On The Ipod: Current Audiobooks


A Feast For Crows:

Boy, did I make a big mistake! Having read the first three books of G.R.R. Martin's The Song of Fire and Ice series, and having heard through the grapevine that the fourth, A Feast for Crows, was a bit less enjoyable, I decided it might be a good idea to consume the dubious volume via audio book; a more passive experience. But little did I know that the narrator of the audio version I chose, who is normally a very good audiobook actor, Roy Dotrice, would make such poor vocalization choices for many of the characters; so poor in fact as to mar the reading experience beyond repair.

Dotrice starts out well enough, his rich English, Scottish and Welsh intonations adding a Shakespearean quality to Martin's tale, but with the introduction of Lord Renly's champion, the valorous female Knight, Brienne of Tarth, his thespian choices take a dive. Firstly he pronounces her name Bry-een, whereas if you watch the superlative HBO series A Game of Thrones (named after the first book in the series), you will note that the Amazon Knight's name is pronounced Bree-Enn by all who address her. Though this is the least of my complaints.

Barry Fitzgerald
When first I heard Dotrice's reading of her lines, I thought perhaps it was not her speaking but instead the author had added a companion for the lonely and unprepossessing chevalier; another dwarf, similar to Tyrion Lannister maybe, only this time spouting the high timbre brogue of a leprechaun. To my great disappointment, I soon realized my hopeful conjecture was merely fantasy. Instead, this was Dotrice rendering for the listener, Brienne! Did no one on the audio production team suggest to him that this might be a poor choice? Imagine it: a towering female armor clad warrior sounding like Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way. For the devout followers of George R.R. Martin, this is an offense tantamount to blasphemy

If the vocal diminishment of Brienne was the only transgression of Dotrice's performance I could forgive him, substitute a more dignified and deeper voice in my head whenever the Amazon-cum-leprechaun has something to say and be done with it. But no, he doesn't stop there. There are many other characters that get the same treatment, in fact the same voice. Arya Stark, for one has a slightly higher Irish brogue than Brienne; well she is just ten or eleven years old, but still the accent is just wrong. Asha Greyjoy is another tomboyish yet sexy warrior type from the Iron Isles dubbed with the prosody of the little people. I am beginning to think of all the strong women of Westeros as the descendants of diminutive Dubliners, and whom all, by rights, have equal claims on a pot of gold.

Brienne of Tarth

There are other vocal blunders I won't even mention except to say one scene involves the affair of a supposedly steely knight and a promiscuous princess that I'm sure Martin did not intend to be a hilarious farce. If the reader considers all the narrator's errant pronunciations together, I can't imagine them having a favorable opinion of this audiobook. Even the accomplished storyteller, George R.R. Martin's, words cannot trump the fiasco of Roy Dotrice's intonations. Thankfully there is another unabridged version of this book on audio read to you by John Lee. I have not listened to it, but I just might, with the intention of recording over my tarnished impressions.