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This book isn't quite what I normally look for in an audiobook (I generally do intense SciFi/ Fantasy), but ended up being one I loved. I quickly found myself drawn into the story, and it was enjoyable and satisfying, without being overly predictable. I hesitate to say more about the plot - the author's description says enough, and trying to say more would quickly stray into spoilers.
For me, there are two things that make this a great book:
1. Its great story with a quality balance in writing.
2. Its amazing voice acting.
For the former, there are a lot of difficult balances which need to be found for this topic:
- Realistic in the brutality of gladiatorial combat, without being gratuitously violent.
- Honest about interpersonal and romantic engagements, without unnecessary explicit sexual content.
- A coherent plot with allusion that rewards the listener for paying attention, without being overly predictable.
- Detail sufficient to bring the listener into the atmosphere of the events, without it causing the plot to drag.
As a listener to books across the spectrum, I have found too often that religious literature sacrifices realism to avoid violence and sexuality, but this author finds a perfectly appropriate balance. To the other extreme, many secular writers overemphasize these. The ability to give realism without excess is a rare and noteworthy exception for religious fiction. Furthermore, many use such strong allusion to religious themes that the entire story arc can be guessed by page 3, yet this author allows for strong religious themes, without allowing them to make the book too predictable.
About the voice acting, I actually found this the strongest point. As an avid audible listener I have listened to countless voice actors. I find Ramon de Ocampo to have the best ability to voice a cast of diverse characters. This narrator, Joseph Narducci, is the only narrator I have heard who can compare with Ocampo in quality of narration. If you love a book read from a single voice, this may not be for you, but if you enjoy the specific voices in helping bring a book to life there are very few who can do it better.
Overall, I found this to be a good story presented with phenomenal narration, and thus I highly recommend it (without reservation) as a great audible listen.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Chasing the Lion in three words, what would they be?
Gladiator Love Story
What was one of the most memorable moments of Chasing the Lion?
There are so many. I'm not a fan of spoilers, so I'll go with an early one. The scene with Jonathan and the lion (how the book got the title "Chasing the Lion") is pretty epic.
What about Joseph Narducci’s performance did you like?
Not only did Joseph Narducci nail Jonathan's voice, he aged him. Also, every other character is distinct and well-executed. There's extreme talent for one person to make Caius sound sinister and Nessa sweet.
If you could rename Chasing the Lion, what would you call it?
I'm a fan of short titles (one word, if possible) "Devotio" - In Roman history, it's the act of a general sacrificing himself for victory. While the origins are tied to Roman mythology, it's the origin of the English word "devotion". There are aspects to Jonathan's character and story that make this a fitting title.
Any additional comments?
I am a huge audio book fan. Jim Dale, the narrator of Harry Potter and The Night Circus among others is who I consider to be the gold-standard for audio book fans. Voice talent makes or breaks the audio version of a book.
Joseph Narducci is another one of those narrators. I will seek books he narrates because I know it will be an excellent production.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful