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The Joys of Audiobooks

by on January 13, 2011

Ever since I was a wee lad, I have been extraordinarily fond of one of the greatest innovations of literature; the unabridged audiobook. Conversely, I particularly loathe abridged audiobooks, because I hate missing out on the story. It’s especially aggravating when I don’t realize I’m listening to an abridged version until I’m well into it, because then I have to stop and hunt down an unabridged version. That happened to me recently with an otherwise wonderful audiobook of a Star Wars novel, Tatooine Ghost. It was a post-ROTJ story about a painting called Killik Twilight, which held a Rebel Alliance secret and which Leia and Han were trying to keep away from Imperial forces, if I recall correctly. I never did go back and finish it. Ah, well, c’est la vie.

But I digress. Unabridged audiobooks are things of beauty. There’s little I enjoy more than getting into my car after a long night at work, popping in a CD, and driving along while listening to an expertly told story. I’ve listened to a good many audiobooks over the years, and some have emerged as my favorites. Mossflower, for example, was the first Redwall book I ever listened to, and it was a perfect introduction to the rest of the series (it’s still my favorite book, although The Long Patrol and Lord Brocktree come in close second). The Pushcart War, by Jean Merrill, is a hilarious satire where a collection of pushcart peddlers wage war against the domineering trucks on the streets of New York. My favorite part is when New Yorkers send a flood of letters to the New York newspapers defending the pushcarts, and the narrator reads each letter in a series of various comical accents. Heh.

Of course, my all-out favorite of all unabridged audiobooks anywhere is The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien and brilliantly narrated by Rob Inglis. Mr. Inglis tells the story in a perfect British accent complete with rolling Rs and different voices for the Elves or the Goblins. The best part is: he sings the songs. All of them, from the lament for Boromir in The Two Towers to Galadriel’s farewell to Lothlorien in The Fellowship of the Ring, to Bilbo’s verse about the road going ever on and on. The best song, I think, is the marching song of the Ents in The Two Towers.You can listen to Mr. Inglis’s narration here. It never fails to give me chills. Never.

We come, we come, with roll of drum: ta-runda, runda, runda, rom!

We come, we come, with horn and drum: ta-runa, runa, rom!

To Isengard, though Isengard be ringed and barred with doors of stone,

Though Isengard be strong and hard, as cold as stone and bare as bone,

We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door,

For bole and bough are burning now, the furnace roars-we go to war!

To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come,

To Isengard with doom we come, with doom we come, with doom we come!


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  1. You are the only other person I know who has heard of the Redwall books…. I was reading through your older blog posts and came across this blast from my past! I thought those books had sunk without trace!! This is very exciting!

    • A fellow Redwall reader! Huzzah!

      It has been a long time since I’ve read those books, and I need to go back and reread. I loved that series so much. Epic battles, mighty Badger Lords, stirring songs….and of course, the food. Oh, the food. Brian Jacques’ descriptions of the Redwall feasts were just glorious. 🙂

      • Oh they were amazing. I was about twelve when I discovered them, and I got thoroughly obsessed. At the time my dad and I travelled a lot because my uncle (who was living with us and couldn’t drive) kept acquiring junk from eBay and guess who had to collect it? So I used to read to my dad while we drove to Birmingham to pick up a table and chairs, London to collect a sofa,… etc. The books made the journeys so much more interesting!

      • Ps. Encouraged by the popularity of your various excellently insane stories, I have decide to restart work on a funny and mad sci-fi story I began several years ago. I think I shall put it on my blog actually. So you might want to look out for it 😉

      • Awesome! Funny and mad sci-fi is one of my favorite genres (the others being superheroes and Tolkien/Jacques/Lewis fantasy type stories), so I will definitely look out for that. 🙂

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