An Audio-Book Review: May the “Moral Law” Be With You!

The Art of War

By Sun Tzu

Adapted by Stefan Rudnicki

Published by Phoenix Audio

Read by Ron Silver and B. D. Wong with Stefan Rudnicki and Shauna  Zubrugg

 

The Book:

The Art of War is one of those classics of ancient writing that have not only survived into the modern world, but strongly influenced our thinking. Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher. He is thought to have lived from 544 to 496 BC during the Zhou Dynasty which would have made him roughly contemporaneous with Confucius (founder of Confucianism) and Laozi (or Lao Tzu) the founder of Taoism. A quick trip to Wikipedia will reveal that just who and when he was is uncertain, but I think most of the confusion comes from later writers discussing him and his work… or not. It’s also possible that Sun Tsu was a nom de plume. There is also some argument over possible anachronisms in the text, but then it is possible later editors might have added and subtracted from the text over the centuries. Other scholars will tell you he most likely was a real person who wrote the core of this book

The historicity of the man and whether he really wrote this book or is just the name used to compile several editions under, probably does not matter if you are interested in this as a study of military philosophy and possibly even how it can be applied to other aspects of life in the modern world. The book varies only based on who did the translation.

The version we know is a philosophical masterpiece on strategy and conflicts. It has been used as a basis for military thought since it was first distributed internationally and is still referred to by general and businessmen alike. Because it has been with us a very long times there have been quite a few translations from the original, so it’s not a bad idea to read several editions to get a general idea of the scope one can get. It is not an incredibly long book, even with the traditional commentaries, and repeated readings may afford you new insights, especially if you do so every few years.

This edition, is an interesting addition to the corpus of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, but might not be the best one to start off with first. I am not sure why, although perhaps to try to either demonstrate how Sun Tzu’s writing is still relevant or to make it all seem to be a practical guide to the modern world, but in compiling this edition some more modern military people, such as Stonewall Jackson, Colin Powell and others were placed in the test. I found them a bit jarring, although I will admit that some of them appear in my one written copy of this book. It’s nice to know that Sun Tzu’s principals can be demonstrated throughout history, but to tell us that notables like Julius Caesar followed these same conventions of warfare almost sounds like an implication that Sun Tzu’s 13 chapters influenced them although it is not very likely Caesar ever heard of Sun Tzu, much less read his work.

Admittedly, this is not the only edition of The Art of War that does this and some of the 19th and early 20th Century additions appear to have become canon and, in a sense, all the earlier Chinese commentators have done the same thing, but do we really need to add still more anecdotes to the book

These more modern insertions were not commentaries on Sun Tzu, although I imagine at least some of those more modern people have read the book, but unrelated statements on military situations that demonstrate, in some aspect, things said by Sun Tzu in whichever chapter they are being used. Some who have read earlier editions and appreciated stories of the Duke of Wellington, et alia, may find these additions interesting. Considering, how the bulk of this work is commentary by others already, I did not feel the need for still more. Perhaps, had this been a serious modern study of Sun Tzu with many examples (and possibly exceptions?) and had the resulting volume been two or three times the size of the original it might have been something I would see as a text book for a college-level class, but the few additions I caught here felt more like someone wanted to leave his own mark on the book.

That was not quite so bad compared to one translation quirk that led them to choose to translate a concept I have previously seen as “Moral Law” (which I had previously read was generally seen as a “Principle of Harmony” similar to Lao Tzu’s Tao) into “The Force.” This was justified as fitting in with military thinking, but it was also admitted that it was done with the “Star Wars” series in mind. That one change ruined the whole book for me as it was impossible to take it seriously after repeated used of “The Force.”

So, definitely do not make this your first foray into the teaching of Master Sun! On the other hand, if you have read other versions and want to increase your acquaintance with Sun Tzu, then it’s not all that bad.

 

The Audiobook:

If I was left cold by aspects of this version of The Art of War, that was not the case of the performances of the actual readers. I did grow a bit tired of the classic (for which read, “borderline cliché” Chinese flute music going on and on in the background at the start and end of each chapter, but I felt the readers presented the subject matter very well and it was a pleasant delight to listen to them.

Since I started listening to this, I have downloaded several other editions of The Art of War which I plan to listen to later this year. It is possible I will rethink my opinions on this as I get through them, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, as I said above, this probably should not be your introduction to Sun Tzu’s classic work, but may provide further valuable insight to someone seeking to study the principles within The Art of War and it is hard to imagine a better reading of it.

