I love audio books. Oh my. How I do love them. Oh so very much.
I got hooked on them when I was making near-weekly trips across Kansas to visit my parents while I was in college. Steven King books were my favorite at the time, but thankfully, I’ve branched out. Not much, because I get focused on an author and find myself sitting at work with an ear bud sticking out of my head, while I plug away in my sad little cubicle with my brain on autopilot.
By far, so far, my favorite is the Harry Potter series. I’ve listened to them dozens on times over the years. It’s not just that I enjoy the series, but the performance is wonderful. All seven books are read by actor Jim Dale, whom you may remember as Dr. Terminus, the snake-oil salesman in Pete’s dragon. His performance is exquisite. He created well over 200 distinct and individual character voices throughout the series, and it is an absolute treat to listen to, over and over. He’s the kind of performer that could read the ingredients of shampoo and still make you squee with delight.
I have to wonder if I would have enjoyed the Harry Potter series as much as I have over the years if it hadn’t been for him.
Yeah. I would have. But I’m still glad he got on board.
But that’s all over now. We’ve all gotten the closure we needed with the final film, and we can all finally shut up about it. Or we can fantasize about spin-off films or maybe a TV series. Personally, I’d prefer if it was left alone. It was wonderful while it lasted, but then I’ve said that about a dozen things that I can’t watch anymore, because HOLLYWOOD RUINS EVERYTHING.
But that’s another post.
Now I mention the Harry Potter books to make another point entirely.
For me, and likely for so many of you, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” by George R.R. Martin has filled the void that the Harry Potter series has left. The new HBO series is developing an amazing following.
Last week marked the release of the latest book in the series, “A Dance with Dragons.” I rushed out to get the audio book, and I’ve listened to the rest of them a couple of times now. I mean, it was five years since the last book, so I had plenty of time to get caught up.
I’m about half way through listening to the latest offering, which is read by Roy Dotrice, as were three of the last four books. John Lee, for reasons that I don’t care to research right now, read “A Feast for Crows.”
I’m going to give credit where credit is due. Roy Dotrice got his taste for performance as a prisoner of war, entertaining his fellow prisoners to raise their spirits. He was still a teenager at the time. His pedigree is impressive, and he has performed with some of the greatest actors of his generation. He also did this….
He’s an amazing actor, truly, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing his performance of this wonderful, wonderful fantasy. He was thoroughly amazing as Vincent’s father in the 80’s television series, “Beauty and the Beast,” also created by George R.R. Martin.
But the television series made me realize something about the audio books, and it’s a phrase I coined a while back, that I use entirely too often.
Nothing ruins a good time like a basis of comparison.
As I listen to the new book, I’m realizing, after watching the show (which you can read more about on this awesome website), that Roy’s voice is showing his age. Every character in the books sound fifty years older than they actually are. As I listen I form images of the characters in my mind, and up until this point, they were all either crusty old codgers or ladies long past their prime.
Now I’m listening to him perform Daenarys’ dialogue, and I’m trying to picture her youthful visage of epic hotness. I just. can’t. do it. His voice has turned her into a wrinkly hag. With arm flaps and a waggley chin. It’s like that with everybody, except the characters that are already old and supposed to sound a little weather worn.
It’s really, really hard to deal with.
I get that he’s an amazing actor with a strong connection to the author and a resume’ that I’d be hard pressed to find it’s equal. I just think he was miscast in this regard. I’m enjoying the book IMMENSELY, however, and when I’m finished with it, I’ll post a review of it’s content. But for now, I’m not giving you any spoilers or anything. Read it yourself. Or listen to it, it’s up to you. I think you’ll dig it either way.
‘Til next time,