What’s Your Favorite Audiobook? (also: The Shadow of Gods)

For our recent 30-hour roundtrip road trip to Virginia, I decided to get a trial subscription to Audible. In the past, I’ve listened to podcasts while driving, but I now listen to podcasts while working out every day, so I was all caught up.

The book I selected was the acclaimed fantasy novel The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne, which I pitched to Megan by saying, “It’s a novel about dragons!”

As it turns out, despite the cover, The Shadow of the Gods is decidedly NOT about dragons. It’s a very good, intense book set in a fantasy Viking world, and I quite enjoyed it. But the cover is 99.99% misleading, and I’m baffled by the publisher’s choice to use this illustration for the book.

That said, if you like Vikings, fantasy, magic, and refreshingly detailed descriptions of combat training (I’ve never read such descriptive sections about how to use a shield or how to defeat an enemy wearing armor), I highly recommend The Shadow of the Gods.

Part of my enjoyment of the book was thanks to the narration by Colin Mace, which made me want to ask you: Have you ever “read” an audio book that was enhanced by the narrator? If so, which book or narrator?

10 thoughts on “What’s Your Favorite Audiobook? (also: The Shadow of Gods)”

  1. I haven’t listened to it yet, but after reading all of Joe Abercrombie’s Circle of the World books this year (and now eagerly awaiting the final book in the current trilogy to release next week) I really want to listen to the audiobook of them as I’ve heard the narration by Steven Pacey is supposed to be incredible.

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  2. My fiction “books” are almost exclusively audio books. I am a very slow reader, so I prefer it that way. The Lee Child and Stephen King books have a good performer. But if you want a good audio book experience, I would recommend the Stephen Fry readings of the Harry Potter series. It is absolutely a story that should be heard with an English accent.

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    • Agreed the Stephen King readers usually have good readers!

      Frank Muller is probably my favorite narrator of Stephen King novels. Santino Fontana and Will Patton are among my favorites as well.

      I 100% affirm that audiobooks are made wonderful by the narrator/actor that brings the story to life!

      For this reason, I absolutely LOVE when the author is the one to narrate. Not all of them are great at it, but even when it’s not top-tier acting, I have the utmost confidence that the vocal intonations are accurate since they have the most insight into the character’s innermost feelings and thoughts!

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  3. My favorite audiobook is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

    You have to be a little careful because there are multiple audiobook editions. You want the 12+ hour edition.

    The book (that is nothing like the movie) is an oral history that is recorded by the U.N. ten years after zombies appear in the world. The stories are told chronically and from all over the world. The personal stories and geopolitics are so good.

    Look for the edition that has an all-star cast narrating the stories. That is the one you want to make sure to get. Among them: Alan Alda, René Auberjonois, Bruce Boxleitner, Max Brooks, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Parminder Nagra, Ajay Naidu, Masi Oka, Simon Pegg, Jürgen Prochnow, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jeri Ryan, Martin Scorsese, Paul Sorvino, David Ogden Stiers, Ric Young, and Waleed Zuaiter.

    So good!

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  4. Caught up on podcasts – that is not going to happen for me anytime soon. I used to listen to audiobooks on my commutes and I would get 90 minutes or so a day in. Since I’ve shifted to work from home, my audiobook reading has dwindled quite a bit.

    Narrators do add quite a bit, although I have not really followed a narrator from one author’s works to another yet. The Dresden Files narrator is one that sticks out as a good one to me.

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  5. I have a few acres of land that I’m restoring to native ecology, so I spend a lot of time on a tractor or cutting brush. I spend a lot of that time listening to audiobooks.

    A few of my favorites:
    Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are the best. They have done all of the Stormlight Archive books and the Wheel of Time. They also did Sanderson’s Arcanum Unbounded collection of stories, and Michael Kramer did the Mistborn series and Dandelion Dynasty books as well. All of which are excellent listens. Michael does the male perspective chapters, Kate does the female perspective chapters when they work together. Fun fact, they are married and record everything in their basement studio, and they coordinate accents, etc… so the immersion is perfect. They just released the “Way of Kings Prime” audiobook free on Sanderson’s website, which is an alpha version of the Stormlight Archive, which is VERY different from the published version, but still pretty good.

    As Chris said, the Dresden Files audiobooks are excellent. The narrator, James Marsters is an actor, so he brings that skill set to the reading. The entire series is first-person perspective, noir fantasy. So he is basically playing the part of the main character, who is telling you a story. It’s a really great way to listen to a book. The first couple of books are a little rough, both from the writing and the reading perspective, but stick with it to the third, and things get much better. There are now 17 books and a bunch of short stories, so you could fill a lot of time listening to these (I have).

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  6. Jamey,

    Far and away, it’s The Hobbit read by the incomparable Andy Serkis the voice of Gollum. In this 10+ hour reading, the masterful Serkis narrates an individual voice for every character…quite impressive! It made multiple trips to and from Philadelphia over a few weeks an absolute joy.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Reply

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