Saturday, October 24, 2015
Ancillary Sword (audiobook) by Ann Leckie, narrated by Adjoa Andoh
I wrote a review of my paperback copy of Ancillary Sword a couple months ago. Since my feelings about the story haven't changed, I'm not going to be writing about that here. I'm also not going to write another synopsis. Instead, I'll stick to the audiobook narration.
Adjoa Andoh did a primarily wonderful job narrating this book. I most loved the voices she used for Breq, Mercy of Kalr, and Tisarwat. Seivarden's somewhat creaky voice took some getting used to, but I came to like her as well. My least favorite of her voices were probably Captain Hetnys, Raughd, Fosyf, and Dlique. Considering how things turned out with Captain Hetnys, I thought that her German accent was an overly stereotypical choice, although I admit that my being half-German may be a factor in that. Raughd and Fosyf's voices were just plain annoying. I'm sure this was entirely intentional, since they weren't supposed to be anywhere near likable, but it did make listening to them a chore. As far as Dlique went, I liked her well enough when I read the paper version of the book, but I found that her oddly nasal voice in the audiobook made me dislike her somewhat.
Although I enjoyed Andoh's narration, I'm still glad that my first exposure to this book was via the paper version. For one thing, Andoh tried her best, but the songs that Breq would occasionally sing were clearly not meant to be sung aloud. Which makes sense, since, in keeping with the trilogy's pronoun usage, the lyrics were English translations of Radchaai translations of whatever languages the songs were originally in. For another, Andoh had a tendency to put more emotion into her narration than the text sometimes said should be there. For example, in tense situations with Captain Hetnys and Sword of Atagaris, Andoh's narration was often heated, while the text stated that Breq's voice was as calm as she could make it without dropping into ancillary blankness. I actually didn't mind that Andoh did this, since it probably made for more interesting listening than if she had strictly followed the text, but the disconnect was a little odd.
I only recall there being one mistake in the narration. Early on, Andoh accidentally used Breq's voice for one of Seivarden's lines.
Also, one last thing: I recall reading a review in which someone disliked a particular writing tic of Leckie's. Her characters “gesture” all the time – for example, rather than shrugging or displaying some other specific kind of body language, they “gesture ambiguity.” I didn't notice this tic during my readings of the paper versions of the first couple books, but after listening to Ancillary Sword a couple times, it finally clicked. It still doesn't really bug me, although I was amused that I continued not to notice it in my reading of the paper version of Ancillary Mercy but have been noticing it while listening to the audiobook version.
All in all, this was a good use of my Audible credit. I've already listened to it a couple times and am happy that the third book was also narrated by Andoh. I only wish that I could purchase Andoh's narration of the first book. I'm guessing it's restricted to UK residents only? At any rate, the sample I listened to of Celeste Ciulla's narration didn't appeal to me, and I'm sure Ciulla and Andoh's differing pronunciations would be a bit jarring. I forgot to mention this, but Andoh put glottal stops between doubled vowels in words and names like Radchaai and Anaander Mianaai. That took some getting used to, for me, because the pronunciations I “heard” in my head while reading the first two books was completely different. My “Radchaai” had only two syllables, while Andoh's had three, and my "Anaander Mianaai" had six syllables while Andoh's had eight. Interestingly, Andoh's pronunciations had no effect on my reading of Ancillary Mercy - I still "heard" the pronunciations the way I had while reading Ancillary Sword.