“It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow city streets because it is grieved by what it finds there. On the day of the Purge it whistled amongst the swaying masts in the Marina, rushed through the Western Gates and screamed between the buildings. Then, as if appalled by the ragged souls it met there, it quietened to a whimper.
Or so it seemed to Sonea.”
The Magician’s Guild is the first book in one of my all-time favourite series, the Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan. I’ve not reviewed the series on my blog, or the other two of my favourite series (Books of Pellinor and Chaos Walking, if you were wondering) because I don’t think a good review is written by me smashing my keyboard in a fit of wild enthusiasm as I tell you all how you must read them because they are the bestest books in the whole wide world, etc etc.
But I digress.
I was recently directed to Audible by the wonderful @hatteatime . I’m always after audiobooks, as I get travelsick reading in the car, and Audible seemed to fit the bill. For me, audiobooks should be familiar, comfort reads. My current library of audiobooks consists of Pride and Prejudice and The Fault in our Stars (as well as copious amounts of Shakespeare), for example. Therefore, The Magician’s Guild was an easy choice for my free first audiobook.
This abridged version is read by Kellie Bright, whose voice warmed on me very swiftly from the beginning of the tape. She has a soft and clear reading voice, which means you can get on with imagining the streets of Imardin, the slums, and the Guild. The way she plays with voices for different characters works well, with Sonea’s friends in the slums voiced with a cockney accent, rather than the sweeping gradiose tone of the Magicians. Fergun’s voicing especially makes my skin crawl – a real’ Bad Guy’ voice!
I did think that by choosing the abridged version, I would be losing out some of the detail from a book I really love. There were a few odd cuts, which didn’t sit well, but as this originated as CDs, I imagine this can be explained as the end of a disc. I didn’t, overall, lose any detail that I remember particularly from the book, although it has been a few years since I’ve read it. This meant I could sit back and enjoy the story, rather than being jerked out of the world by cuts I was extremely aware of.
There were also rather randomly arranged musical interludes, which don’t sit so well with my CDs theory, and which was considerably louder than the reading volume which made it a little uncomfortable to the ear. I like to stick to a volume and not be forced to chop and change when I settle in for an audiobook, and what was suitably good music regarding the tone of the story was too loud.
The thing I love about audiobooks is the visual aspect and I think this audiobook does great service to Canavan’s descriptive skills. In many respects I found the audiobook visualised parts of the book for me that I had previously skimmed over, such as when Sonea and Cery are scrambling across rooftops, or when Rothen and Dannyl find her in the slums. I also felt like it gave me time to dwell more extensively on the different threads of the story, and it reminded me of characters I particularly love, and their relationships with other characters. Cery’s character springs to mind, as does Rothen’s and Dannyl’s relationship. The latter two’s cheerfulness and especially Dannyl’s sarcasm really appealed when I very first read the book, and the tone with which Bright delivers Dannyl’s character is particularly enjoyable.
The only quibble I would have with the reading of this audiobook is that, while it is beneficial to have such a range of voices for characters, some voices did slip. This happened especially in Cery/Fergun scenes, where the swing from cockney to villain was sometimes a little tricky. And Akkarin’s voice, which is intended to sound grand, came off as a little unnecessarily ghost-like. It was also very hard to audibly distinguish between actual speech and mind communication, as designated in italics in the hard copy, but that is something that cannot be helped. It didn’t impede my listening of the book, certainly.
Overall, a good first choice for an Audible audiobook! One I will be listening to again.