Advertisements
Posted in Audio Books, Books, HIstory, Nonfiction, Sun Tzu | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Audio-Book Review: Hey, Boss!

Jhereg

Vlad Taltos, Book1
By Steven Brust
Published by Audible Studios
Read by Bernard Setaro Clark

 

The Book:

I first read this one back in 1983 when it was first released. I’m tempted to be sarcastic and say it is the heart-warming story of a young human assassin holding his own in a world of potentially immortal superhumans. Well, what can I say? In “High Concept” every story sounds silly. For example: “The Illiad” – A Greek king is cuckolded, so he and his allies wage war in revenge. “Les Misérables” – The story of a serial convict and his rises and falls throughout life. “The Great Gatsby” – A young millionaire falls in love with a former debutante (on Hallmark Channel this Saturday at 9pm). And so on. Coming up with high concept descriptions of favorite novels can be a fun party game; “The Lord of the Rings” – A group of little people must transport a magic ring to a volcano. See? Don’t get me started on “A Christmas Carol!”

This series does involve a human master assassin, Vlad Taltos in a world where there are two species of intelligent humanoids (Easterners/humans and Dragaerans) and in this time and place the Dragaerans are in charge. The Easterners are a foreign minority, but Vlad’s father spent his last pfennig (or whatever) to purchase a title in the Dragaeran House of Jhereg (the only Dragaeran House one might buy their way into) so Vlad is a baronet in what is the Dragaeran version of the Mafia. As he grew up, he not only learned how to use multiple weapons, but learned Dragaeran sorcery as well as Eastern witchcraft (which work differently with differing strengths and weaknesses) and has gained an intelligent poisonous lizard (a Jhereg) as a familiar, married another assassin who previously tried to kill him, built up his own small organization within the House of Jhereg and somehow managed to make friends with some other highly placed Dragaerans of other houses.

If you start with this “first book” of the series it will seem that there is a heck of a lot of unexplained backstory going on and, in fact, there is. Jhereg, is actually the fourth book (I think) if you read the stories in chronological order. I’ve never been overly fond of prequels, myself, but they seem to be a thing. In general, I prefer to start at the beginning of a story and proceed onward – there’s less chance of continuity issues that way, but that’s a personal preference. If you plan your backstories carefully enough, you can avoid such problems.

Plot-wise, there is nothing incredibly outstanding about Jhereg, but the characters are interesting, fun and well-drawn. Each one is an individual and they work together well. I think it is the characters, and how they all interact is what makes this a fun story to read. Still, the story is a good one, with enough= plot twists and things gone wrong to keep the reader interested. Even better, while it has been a long time since I read it, it was still fun to listen to.

 

The Audiobook:

I have never listened to Bernard Setaro Clark before, so I went in without any preconceived notions of what I was going to hear. I was not disappointed. Mister Clark reads this book excellently. He delineates the characters as well as the author did and each one has a different sound. I’ll admit he does resort here and there to “funny voices” which regular readers of these reviews will recall I do not generally like, but in only one case did he go too far in one of his vocal depictions of the characters and that was with Vlad’s familiar, the Jhereg Loiosh. For some inexplicable reason, Clark chose to make Loiosh’s telepathic voice sound like and extreme version of Peter Lorry. Fortunately, this story is not told from Loiosh’s point of view – that would have been excruciating to listen to, but the wise-cracking, flying lizard only “speaks” occasionally, so it was bearable.

So, all told, it was a good story and a an equally good reading. I look forward to the next book in the series, if I can find it.

Posted in Adventure, Audio Books, Books, Fantasy, Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Audio-Book Review: Here, Kitty, Kitty!

The Steel of Raithskar

Book #1 of the Gandalara Cycle
By Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron
Published by Audible Studios
Read by Paul Boehmer

