Author: Martha Wells –
Publisher: Blackstone Audio –
Genre: Fantasy –
Overall rating: 5/5 –
Writing: 5/5 –
Duration: 17:56 (The Wizard Hunters), 19:37 (The Ships of Air), 19:05 (The Gate of Gods) (long)
Narrator: Talmadge Ragan –
Narrator/performance: 4/5 –
Impressions: 4/5 –
Performance errors: 2/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 3/5 –
The Fall of Ile-Rien part of the saga consists of three books: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods. This review refers to the narration performed by Talmadge Ragan. Interpretation provided by the actress has a particular quality. It is unusual in several ways but it turned out more suitable for the Ile-Rien universum than some other available interpretations. The reading is fresh and exciting, allowing the listener to speculate where the narrator is also enjoying the story. The performer’s commitment made this production particularly satisfying. I hope Talmadge will appear more often in complex productions.
Martha Wells is certainly a very skillful writer. She is able to carry out long and complicated stories as if she was really concerned with something grander and more important than mere speculative fiction. Even so, her stories tend to be clear, entertaining and colorful. This trilogy captivates the reader early on, introducing an odd young woman planning her suicide in a huge empty house in a world of wizards, while two fearless wizard hunters fight every moving object in a world of small, modest gods. The story contains elements of typical fantasy aesthetic but there are also experimental forms drawing from culture (possibly Ancient Greece?) and industrial era technology (think Titanic). There is mystery, politics, spying and family drama. I found it to be perfect entertainment for the long hours of winter.
It appears to be a theme among audiobooks to produce two underwhelming covers for the first two parts and surprise everyone with an elegant cover in the last part. The first cover is so bizarre it is hard to make out what it is actually showing. This cheap artwork almost convinced me that the entire series is not worth listening to (fortunately, I really needed to find out what kind of mischief Tremaine was up to). The second cover is easier to interpret, although it appears unnecessarily chaotic and colorful. The third cover is finally made in a style more appropriate for the quality writing and performance of this audiobook series.
Cover Photo by Alex Person on Unsplash