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I LOVE this book. It's a great stand-alone fantasy title, and it doesn't matter whether you've read any other books it the series or even if you know what Forgotten Realms is, there's a lot to enjoy. The plot has enough curves to keep me wondering how it's going to work out, and I'm a huge fan of the number of really strong female characters in the book. I think this may be my favorite Bruce Cordell novel.
But, sadly, the reader is ruining it for me. This guy just can't do voices, and shouldn't even try. With the exception of the dwarf (who, to give the reader credit, I think he nails), every other character, male or female, sounds exactly the same: like a crotchety old woman. It's driving me crazy. And why can't he pronounce the names of people and places the same way every time? There's a pronunciation guide in the back of the book, for crying out loud, you'd think he could figure out whether the place is "DUR-per," "DUR-PAR," or "dur-PAR" (the last one is correct, although you'd never be able to guess from listening). One of the main characters' names is Iahn, pronounced "Ian" --- not "Yan." OK, I could live with hearing the reader say "Celestial NAY-DEER" a hundred times (isn't it "nay-DEER"?), and even with "Yan," but I'm having a really hard time with everybody sounding like an old lady who needs a nap.
Please, do us all a favor, and don't ask this reader to do anything else involving dialogue.