Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Warbreaker: How audio book readers can ruin a good story

I'm currently reading three different books at once. When you're me, this happens. I started Path of Daggers, by Robert Jordan first, but we only have the pristine first printing of the first edition copy, which, needless to say, can't exactly be stuffed in my purse to read on the bus or during lunch. So I started reading Anna Karenina, which I am surprisingly enjoying and am quite far into by now. On vacation, we started listening to Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson (he's finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series with Jordan's notes).

I like Brandon Sanderson. His writing is a little overly explanatory and his language often strays into overly formal or absurdly casual, but he tells a good, creative, interesting story and he writes strong, well-developed characters whose good/evil factor is always somewhere in the gray zone. His Mistborn trilogy was phenomenal, and if you even think you might like fantasy, you should read those books. I was excited when Warbreaker came out, but like many bibliophiles, I was already reading four other books and haven't gotten to it until now.

And let me say, the audio book sucks. I'm so disappointed in it. The reader is supposed to be this uber-talented actor-type, so I was looking forward to it, but the reader pauses in the wrong (and distracting) places, reads some characters with a stereotypical dumb surfer voice (no, they're not surfers), puts question marks into sentences where there is only a comma, and drones when he reads Sanderson's frequent explanations of what's going on and how things work. When I picked up the actual book yesterday, I got sucked right in; it's just as good as his other writing.

Brandon, please find another reader to do your audio books!

*As an aside, the readers who did the entire Wheel of Time series, Kate Reading and Michael Kremer, are spectacular, and their interpretation of the inflections, tones, and accents only benefited the story.


  1. I'm also a fan of Brandon Sanderson and I'm surprised to hear that that narrator for Warbreaker did a poor job. I only recently begun listening to audio books and it can be such a wonderful experience when you have a good narrator.

  2. Audio books can be wonderful! I've been listening to them since last year, when I found out our library has them, and I haven't listened to one I was so dissatisfied with. If you have the time, I'd definitely recommend reading this one instead of listening to it.