Review of Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

Fantasy Audiobooks - Nine Princes in Amber by Roger ZelaznyNine Princes in Amber
By Roger Zelazny; Read by the author
4 Cassettes – 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Sunset Productions
Published: 1998
ISBN: 759433069046
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / Parallel Worlds / Immortality /

At the beginning of this book, Corwin, an immortal prince of Amber, wakes up in a hospital bed without his memory. He slowly figures things out – who he is, where he is, and most interesting, who’s on his side and who isn’t. As he goes through this process, so does the listener, discovering the world through Corwin’s eyes.

But Corwin is not just human. He’s a member of the royal family of Amber, which is the only true world there is. All other worlds in the universe, including the one in which you and I sit, are but shadows of Amber. One gets to Amber only if one remembers exactly what Amber looks like, and if one has the power to subtly change the environment until it matches the one true world.

The royal family of Amber is dysfunctional, to say the least. Corwin has many brothers, among them Eric, Random, Bleys, and Caine. They all want the throne, and some are willing to kill for it. As Corwin becomes more aware, he too faces that decision – how far is he willing to go to gain the throne himself?

Roger Zelazny narrates this unabridged novel. He has a deep voice that I’ve heard compared to Bogart’s – takes a little getting used to, but the result is personal and satisfying.

The novel is wonderful – vintage Zelazny. I was delighted when I first found this (and the other four Amber novels) on unabridged audio. It was published by Sunset Productions in both unabridged and abridged formats. The abridged version is “enhanced” with sound effects, and features changes to Zelazny’s voice to indicate that the narrator is in a library or underwater, etc… that version is an example of an audiobook that has been overwhelmed with sound effects at the cost of the material. I much prefer this unabridged version, not only because it’s unabridged, but also because it is Zelazny’s reading without distortion.

Americana Publishing now owns the rights to the Sunset Productions, and has re-released the Amber novels, unfortunately only in the abridged format.

Review of Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

SFFaudio Review

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three by Stephen KingThe Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
By Stephen King; Read by Frank Muller
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks [UNABRIDGED]
Date Published: November 1997
ISBN: 0140867155
Themes: / Fantasy / Parallel worlds /

This is the second book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I read the first volume a few months ago (in print) and found it very different from Stephen King’s other work. To start with, it was not set in our world, where King sets nearly all of his novels. This volume is set both in the wasteland of the first novel and this world. King expertly uses the setting along with his unforgettable characters to explore the notions of Good and Evil in a grand fashion.

The main character in the books is Roland, a gunslinger, possibly the last gunslinger, who travels in a world separate but somehow connected to our own. This second volume starts within hours after the first ends. Roland is required to draw three people from our world into his to help him on his quest to reach the Dark Tower. If none of this makes sense, that’s okay. I’m hesitant to provide too much detail. It is enough to say that what you have here is a contemporary fantasy novel written by one of the finest creators of believable characters in fiction.

And Frank Muller does the narrating. I’ve never been disappointed in a Muller narration, and this certainly is no exception. His voice is perfect for this material – I imagine Roland’s voice to be Muller’s – and the great energy which he provides this novel probably made it more interesting than it actually was. Several times when listening time came to and end, I took an extra lap around the block or listened for an extra ten minutes… and Muller’s reading is as responsible for that as King’s writing.

I am definitely a Stephen King fan. I enjoy nearly all of his stories. My favorites are from his early career, The Stand and Salem’s Lot especially. Neither of those have audio versions, unfortunately. (Well, there is a version of The Stand available from Books on Tape, but it is not the complete version of the novel that King released later in his career.)

For more info on the Dark Tower series, check the Dark Tower Compendium.