The Book:
I don’t know how I missed this series when it first came out. It was during a period I was practically haunting my local bookstores, in search of the latest bit of well-written SF or fantasy, Maybe, it was the cover art – I was starting to tire of anything that fell like it might be a medieval-based fantasy although this is closer to a 20th Century take on Burroughs’ John Carter series. That’s not really a perfect comparison. There a fair number of similarities, but they are superficial and the main character, Riccardo(n) does not have super powers, like the ability to jump higher and further than anyone else, he does have some experience with armed combat and has a connection of sorts to the man whose body he has taken over, but his problems are deeper and more complex; harder to resolve as well.
What he does have, that seems to make too convenient a difference is occasional access to the memories of the man whose body he suddenly found himself in (Markasset). He also inherits that man’s giant warrior cat, apparently the only sort of creature on this new world large enough to ride. Of course, step one is to convince the cat (Keesha) to accept him in place of his former partner (the cats are at least semi-sapient and telepathic and discerning enough to tell their bonded partner from the Earthling who displaced him. I thought Riccardo made friends with Keesha a little too rapidly. There probably should have been a few close calls before Keesha learned that Ricardo was a better partner than Markasset had been.
Another maybe too convenient bit of Deus ex machina especially when combined with the other lucky circumstances is that the local population believes that it is possible for ancient ancestors to reincarnate, at least temporarily, in the body of another so Markasset’s father has no trouble accepting and working with a man who has replaced his son.
However, the story is an entertaining one and once you get past these details that seem just a bit too easy, you find the real story which is a mystery plotted out in the true Garrett style. I have read some reviews by others who have speculated that while Randall Garrett may have plotted the story. It was written entirely by his wife, Vicki Ann Heydron. One reviewer called it something like a story plotted by a master story-teller but written by an amateur. I don’t think that is entirely fair to either Garrett or Heydron. The story is written in a lighter style than maybe similar ones are. It’s a style that fantasy and science fiction frequently had in the 1960’s, early 1970’s and before but now is far less common. I thought I detected certain linguistic stylistics from Garrett’s “Lord Darcy” series and other earlier stories.
Now it is true that by the time this story saw print, Mister Garrett had been hospitalized, but it’s possible he wrote parts of this first story and maybe even some of the next one or two. I suppose I shall see as I proceed through the series, but even if it was entirely written by Ms. Heydron, I still thought it was well-written and in a style I grew up with and still emulate in my own writing.

The Audiobook:
Paul Boehmer put in a good performance in this reading. Boehmer is one of the most reliable readers I have encountered since I started listening to audiobooks. He always puts in a good steady performance and differentiates the characters clearly without suing the silly “funny voices” some readers do. There are other readers I prefer, but I always enjoy a book read by Mister Boehmer. When I see his name associated with an audiobook, I know I’ll have no complaints with the performance.
So, the story might seem a bit simplistic to some, but I enjoyed it thoroughly as I also enjoyed Mister Boehmer’s performance.

Posted in Adventure, Audio Books, Books, Fantasy, Randall Garrett, Reviews, Science Fiction, SF | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Audio-Book Review: Oh Heck!

Retreat Hell

Book 8 of The Empire’s Corps

By Christopher G. Nuttall

Published by Podium Publishing

Read by Jeffrey Kafer

 

The Book:

The title alone gave this one away and I knew from the start this story would be a bit of a bummer – i.e. no happy ending. By the way this one is not to be confused with W.E.B. Griffon’s Retreat, Hell! Which is how I would have punctuated the title, but then I would not have written this particular story (N.B. Not a value judgement; I just do not write military fiction). I’m not sure if Mr. Nuttall used it this way so as not to be a direct steal from Griffon or if he meant “This is the Hell of Retreat.” I do have a few guesses, but I’ve already tossed out too many spoilers.

When I reviewed the so-called Book 7 of this series, Reality Check, I wondered if I had somehow missed some of the previous books of the series. It turns out I definitely had. Actually, I would not consider Reality Check a part of this series, but, rather a side story in the same future history. Its only connection to the main part of the series was the sudden appearance of a fleet from Wolfbane in the epilogue. However, I’ve noticed that whoever maintains booklists seems to like to assign numbers to related stories. A few of my own stories have been given numbers like 2.5, and 2.51 on such lists. I guarantee that I never numbered them so.

Anyway, I did a bit of research into The Empire’s Corps series and found I had missed several stories, so it is no wonder that I was a bit confused as to what was going on especially at the start of this book. However, I did manage to catch up.

First of all, if you are not into military-based fiction, whether SF, Fantasy or mainstream, you probably will not enjoy this story. If this is the sort of thing you like to read, I’m fairly certain you’ll enjoy the whole series. Technically, it’s not a bad story. It has all the elements it ought to have and a fairly good cast of characters. The dialogue is a bit clipped at times and a little stiff, but I’ve read a lot worse and some people really do talk that way. The narrative passages seemed a bit too much like a military or police report, but that was probably intentional as well. My only real complaint was that the author may have gone a bit too far out of his way to show all possible points of view. I did get confused at times as to whether I was supposed to be following the characters from the first book of the series and the newer marines that had been added since, the various civilian politicians, the captives/spies or the people of Wolfbane, the putative “Bad guys” of the series.

