[originally part of an audiobook roundup post, which is where the comments all are, and split into five parts for MT import; use the previous and next links]
Another set of four short books I listened to is Full Cast Audio’s performances of the Circle of Magic books, by Tamora Pierce. As the name suggestions, these are narrated by the author, but with a different actor for each major character. In addition, these are YA novels, with the Circle of the title made up of four young mages, and those parts are played by young people (though not as young as the characters).
Obviously, this is a cool way to do audiobooks if you can manage it. (Pierce has a longish essay on the recording experience that I found interesting.) It’s more natural-sounding, and if you’ve cast properly, it will reduce the “which character is that?” confusion that even good readers sometimes fall afoul of. For the Circle books, some of the casting was very good indeed; particularly spot-on were Niko and Rosethorn of the adults, and Tris and Sandry of the kids (for the first three books; different actresses were used for the fourth). Of the other kids, there was nothing wrong with the actress playing Daja; it’s just that the “lilting” accent her character has seems to translate as “snippy and sarcastic” to my ear. The other main child character, Briar, was also played by someone different in the fourth book, who was somewhat stiff.
I actually know these books quite well—they’re comfort reads—but as the first set I listened to, they were still an interesting example of how listening is different. There turned out, for instance, to be a key scene in one book that I’d been mis-visualizing, somehow managing to skim over a couple of key words every time. And they were a good example of the perils of audiobooks: I’m going to hear Daja with that annoying lilt in my head from now on, where before I had no clear idea what it sounded like, and that was just fine. (I don’t usually visualize appearances either, or try to figure out what music sounds like.)