I’m sitting here eating my pork chops (Yes, I’m eating leftover pork chops at 1 in the afternoon ‘cus I’m hungry and mmmmm pork chops/edit: note that it has taken me over 2 hours to write this as it’s now around 3:30pm-I can’t help that I’m a bit picky about how my posts look and read) and listening to The Eye of the World…again. (I think I’ve listened to maybe 2 or 3 other book series in the past year or more, but mostly it’s been “Oh, I finished The Wheel of Time, guess I’ll restart it.) Anyway, I’m listening to the audiobook while messing around on the Mac and I go to Goodreads. Post a review for a book related to The Wheel of Time and it hits me. (Probably because I commented on it in the review.) I’m obsessed with Kramer. He is the BEST narrator I’ve ever listened to. Seriously, the best.
Before I start rambling about WoT and Kramer let me take a moment to give props to Kate Reading. She does an amazing job narrating the female characters in the series. I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than her. The way she interprets inner dialogue when the character is amusingly uncertain is perfect. She brings out each character and adds something different to all of them so they don’t all sound the same. ‘Cus let’s face it, 99% of the females in WoT are douchebags that think men can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, completely ungrateful when a man helps them, and think they are better than every other female they come into contact with and that they know better than anyone else what is best for everyone. Ah crap, I’m rambling. Back to the point. Kate Reading is excellent. I always think of one particular part when I think about my love for how she narrates these books. I’m talking about in Winter’s Heart Chapter 21 when Egeanin is talking to Bayle and she mimics his accent like a smartass. Let me quote this real quick and I wish I could add an audio clip of Reading reading it, but I don’t know how to do that. (That’s not easy for me to admit.)
Stubborn man that he was, he scowled and scrubbed at his short beard irritably. “I do still say we could have dropped it all over the side,” he muttered. “That Seeker had no proof I did have it aboard.”
“Seekers do no need proof,” she said mocking his accent. “Seekers do find proof, and finding do be painful.”The Wheel of Time: Winter’s Heart Chapter 21
Kate Reading is so on point with the mockery reading that part and it cracks me up every time. I won’t lie, sometimes I listen to it a few time because I’m easily amused and she’s perfect there.
On to my obsession. There’s something about Michael Kramer’s voice that keeps me hooked on listening to WoT over and over. I mean, he’s not the only reason, but he’s a big part of it. If you’ve ever listened to the audiobooks you should know what I mean. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now. Listening to The Eye of the World, his interpretation of the 3 ta’veren makes them sound younger than they are. But as the series progresses they begin to sound more mature. I can’t describe it any better than that and I feel like I haven’t done Michael Kramer justice in that description. If you listen to Mat in particular – and I’m not just choosing him because of my obsession with him as well, I’m choosing him because to me it’s the most noticeable and biggest change throughout the series – in The Eye of the World he sounds like a child, not like the 20-year-old that he is. Now go all the way to Knife of Dreams (book 11) and there’s a HUGE difference in Kramer’s interpretation of this character. It’s the same for the other two as well. In my experience, narrators pick an interpretation and stick with it through a series, regardless of what occurs. IMHO Kramer knew that what Rand, Mat and Perrin are going through was changing them, making them grow up and he reflects that in his reading. It’s a gradual change. Little by little through the series as they change, he changes how he reads them.
As a comparison, listen to the Shadowmarch series audiobooks. (I don’t particularly care for that narrator, but it is what it is.) Point being, in Shadowmarch he makes Barrick sound like a spoiled child, a brat. Through the 4 books, Barrick goes through a lot of things that change him, change his views on everything he’s ever believed, change how he feels about everyone he’s ever known and loved. And yet, in Shadowheart the narrator still makes him sound like a spoiled brat. Drives me insane. I firmly believe that yeah Barrick was a bit brattish in the beginning, but by the end of that series he was a completely different person. The narrator did nothing to reflect that in his reading so the listener can hear it. I don’t think I’m explaining this very well but meh, it’s the best I can do.
Kramer makes you feel what these people are going through.
Another point: there is something I can’t put my finger on about that man’s voice that just pulls me in and keeps me hooked. So hooked that I have the audiobooks playing at work whenever I get the chance. It’s kind of deep, but not too deep, a little gravely at points. Each character he reads has a slight difference in how he sounds. Obviously when he reads Ogier parts it’s a huge difference from the humans, which is one of my favorites. He does it so well. But between one human and another he uses different accents when necessary, different inflections in speech that really separates one from another.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of things he does that don’t sit well with me. The biggest one being the following. I’m going to quote how every book starts, then explain afterwards.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
Now, sometimes he reads that last line, the “a”, as /ei/ (think of how it sounds when you say “ate”). At other times he pronounces it as /uh/. That. Makes. Me. Want. To. Throw. Things. It’s possible I’m being too nitpicky, but I feel like in that quote it should always be pronounced as /ei/. It just doesn’t sound right when he does the /uh/ version. I don’t love it.
I have issues with Reading’s narration at times as well. Like the flip flopping of pronouncing Moiraine’s name in The Eye of the World. The flip flopping of pronouncing Moghedien’s name throughout the series. I have issues with the two of them pronouncing the same names of items, places, characters, etc. differently throughout the series. But these are just minor annoyances. And I can’t really fault them for anything because 1) this is a huge series with a shit ton of characters and a shit ton of things going on, 2) it’s possible that when they started reading the series they weren’t given proper pronunciation of these things and had to adapt as they went along, and 3) it’s obvious that they worked pretty hard to make these characters come to life in their narration.
All that being said, there’s not much to complain about for me when it comes to Kramer or Reading narrating these books. Especially compared to some of the experiences I’ve had with audiobooks. (i.e. the Shadowmarch series narrator has me regretting getting the audiobooks and that makes me a bit sad because it’s in my top 3 favorite Fantasy series.) The fact that I come back to them (all 15 because I have the prequel as well) really says something about the story, but also about the people that narrate the story.
I don’t remember ever even wanting audiobooks when I was younger. As a matter of fact, when I found out that was a thing I was all, “Pfft, I don’t need someone reading to me, I know how to read.” Now I’m all, “Bring it, and you better be good or I’m going to be annoyed that I wasted my money on you.” I love audiobooks now, especially on my drive to and from work every day, when I’m cleaning or working on the computer. Hell, even when I’m not doing anything I like to listen to them. If it wasn’t for my audiobooks I’d have to listen to the bs on the radio. *shudders* No, thank you.
I mean, yes, I could drive in silence but I’ve tried that and it makes the drive seem even longer than it is. I can’t handle it. Since I can’t read and drive, I’ll listen and drive. Seriously when I’m not listening to WoT, I’m usually listening to the Dresden Files audiobooks. ‘Cus y’know, James Marsters is a pimp and there’s something humorous about him reading about a character that’s nicknamed Spike by the MC in the book. (Look, I know that’s only in like 1 book or something but it’s still funny.) That’s good shit right there. Plus he does so well narrating Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.
Wow, this is a lot longer than I expected it to be. Hopefully I haven’t bored you to death. I might go grab my Paperwhite and read along with Reading and Kramer.
Yep, I do that, it’s a thing.
Or maybe I’ll spend a little time reading the Mistborn trilogy by Sanderson cus I have those and the audiobooks to boot. Psst, Kramer narrates those too. #obsessmuch