“Bad guys” would be too simplistic a label for Wolfbane. Our main characters are building a benevolent Commonwealth of Worlds, while the opposing worlds of Wolfbane are run by a more autocratic, totalitarian regime. Mister Nuttall goes out of his way, however to paint the Wolfbaners as still quite human, which, while fair enough, is probably not necessary. I did not need to read their points of view when the same point might have been made in a brief bit of dialogue between Colonel Stalker and… well, anyone else he may have been speaking to. Others will, no doubt disagree with me, but I did not need to know how the various people of Wolfbane thought and justified their own actions.

In all, there were too many points of view. When reading a book it’s usually easier to keep track of such complexities, but I was listening and already had a small bone to pick with the reader (below), so keeping track of all these different people was distracting.

Other than that, it’s not a bad story at all. Hopefully the next volume won’t be a side story like the last one was.

 

The Audiobook:

Jeffrey Kafer reads this story in a stiff and stern voice as though delivering a military of police report. There’s no happy news here and he certainly does nothing to alleviate the gloom. Now, I do not generally listen to military fiction, sop maybe that’s the appropriate way to read it aloud. It did seem appropriate, especially when military people have dialogue, but for me, at least, an occasional break in the mood would have been refreshing.

The problem is that even a hardened four-star general would have told someone giving a twelve hour-long report to take a break, have a sip of water and try to give a Readers’ Digest version of the story. This one just drones on and on. Now, admittedly the mood of the story doesn’t change either so it might not be the reader’s fault, but by the time the story was over I was willing to line both sides up against a random asteroid and enjoy some target practice.

So, did I enjoy the story? Not really, but it’s not my favorite sort of tale. I think it is fairly well-written and for fans of the military this will hit the spot. You may find Mister Kafer’s reading dead perfect as well.

Posted in Adventure, Audio Books, Books, Science Fiction, SF | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An Audio-Book Review: Insert One Token to Continue Playing

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline

Published by Random House Audio

Read by Wil Wheaton

(Note: Oops, nearly forgot to post this, so I’m a bit late, but better late that not at all, I guess.)

The Book:

I’ll admit it. I saw the movie first and did not realized it was an adaptation of a novel. I should have, though. Nearly everything these days is either an adaptation, a remake or thinly veiled rip-off of another more successful film. There are times I wish Hollywood would stop adapting novels, but only because it might be nice to see more original stories in the theaters. That’s neither here nor there, just an example of how quickly and easily I can go off on a tangent.

There are some differences between the movie and the novel. That’s normal. Movies, when you boil them down are best when adapting short stories and novelettes. They can handle that sort of story without having to cut out a thousand details that appear in any well-written novel. Naturally, however, movies tend to adapt novels so cuts must be made. In this case, whole situations got cut. Both versions of Wade are poor, but in the movie, he can still go anywhere he wants in the OASIS. In the novel he is initially stuck on the first world, Incipio (unless he can hitch a lift elsewhere) because while access to the OASIS is free, transport to the other worlds there is not, and then he is stuck on the world his OASIS-sponsored school is on (Ludus). Fortunately, the first key is hidden on that world, so game on!  No further spoilers, except I will admit it has nothing to do with racing backwards. Frankly, I found the “battle” for the first (Copper) key a more believable challenge, but it would not have been as exciting in a movie situation, unless you’re about my age and actually remember the 1980’s games involved.

I did note a few inaccuracies, such as all games being based on the quarter (the American quarter dollar coin, I assume). This was the traditional fee, especially in the old pinball machines and in arcade games you might find by themselves in a restaurant or supermarket, but many arcades switched over to using tokens very early on. I think there are some that use both, but tokens were in common use at least as much as quarters were in the 1980’s which everything in this book refers to. Perhaps Halliday was a purist who preferred the use of quarters, but I still think tokens probably should have at least been mentioned. There’s room for that in a book even if not in a movie.

The book is a much better story than the movie, by the way, and makes a better argument for why culture seems to be stuck in 1980’s retro-fashions. Simply put, it’s not. Only the “Gunters,” those trying to find Halliday’s Easter Egg and win the big contest, are paying much attention to the trivia of the 1980’s. Oh there’s a few hints that such 1980’s nostalgia has been fashionable off and on because of the hunt, but it becomes clear that while all the active characters are Gunters, they are a small minority of the people on Earth.

