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Superb production

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-05-09

Reviewing these books (the whole trilogy, not just the first volume), a classic work of the twentieth century, would be an impertinence I think. It's unlikely you'd consider buying the whole set if you don't already know and enjoy the story. If you admire it without reservation you're possibly unusual. In such a sweeping and varied epic there will inevitably be elements you respond to less than others; for me these would include characters such as Tom Bombadil, many of the songs, the master-servant relationship between some of the Hobbits and the rather stilted, pseudo-Biblical prose style of some of the later sections of The Return of the King. Those are purely subjective responses though; others may well enjoy those very aspects.

What impressed me most, after buying and listening to the complete work (over 52 hours) was the mastery of the reader, Rob Inglis. Other long stories have been ruined for me by a monotonous or weak reading. In a sense, Inglis is in competition with the BBC radio dramatisation (which I thought excellent and still return to)and more recently the three-film version (which I thought equally brilliant). Given that, his rendition is a delight, a tour de force in fact. He never lost my interest, seeming to command a completely convincing and extensive repertoire of character voices which managed to carry the narrative along with complete authority. Brilliant. Thank you, Mr Inglis..! (Out of curiosity I checked listener reviews of this production on Amazon's website and was astonished to find that some thought it dreadful. Interestingly there were no 'in-between' reviews, either 'superb' or 'awful'. I guess you'll just have to buy the first volume to decide what your own response is...)

121 people found this helpful

Shogun cover art

Magnificent story; bizarre narration

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-10-08

Reviewing the content of this audiobook would produce a 5 star rating. It's a totally engrossing story which opens out from the very narrow focus of the plight of a small group of men until eventually it encompasses an epic climax of Japanese history. If you haven't read the book you may well be fascinated enough to listen right through. If you are already familiar with the novel - and especially if it's a favourite - you might well have a very different response. I have to say it's the most disappointing audiobook I've ever bought; I managed around the first two hours, then couldn't stomach any more. Another reviewer mentioned unfavourably the way it is narrated. I can only describe the choice of style as bizarre. The reader adopts a sort of langourous, lazy upper-class English accent which I personally found grating as well as inappropriate, the more so because of the odd, monotonous cadences which seemed to relate little to the content or context. I was cheered up when John Blackthorne, the central character, spoke, and the Dutch sailors also had some discernible character in the way they were rendered. Enter the Japanese, however, and all subtlety exits; the closest I can get to describing them is that they sound like Daleks without the electronic sound effect, almost totally without expression - think monotone. And when the Portuguese pilot, Rodrigues, turns up it doesn't take long for distinct hints of stereotyped 'Mexican cantina' to creep in. I wish it weren't so, because I'd looked forward so much to enjoying this classic saga again. If you're considering it, do listen very carefully to the sample snippet to hear what you're in for; a shame that this doesn't contain an example of the Japanese speaking style I've mentioned. 'Maybe', as another reviewer wrote, 'it's just me?' No it isn't...

6 people found this helpful