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Jamie Sleeman

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  • 14
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  • 18
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Very good story, mediocre performance.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-07-20

I'm much more a fan of Cornwell's Starbuck Chronicles than I am of Richard Sharpe, his original 19th century swasher of buckles. The characters are more nuanced and they are generally more fun. Sadly, this audiobook is dreadful.

I'd actually heard a few chapters of the American version of this novel on YouTube (which wouldn't let me report it for piracy, because the people who run YouTube are cretins) and decided to buy it on Audible. Sadly, it wasn't available, but this English version was.

Given that all of the characters are Americans, WHY even bother making a British version?!?! It makes less than zero sense. It makes MINUS sense. Even worse is that the performer of the British edition, is the possessor of accent impersonations that would make even Dick van Dyke go, "Damn son, you just ain't got it!", and that he reads in a horrible, halting fashion that makes me keep wanting to check that the app hasn't been accidentally paused.

I would give anything to be able to buy the American edition, which is much better!

My hero

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-05-20

Not to waffle or anything, but if I have a hero in the public eye, it's Stephen Fry. He'll cringe or think I'm loopy (or a groupie) if he reads this, but there is nothing more inspiring than hearing the story of someone so successful, when at one point (or many) they have been wallowing in the depths of a totally ruined life. The value of his autobiography is not in the engaging story or the wonderful audio recording of it (although he has done both perfectly); it's in hearing the tale of someone who was at the Rockiest of rock-bottoms, suicidal and imprisoned, but who somehow turned their life around and redeemed themselves.

Good on you Stephen. Thank you.

Excellent book, mediocre reader. <br />

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-10-19

Splendid piece of literature, but it is a massive irritation when the "professional" reader constantly refers to Barnes Wallace as "Willis". How the hell was this never picked up by the company? Very amateur.

And now for something completely different....

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-10-19

Well-written, humorous and intelligent book written by a well-read, humorous and intelligent person, even if he hasn't yet worked out that no-one is fooled by that combover. (Seriously Cheese old man, embrace the slaphead. It's liberating.)

Can't wait for part 2 to come out, so I can buy that too!

The Martian cover art

A perfect waste of a few hours

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-06-19

Wonderful, impeccably written story. Very good performance by reader, too. Well worth your time. Lovely.

A disappointment

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-03-19

I first encountered Wayne's masterful music adpatation as an eight year old child and the novel as an eleven year old. I grew to love both in the intervening three decades or so and even bought the CD version with added material and starring Liam Neeson, as well as owning the original LP. This, I thought, might be worth it. It wasn't.
It's an interesting idea. The musical LP and the novel have a lot of distinct differences and this seeks in many ways to unite them. The author's nameless wife of the novel and Carrie, the fiance of the musical, are blended to form a composite wife called Carrie, who is used as a POV character in London in this, a role played by the journalist's brother in the novel and awkwardly shoehorned into the journalist's in the musical. That is quite interesting and a brave attempt at telling the story in a new way. But the narrative is awful, not all the time, but in significant places.
It gives the impression of being a first draft that no-one could be bothered to proof-read. In no fewer than three places I noticed in one listen-through that lines of the narrative had been used twice, the adaptor apparently oblivious in their jiggling around of the material, that they had done this. This is an awful, secondary school English class error. Just as bad is the useage of the music.
The tunes of the album soar and glide, slink and flinch, make you tremble in fear, or feel the rapid heartbeat of relief and joy, as the occasion demands. It is one of the most beautiful and evocative uses of music in history I've ever encountered. But here, they too often start jerkily and abruptly, as if some clod had dropped the stylus of a record player from a height, carelessly into the vinyl grooves. It must be one of the least competent musical editing jobs ever done. Pieces of music are used out of place and for the wrong reasons, too. During a fast-paced piece of action, a slow and sonorous musical theme is applied. And NOWHERE are there any lyrics sung. I realise this was supposed to be a play, but my God, what a waste!
The narration is listless and dull, Michael Sheen doesn't capture half of the energy and urgency of either Richard Burton or Liam Neeson. All in all, a waste. Read the novel or pick up a copy of the original musical on LP or CD. But don't bother with this. It gets two stars by virtue of being such an excellent base story and having at least a crumb of the original Jeff Wayne musical genius, but I felt I awarded it grudgingly.

1 person found this helpful

Hit and miss.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-04-18

This is a wonderful story and I couldn't reccomend George R.R. Martin's tales of Westeros highly enough. As good as the television series is, this is better. More fleshed out, more characters, more body.

Somehow the author has taken a story about dragons, magic and myth and woven them into a gritty and realistic narrative . Stunning work and despite his assertions to the contrary, better than Tolkein's body of work about Arda, in my opinion.

However....