I did not, until now, however realize how dependent this scenario is on the preservation of digital data. It seems as though everything ever recorded is used in the book in some way or other, but I wonder how many of those recordings of ancient TV shows and the code of old video games will have survived the major upheaval the future world has gone through. A lot of those things are still really only available on DVD (or in some cases laser disc or VHS tapes (Don’t get me started on BetaMax) and all those media have a limited shelf life. It’s possible that the backup strategies by then will have become fool-proof but as an IT pro, I see far too many cases where backup strategies have failed. That might have made for an interesting hitch in the story, but maybe nothing will have been lost by then.

The story is a long one and the challenges facing the Gunters are more difficult than those in the movies. Take that silly race for the first key in the movie; would it really take years for someone to try driving backwards? I doubt it. In fact, I think after a few runs someone would have tried it just for the sake of doing something different or even just to be silly. No, in the book the challenges are all based on video games. You can’t drive backwards in a video racing game (or couldn’t back in the 1980’s) and many non-racing games continually progressed to the right of the screen with no going back (side-screen scrollers).

Well, I think it is obvious by now that I am finding fault in the movie than in the book. The book is fairly long stretched out story but a fairly engaging one and it held my interest even when I found myself groaning over the author’s choice of video game to use. So, yes, well played!

 

The Audiobook:

I have listened to two other books read by Wil Wheaton and did not like his reading at all. I was prepared to write another bad review about his too-fast reading speed and lack of ability to differentiate character voices, but this time he found a book he was ideally suited to read and read it well. The story is entirely told in the first person (Wade Watts aka Parzival) so he really only needed to use one voice. Even when someone else is speaking it comes to us via the first-person narrator so the fact they all sound alike works and It appears that Wil Weato9n is excellent at sounding like a videogame nerd/geek. The fast rate of speech is perfect for Wade’s enthusiasm, so well done, Mister Wheaton. My only complaint was that he sounded entirely too smug when he got to the point at which he was re-elected (along with Cory Doctorow) to be in charge of the OASIS government, such as it was. Actually, I doubt I would have voted for either of them, but it’s just a story. Still I couldn’t be sure that bit was not tossed in to convince Wil Wheaton to read the book.

So, all told, a long, but interesting story and was read quite appropriately by Wil Wheaton.

Posted in Adventure, Audio Books, Books, Games, Science Fiction, SF | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An Audio-Book Review: What Am I This Week?

A Miracle of Rare Design:
A Tragedy of Transcendence

By Mike Resnick

Published by Audible Frontiers

Read by Adam Verner

 

The Book:

I do not recall reviewing one of Mike Resnick’s books before, but I have read a lot of them and A Miracle of Rare Design is yet another in the long series set in Resnick’s future history. In fact it is Book #21 in his “Birthright“ series which includes the various “Tales of the Velvet Comet,” “Tales of the Galactic Midway,” “Legends of Santiago,” his “Starship” series, several novels that are thinly veiled versions of the histories of various African nations and a bunch more.

I’ve found that many of Resnick’s books are episodic, reading more like several novelettes and short stories stitched together until long enough to publish, although usually with a central theme that keeps it all cohesively built. This one is pretty much the same. Xavier William Lennox is a human writer known for intentionally placing himself in danger in order to write books about the natives of other worlds. He finally goes too far and intentionally goes into a sacred area and in retribution the people of that world maim him, blind him and leave him for dead. He is rescued just in time, but it is a near thing, his recovery is slow and he is left blind and without fingers and… (I forget what else is missing, but he is a mess).

In steps a member of one of the many governmental departments who hires him to go back to that world, only this time he will be transformed by radical surgery into one of the natives. Genetically, I imagine he is still human, but his metabolism, senses, abilities and even tastes and ability to digest foods are completely like those of the natives. This, by itself, I thought, was the grist for a long novel, especially since one of the great mysteries, seen by Lennox before he was caught, involved the voluntary suicide by some of the natives, who jumped off the top of a tall pyramid. The natives have vestigial wings, but they are not large or fast enough to fly and those who jump off that holy place invariable die on impact. He is mystified as to why anyone would do such a thing… Apparently, he has never heard of religious hysteria, although that explanation is never offered in the story.

Now, in the form of one of the natives, he is accepted among them although the shaman instantly sees through the surgical disguise, which he sees as a holy transformation. Lennox’s main mission is to set up trade between the natives and the colonial humans. Once that is done, Lennox remains for a time, still trying to understand the great mystery of the Pyramid, but eventual is convinced that as a human he could never understand.

