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The Elfin Ship cover art

The Elfin Ship

By: James P. Blaylock
Narrated by: Malk Williams
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Summary

Trading with the elves used to be so simple. Every year Master Cheeser Jonathan Bing would send his very best cheeses downriver to traders who would eventually return with Elfin wonders for the people of Twombly Town. But no more.

First the trading post at Willowood Station was mysteriously destroyed. Then a magical elfin airship began making forays overhead; Jonathan knew something was definitely amiss. So he set off downriver to deliver the cheeses himself, accompanied by the amazing Professor Wurzle, the irrepressible Dooly, and his faithful dog Ahab.

It would have been a pleasant trip, if not for the weeping skeleton, mad goblins, magic coins, an evil dwarf, a cloak of invisibility - and a watch that stopped time. However, the return trip would not be so simple.

This, the first volume in a trilogy, tells the story of Master Cheeser Jonathan Bing who sends his best cheeses downriver each year to the elves, in exchange for elfin treasures for the people of Twombly Town. When things go wrong, Jonathan has to set out to deliver the cheeses himself.

©1982 James P. Blaylock (P)2014 Audible Studios

Critic reviews

"A magical world, magically presented...having journeyed there, you will not wish to leave, nor ever to forget." (Philip K. Dick)

What listeners say about The Elfin Ship

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wallace and Gromit meet Swallows and Amazons

Would you consider the audio edition of The Elfin Ship to be better than the print version?

The audiobook is best for me because I like to listen whilst knitting and therefore do not have my hands free to turn the pages. In this case I also think the narrator's voice added a depth to the characters and the environment and enhanced the link to Wallace and Gromit (a favourite of mine). His voice is warm and friendly (as I think the book should be) and feels like a well-loved uncle reading the story.

What other book might you compare The Elfin Ship to, and why?

Wallace and Gromit - a Northern cheesemaker and his dog go on an adventure.
Swallows and Amazons - It is a rafting and boating adventure
Enid Blyton - Told in a slightly (mock?) old-fashioned children's bed time story style.
Lord of the Rings - Travelling adventure with a (mostly) safe elven town as part-way refuge. Spooky woods, Elves and dwarfs and other fantasy creatures including rather silly goblins.
Scooby Doo - The intrepid team have to investigate the goings on in the spooky woods

What about Malk Williams’s performance did you like?

The softly spoken Northern tones and accents Malk Williams uses in reading it are just perfect for the Wallace and Gromit-like atmosphere and add a lot to the character of the book and its inhabitants. I loved it.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It is light hearted and humerous even when the bad things happen and has wonderfully imagined and evoked characters.

Any additional comments?

It is characterful and intrepid in all the best ways.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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A relaxing fun journey

A light hearted cross between the Wind in the Willows and the Hobbit. For me it was excellent bedtime listening. I love nothing more in this world (or an alternative one) than taking the dog on a river journey coupled with a nice spot of lunch.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

After only 5 minutes I stopped listening.

What would have made The Elfin Ship better?

not sure it's redeemable

Would you ever listen to anything by James P. Blaylock again?

Absolutely not

Would you be willing to try another one of Malk Williams’s performances?

Perhaps if he didn't use the same dreadful accent

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Elfin Ship?

Didn't listen to it. Waste of money

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Just not interesting enough

The narrator uses a mock Northern accent, which could sound ok in the right circumstance, but undermines the idea by describing cotton wood trees on the river banks and Lima beans. These things are not really known in Yorkshire. The characters are shallow and the storyline weak. Maybe kids up to 7 years of age would like it, but I suspect anyone older would find it irritating.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Charming

I'm giving this 3 stars purely based on its charm which it has bucket loads of. Its the sort of charm of the hobbit or the wind in the willows, as I think a previous review has mentioned. It makes you want to settle down with a cup of tea, some freshly baked bread and good cheese to watch the birds dig for worms in the garden.

Unfortunately however, for me the story simply wasn't that compelling. I liked pretty much all of the of the characters but was never very invested in them. I didn't find the plot hugely thrilling, but as I said above its wonderfully charming.

The narrator is excellent and does good voices for the characters which seem to suit them well.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Utter twadle, but not entirely in a bad way...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

The 1st half of the book is very long winded and really not much happens, it could be cut in half and the book would have been much the better for it. The 2nd half of the book picks up in both pace and interest but I still found it a struggle. It's not that the story is bad I just didn't really enjoy Blaylocks style or characters.

What will your next listen be?

The fantasies I've enjoyed most recently were the Name of the Wind series and Joe Abercrombies book so I will try and find something like those....

Which character – as performed by Malk Williams – was your favourite?

He made the best of a bad lot really....

Do you think The Elfin Ship needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I certainly won't be looking out for it but I'm sure there's a market for it

Any additional comments?

If you like Terry Pratchett there's a chance you may enjoy this, though it's not as good as his lesser books....

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