Thursday, August 30, 2012

Audiobook Review: Changling

Changling (Order of Darkness, 1) by Philippa Gregory, read by Charlie Cox, May 24, 2012. 6 Discs (6.7 hours). Published by Simon and Schuster. Source: Publisher.
Romance, mystery, and intrigue populate the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.The year is 1492. Eighteen-year-old Luca De Vere is brilliant, gorgeous—and a heretic. Cast out of his religious order for using scientific knowledge to prove that a divine revelation was faked, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, headed by none other than Pope Nicholas V, investigates strange occurrences across Europe, and Luca is now part of the Order.     Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl who’s been shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her deceased father’s estate. Because of mysterious happenings at the nunnery, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her.     Despite the conventions of their time, an attraction grows between Luca and Isolde, and, traveling across Europe, they encounter alchemists, poisoners, inquisitors, and purported witches as they head toward a real-life historical figure who may hold the power of the Order of the Dragon.     The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is firmly rooted in historical fact, and Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—to life.
First Sentence:
The hammering on the door shot him into wakefulness like a handgun going off in his face.

Story
While I was excited about being given the opportunity to listen to Changling, I was extremely nervous about  delving into a book by Philippa Gregory after my sister said her adult novels were a little...graphic. But I found her first foray in to the world of YA to be very much addictive and impossible to turn off.

My first Philippa Gregory read was a total success and her writing and world building has me excited to see where the series will head in the next volume. What I really liked about Ms Gregory's writing would have to be that she did her research into the time period and then went and gave it twist that pulled me in. Even though I do not like the way women were viewed more as property in the 1400s, I liked that the author stuck with the truth while still managing to make the book entirely her own.

Luka, while he was the main narrator in Changling, I found it hard to describe him. It just felt like his character was not fully developed and that his story has yet to be fully revealed. Even though he came across kind of vague, I liked that he looked beyond the surface of the problem and did his best to ascertain that the guilty did not get away with their crimes and that the innocent were not punished unjustly.
Isolde, I could not help but feel sorry for since she lost everything that she loved and knew in a matter of days. While I did feel bad for her, I think that maybe she was blinded by love and commitment to question whether or not her after was truly what her father planned for her. I'm hoping that int he next book we will see an Isolde who will be stronger after dealing with the trails she went through int he first book.
Ishraq, was actually my favorite character. I liked her quite intensity and how she would not abandon Isolde to her fate at the Abbey.

So, what made Changling such a great 'read' for me, well, that would have to be the concept. I thought it was fantastic that it was set in the 1400s when the Crusades and fight for Christendom was still fresh and the way that Ms Gregory blended in a fantasy/supernatural aspect to the world was just done so well. I also liked the fact that she kept things pretty relatively correct when you at the historical portion of the book and what life would have be like for different characters.

While I found Changling to be a truly great book, there is just one aspect that minimizes my love of this book (just a little annoyance). At times, it felt like the story dragged and that the progression from when I figured out plot points to when the characters figured out what was what was, well, a little sluggish. Don't get me wrong, this is a great read, but either I sniffed out the truth a little early in the game or the characters were a little slow on the up take.

Narration

Having never listened to either the reader, Charlie Cox, or any of Philippa Gregory's work I was unsure going in, especially since I seem to have bad luck when it comes to male narrators in audiobooks (there are few I like). But it seems I worried for naught because Mr Cox did one fantastic job narrating Changling. He even did a pretty decent job when it came to voicing the female characters in the book.

What really makes Mr Cox's narration of Changling so good would have to be how he excellently portrayed the various characters in the book, from the inquisitive Luka to even Ishraq the Moorish companion of Isolde. This is one of the times were the reader just hits the nail on the head and pulls you right on into the world and lives of the characters.
I listened to Changling pretty much non-stop yesterday because the plot and characters mixed with the narration was just so good that I did not want to quit until I had listened to every last second of the book.

The only thing I did not like about Changling, as an audiobook, would have to be that that the tracks were so long. I hate leaving off in the middle of a track, but sometimes it cannot be helped especially when the tracks can be as long as thirty minutes.

Final Verdict: A great pairing of excellent writing and narration.

Changling earns 5 out of 5 pineapples.

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