Following that he is transformed again and again for various other missions and eventually chooses how he will spend the remainder of his life.  It was an entertaining story, but I kept waiting for Lennox to have an epiphany and come to understand why those first aliens were pyramid jumping. That never happens and for that reason I was dissatisfied with the story as a whole. So much was made of this mystery on the first world we see Lennox on that we are invested in finding the answer with him only to have it turn out to be of no value to the story. The thing is, Lennox did not have to have the correct answer. He could even have had several answers all of which made sense to him at various times but not later, but no. The answer was that you had to be one of those people to truly understand. That might be true in real life, but makes for a flawed story. Too bad, really, because it was a nice story otherwise.

 

The Audiobook:

Adam Verner reads this story well. Not too fast, not too slow. He varies his voice a bit for the different characters but not enough to be annoying, although I found Lennox’s voice to be a on the edge of annoying, but not quite over that edge. It was not a fantastic reading, but it was a good solid reading that, at times, I think we could use more of.

So, it’s an okay book that many readers ought to enjoy so long as they don’t mind being told (with the subtlety of a sledge hammer) there are some things they are not meant to know and the reading of is pretty good too.

Posted in Audio Books, Books, Mike Resnick, Science Fiction, SF | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Audio-Book Review: Yum!

A Morbid Taste for Bones

The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael – Book 1

By Ellis Peters
Published by Recorded Books
Read by Patrick Tull

 

The Book:

I have not actually watched any of the Brother Cadfael Mysteries on PBS but understood they were mysteries written in a Medieval setting and thought this might be a nice break from all the fantasies (possibly including the political tell-alls) I’ve been listening to lately. I was right.

I have to admit that for nearly half of the book I thought the only mystery was going to be whether or not the brothers of Cadfael’s monastery would manage to acquire a saint to move in with them (only the best abbeys have a resident saint, after all) and there are a lot of arguments made over why Saint Winifred (the Woebegone???) should be the one once they found her. On the whole the Prior of the abbey has a hard time trying to convince the local to let her go. The arguments against the monks having her are along the lines of, ‘Well, we’re Welsh. Sure, we pay her no really attention and let her grave go untended, but we’re Welsh. She knows us and what we are like and she knows we depend on her when we need to… We’re Welsh.” And so on. Really. I’m not making that up it all boiled down to the fact that the locals were Welsh and the monks (save for Cadfael it seems) were English. Admittedly, that’s a fairly believable reason right there, but the Prior wanted his saint and since, by definition, saints are always in short supply, it had to be poor Winnie. So, for almost half the book we are feasted on reasons why and how a saint could be translated (if that’s the right term) from one locale to another and forced to get through the long and unsuccessful negotiations for her until finally someone other than Winifred dies.

Am I taking this a little too lightly? Maybe a bit, but there are so many parallels between what happens in the first section of the book and the politics on our modern world that I decided not to dwell on those. Finally, however the local lord (the one who refuses to give up the bones of Saint Winifred) is killed under mysterious circumstances and the real mystery for Brother Cadfael begins.

Why Cadfael? Because unlike most of his fellows, He has not been a monk all his adult life. For him the monastery is a form of retirement. In his younger days he was a crusader, a womanizer, and so forth. In other words, he was a typical man, especially a man of his time, so while these days he may be more concerned with his herb garden, in this circumstance he is the only one with the life experience to solve the crime. It was not your standard sort of gumshoe detective sort of fair and I thought he did less investigating than I might have expected. It was more like, he just happened to be on hand as everything happened and thus turned out to be the one in the know.

I found the story interesting even if it did move fairly slowly until very near the end and if much of the action leading up to it was predictable, the ending was not and, in fact, I found it somewhat amusing. So, all told it was a satisfying read and a very nice change of pace.

 

The Audiobook:

Patrick Tull’s accents are not hard to understand but it did take me a chapter or two to get used to them. Actually, on having listened to it all, I doubt I would have enjoyed this as much if read in a standard Mid-western American accent. Mister Tull did an excellent job in subtly differentiating the characters and their voices and none had particularly funny-sounding ones so while it might have taken a bit for my ear to acclimate, I never cringed along the way.

So, all told, it was a good story read by a good narrator. I look forward to the next volume in the series.

Posted in Audio Books, Books, Ellis Peters, Mystery | Tagged , , | Leave a comment