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…But not entirely what we have always thought!
Shakespearean purists may object, but, as the authors point out in the epilogue, Shakespeare himself wasn't a purist. He borrowed and changed and molded stories to the stage.
And it's a good story! This novelization, without the familiar speeches, proves that the basic tale still holds attention and gives the authors a great opportunity for expanding characters and plot features.
I'll admit I bought this primarily to hear the wonderful voice of Richard Armitage, and he certainly does not disappoint. As with all excellent narrations, the listener quickly forgets she/he is experiencing the voice of one person, and we are drawn into the action and the characters effortlessly.
I love this take on the old story. There's depth of emotion here, and the characters and actions make sense in a new way. Anyone who's enjoyed Tom Stoppard's "Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead" should appreciate the twists and turns in this version as well.
As a wonderful bonus for those of us who have longed for deeper and better-realized female characters in Shakespeare's plays (tho we know we've had no right to expect it), Hartley and Hewson endow the women of Elsinor with brains and sensible motives and actions.
It's refreshing and different and beautifully read.
56 of 60 people found this review helpful
ALL MEN ARE CRUEL
The other reviewers have compared this to the play. For that reason let me go a different route. If you are a fan of Fantasy Epics, George RR, or the game of Kings and Queens, Princes and castles, this is a novel for you. I will not say this is as good as Fire and Ice, but it is full of men with GRISLED BEARDS, royal murder, back stabbing, and all the intrigue of castle life. The Castle itself has it's own personality. I TAKE WHAT I WANT WHEN I WANT. Their are spies: IF YOU COULD TELL SPIES FROM THE WAY THEY LOOKED, THEY WOULD NOT BE SPIES. There are even pirates. IT'S ALWAYS THE WOMAN WHEN THERE'S BLAME TO BE APPORTIONED.
THERE WILL BE A TOMORROW AND A TOMORROW AFTER THAT
My favorite character is Yorick, who is a dwarf fool. Like usual the fool is most likely the smartest one in the castle and he has the sharp wit and mouth of a fool. The twist at the end, involving Yorick, which you will mostly likely guess half way through is also satisfying. Above all it is a tragedy.
AND NOW THE REST IS SILENCE
Richard Armitage is an excellent actor and narrator who brings class to this novel.
SOME WOUNDS HEAL SLOWLY
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
Where does Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
It ties for first place with one other. See below.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Claudius: although Shakespeare does not portray him as a complete villain, this Claudius drew my sympathies. Both the authors and Armitage's interpretation reveal him as a decent man, one who has always loved Gertrude and Hamlet, but who has painted himself, through one violent act, into a corner and can only escape through more violence. Armitage gives him a deep, sensuous, authoritative voice - kindly even. The reader has to walk a fine line with his voicing because I felt that you had to understand Claudius and yet side with Hamlet in the end.
Have you listened to any of Richard Armitage’s other performances? How does this one compare?
Richard Armitage is my favourite reader and seems to choose books by my favourite authors. The Georgette Heyer books are great fun and very entertainingly read and voiced. But Bernard Cornwell's Lords of the North is wonderful. This Hamlet book ties with Lords of the North, but sadly it is not available on Audible or anywhere now except ebay since AudioGo went bust. Come on, Audible! Wake up to this man's talent and buy the rights to this version!
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Love and politics - a murderous combination.
Any additional comments?
I was very impressed by how close the authors kept to the original play, making many nods to Shakespeare's language and text, yet at the same time filled the gaps with imaginative and gripping scenarios....Like the pirates. Pirates! What pirates? Yes, an episode only lightly touched on by Shakespeare, but it's there, LOL! And the authors not only develop some exciting moments out of it but weave it into the following action of the book. Loved the pirate captain!But, without the reader and his wonderful interpretations where every single voice is a different one, this audiobook would be a lesser thing than it has turned out to be,
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel the most enjoyable?
The pace of the story, the new, unexpected twists to the plot and characteristion along with the unexpected and haunting persona of Yorick; the splendid narration.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Claudius, the traditional villian, who here reveals a depth as lover and "father" never imagined before.
What does Richard Armitage bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
His narration and masterly interpretation of the characters both male and female, bring the story and its people to life. Modulated and varied, his voice carries the listening on in a flow of enjoyment.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Like with the original Shakespearean play, the novel aroused both mirth and sadness, sometimes mingled in bittersweet fashion. A gentle sadness tended to prevail, without actually provoking tears.
Any additional comments?
The final comments by the two authors were an appropriate complement to the work and the music a lovely unexpected finale.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Like most I know this story well. This novel version was really enjoyable (if a tragedy can be thus). The narration was apt, with consistent accents and you could almost see the oily nature of Polonius and Voldermere while Yorick was the comic relief. Thoroughly enjoyable.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was an amazing retelling of the classic play. AJ Hartley and David Hewson make Hamlet fresh again and the use of characters like Yorick add another level to an already complex play. Which I absolutely loved. Richard Armitage did a fantastic job narrating this book. He is able to manipulate his voice in such a way that as a listener you can automatically tell which character is currently speaking. This is not a simple thing for an actor to do and I applaud Mr Armitage for his mastery and talent.