The reading of this book by Roy Dotrice is BLOODY AWFUL! He gives the weirdest and most inappropriate voices imaginable to the characters. Tyrion Lannister for instance, who of anyone in this should have had a cut-glass RP accent, is given a voice by Dotrice that sounds reminiscent of Dick van Dyke trying to play a Hobbit. It's an outrageously stupid cod Westcountry accent. Ned Stark on the other hand, a man who should have a quirky accent, being as he is, a fantasy version of a cross between a medieval Northumbrian and a Viking lord, is given Dotrice's own RP-ish voice. Many other characters are similarly badly voiced, some of them so badly done (as opposed to the voice simply being inappropriate) that it genuinely sounds like it is being done for comedy effect. I'm reminded of Hugh Laurie in the second series of Blackadder, comically imitating the voice of a Tudor serving wench.
'Will you 'ave another piece of poy, moi lawd?'
But worst of all, the crowning piece of corn on the turd of voice actor ineptitude, is the way he doesn't so much murder the pronunciation of people's names, as hang them, cut them down while alive, draw their bowels out with a two foot hook and then quarter them into pieces to be displayed on spikes.
It should be obvious to anyone reading these books that the names are mostly ordinary ones, save for those that originate from exotic languages, such as those of the Targaryens. (Who he all gets spot on, rather weirdly.) Some of these names have quirky spellings, such as Petyr Baelish's. It is obvious that this should be pronounced the same way as "Peter". Yet Dotrice turns it into Peh-tire. And after a few hours and several dozen repetitions it gets REALLY bloody irritating. Worse than listening to people calling the letter Aitch "Haitch" irritating. With Joffrey he repeatedly, but not always, calls him Geoffrey, interspersing this with the correct pronunciation. On at least one occasion he calls the spiteful Lannister boy both Joffrey and Geoffrey in THE SAME SENTENCE!
I have never in my life heard a worse reading performance. He also often gives the impression of someone who's run out of breath midway through a sentence and has to pause to recover it before finishing. At the least this is distracting, at the worst it is majorly annoying.
I know Roy Dotrice has done the audiobook recordings for all five of the Song of Ice and Fire novels published so far. By the time George R.R. Martin comes out with The Winds of Winter (if he can extract himself from all his more profitable side projects for long enough to actually do it) I sincerely hope they have a different reader record it. This one is so awful, you wonder how he ever got the job. And how did anyone at Audible never pick up on how third rate his performances are?

3 people found this helpful

Mixed bag

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-16

This is not a particularly well-written book, but it has achieved an iconic status for its ability to make people think. It is pretty damn long and some passages are excruciatingly expository, but if you're into anything "New Age" or consider yourself an alternative thinker, you'll enjoy it.
The big downside is Martin McDougall's narrative performance, which is, quite frankly, one of the worst readings I've ever heard. He has roughly the vocal range of an early-career Arnold Schwarzenegger and will pause in mid-sentence for roughly twice as long as you normally would for the end of one before continuing, which gives a very disjointed and sometimes confusing experience for the listener. Can't believe this guy can make a living doing this job.

3 people found this helpful

Excellent narrative, mind-bendingly bad narrator.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-16

What did you like most about When Britain Saved the West?

The narrative.

What other book might you compare When Britain Saved the West to, and why?

Every book about the Second World War ever written.

How could the performance have been better?

The reader of this audiobook, Shaun Grindell, is one of the worst and most irritating readers I have encountered in almost a hundred Audible titles. He reads like an American affecting a British accent in some second-rate sci-fi show, and it is like nails being raked torturously down a chalkboard.
His accent is as English as my ears can detect, but his pronunciation and spoken grammar are entirely American. To listen to him butcher English place names like Berkshire (the first syllable of which he pronounces to rhyme with "twerk", as opposed to "Bark", which is how it should be pronounced) or Bromwich (which he separates into two detached syllables as "Brom-witch", instead of the "Bromich" which a normal British person would do) is nearly as painful as his mangling of dates and numbers. Instead of reading a date as (for example) "the twenty third of September", he says "September twenty three". There is not a person born on this island who pronounces dates in such a way, unless it be whilst tied to a chair and with a gun to their head held by an American linguist with designs on etymological reverse-colonialism.
I accept I may be easier to irritate over such things than many people, but for me it is a horrendous distraction to an otherwise very fine and detailed book.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

"The film they refused to hire Shaun Grindell to narrate."

Any additional comments?

Please do not ever hire Shaun Grindell to narrate a book ever again. He makes my ears bleed.

3 people found this helpful

Darkness gathers.....

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-12-15

In a series of convoluted, carefully woven stories, this has been my favourite since the day I first read it.
In Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts there are no quiet patches, there is always something happening and our hero's resources are tested like never before. He has the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher yet (a mentally frazzled ex-auror - the Wizard World's equivalent of an FBI-cum-MI6 agent) and his unexpected enforced participation in the international Tri-Wizard tournament puts him through trials almost as strenuous as the final book does.
This is where Harry''s exploits explode onto the world stage in a big way and the world of childhood is, for him, left behind forever.
The story twists and turns lime a.... twisty, turny thing and has more sub-plots than a US naval base.
Stephen Fry turns in an excellent performance (it's nice to hear Latin pronounced correctly for once!) and his voice for Voldemorte is better than in Philosopher's Stone, where it didn't sound much different from his voice for Dobby. He still doesn't sound as satanically mental as Ralph Fiennes, but that actor's performance is hard to equal and probably impossible to beat.
Hugely enjoyable. Get it and dive into the Wizarding World for a day or two.