cast a huge cast and somehow give them all a uniquely identifiable voice. Step forward Mr Dotrice who does a faultless, flawless job.
I'm not really much of a dragons and knights fantasy reader, but the TV series turned me to these books and I burned through all of them in rapid succession. If only he wrote faster...
What a great book. Can't wait for the next book. Love the way that George RR Martin puts his chapters into different characters names. You soon love or hate certain characters. Roy Dotrice is there any voice the man can't do. Look if you want a great book to listen to this would be a great one. Lanuage is a bit strong, so you might not want to listen to this on and Ipod dock.
"A rich and compelling story"
The voice acting is amazing, and very well read. Alongside a great story this makes it a must-listen.
How each character is rich with their own history and personality.
"Brought to life!"
Really enjoying this read.
Roy Dotrice's voice and vision add so much depth to what is one of the greatest epic fantasy series to date. Having originally enjoyed the novels and wanting to approach from a different angle, this revisit is putting new flavour to my recollections and I'm discovering nuances previously unnoticed.
My only disappointment is a small one. Roy is not consistent with the accents he uses. It may simply be a technique he uses to make a character stand out however family groupings and sovereign peoples generally speak the same-ish. Only a small point though.
If you are looking to dive head first into the worlds of George RR then wait no further. If you haven’t read the books don’t let that worry you. If you are like me and simply want to revisit an old friend, then you won’t regret it.*
(*usual disclaimers apply).
"Excellent series and story line"
Great story line. Will be reading more of this wonderful series. Keep them coming. :)
"A clock and Dagger Cunningly Executed, Fantasy"
Amongst the top of my list of Audios.
The telling of this story as it unfolds.
Raw, Gravelly,sometimes sounding monotone in his telling, and sometimes he sounds as though he is just reading the text.
No. I had to take breaks from listening
The whole series of this Authors story is fantastic to read. The film version outdoes both the read of the story and the listening of it. The whole of it ---A very creative and imaginative series. Throughly enjoyable.
"Stories epic in scale and detail"
I have not read the print version
There are so many great characters. It is too difficult to choose just one. One of the most amazing things about this author is that he treats the characters realistically. As a result, it is very difficult to predict what will happen to them.
He was good with them all.
"Completely ruined by the horrible reader"
A better narrator
The story was great! Intriguing and exciting.
ANYONE but him. That was the worst narration I've ever heard. I listened for half an hour and then gave up. I wish I hadn't bought all of them before listening!!
Of course. The book is amazing. Definitely worth a read. I'm just going to have to take the time to read it myself.
"A great plot ruined by poor style and narration"
I seriously wanted to enjoy this, but a number of hours into the first book I had to put it down. Firstly the narrator is incapable of varying his voice beyond a monotone, provide any sense of engagement in the story line or make the characters sound different enough that you aren't left guessing who is talking at the time. When you've come from listening to Stephen Pacey you'll understand.
This really killed it for me.
Secondly, I find Martin's writing style to be verging on the childish. Character thoughts and actions don't string together well. Stupidly unnecessary sexual references and a distinct lack of real connection to some characters makes it very difficult to feel involved in the story line. There is so much chopping changing from one scene/characters to the next, I felt totally confused.
Fortunately, this excellent plot series is rescued by the screen drama, which despite losing some of the detail makes the whole series very enjoyable. This book is like a draft for a television drama. Tortuous to read or listen to, but with creative guidance it makes for top viewing.
I certainly won't be listening to anything further by Martin or anything narrated by Dotrice, but I'll gladly buy the GoT series on DVD.
My recommendation: skip the book, watch the series.
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