Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction discussion

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General Discussions > Good HF books available in Audiobook format?

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message 1: by Michal (last edited Mar 12, 2013 07:51AM) (new)

Michal (chrudos) | 154 comments Hi guys, this is my first post ever, so I apologize in advance for any potential faux pass. I love HF books (especially action ones), but I enjoy them the most while walking outside, and therefore I prefer (unabridged) audiobook format. However, it is quite hard work to search first for authors or particular books and then to check whether it is available as audiobooks. This thread should save time to all similarly oriented readers.

from my collection of audiobooks:
Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
Patrick O'Brian - over 25 unabridged books available
Bernard Cornwell– all books available (careful about abridged version – there are always unabridged ones available)
The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane


message 2: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments Afraid I cannot help you, Michal. Maybe others can.
I do not listen to audiobooks.
Not that I have anything against them, I simply prefer paper. :)


message 3: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments By the way..I put a question mark on the thread title, Michal.
Without the question mark '?' it reads like someone spamming. Trying to promote their audiobook.

Adding the question mark makes it look less like spam. :)


message 4: by Michal (new)

Michal (chrudos) | 154 comments Thanks Terri, good point! :)


message 5: by Dawn (last edited Mar 11, 2013 12:03AM) (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I do love my audiobooks so I have a few suggestions. I'll start with stand alone, straight, historical fiction....

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy War and Peace
The Coin of Carthage by Bryher The Coin of Carthage
Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell Gallows Thief
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks People of the Book
Roma The Novel of Ancient Rome (Roma #1) by Steven Saylor Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome


message 6: by Dawn (new)


message 8: by Michal (new)

Michal (chrudos) | 154 comments Thanks a lot Dawn & Marina, excellent suggestions!


message 9: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Most of Bernard Cornwell's are audio books. Anything read by Davina Porter is great. And Philippa Gregory books are all in audio versions.


message 10: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Just to reiterate, we still need to add links. Even if it's just to an author and not a book. Thanks. :)


message 11: by Monica (new)

Monica Davis Amazon's associate site: http://www.audible.com/ allows you to search audio books without a membership. (Hover over "shop audiobooks" and genres/categories display.)


message 12: by Michal (new)

Michal (chrudos) | 154 comments Dawn wrote: "Just to reiterate, we still need to add links. Even if it's just to an author and not a book. Thanks. :)"
fixed ;)


message 13: by Justin (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments One of the best audiobooks I've listened to recently is Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell , read by Charles Keating. Fantastic.


message 14: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments I think all of Philippa Gregory's books are in audio, also the Outlander series. Not all of Bernard Cornwell's are, or maybe my library just doesn't carry all of them.

I haven't seen any of Sharon Kay Penman's or Elizabeth Chadwick's.


message 15: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments My hubby has been enjoying the Cornwell Saxon series on audio lately. He read the books many years ago and is revisiting them in audio. Unfortunately the library doesn't have The Burning Land or Death of Kings on audio and he is very disappointed that his audio experience had to stop at Sword Song


message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments I got lucky with my library: it has two copies of Death of Kings in audio.


message 17: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments Tell them to send me one. :-)


message 18: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments If you can find Gates of Fire, it is narrated by Derek Jacoby, who does a fabulous job with it. Gates of Fire


message 19: by Justin (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments Terri wrote: "Tell them to send me one. :-)"

If only there was a legal way for me to share the digital copy with you. But then, I'd be Swedish...


message 20: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments Justin wrote: "Terri wrote: "Tell them to send me one. :-)"

If only there was a legal way for me to share the digital copy with you. But then, I'd be Swedish..."


Lol. Yeah, if only there was a legal way...or if only my library, who offer audio rentals, could offer it. All their audio and ebook rentals are obscure or YA.


message 21: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments This is a really good article about the comeback of the audiobook.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

I am personally thrilled that the radio play is making a comeback. I spent many happy hours of my childhood listening to old radio programs of Sherlock Holmes and The Green Hornet and anything else I could get from the library.


message 22: by Justin (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments Have any of you tried http://librivox.org/? Many books that are public domain are available for free audio download. I've listened to a few, and they've been high-quality so far. Mark Twain's work is on there (I enjoyed the reading of his Joan of Arc memoir), along with Doyle, Kipling, and so many other classics.


message 24: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments Dawn wrote: "This is a really good article about the comeback of the audiobook.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

I am personally thrilled..."



Hey, I Tweeted that one on the group's Twitter page a few days back.
I should have thought to post here too. Thanks Dawn. :-)


message 25: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Justin wrote: "Have any of you tried http://librivox.org/? Many books that are public domain are available for free audio download. I've listened to a few, and they've been high-quality so far. Mark Twain's work ..."

I think I'm gonna try out this site for a few classics my library doesn't have. I've always been a bit leery of the quality but if yours have been good quality I'll give it a whirl. :)


message 26: by Michal (new)

Michal (chrudos) | 154 comments Hi guys,

thanks for the great suggestions!
I hope I am not suggesting anything illegal, but I have quite good results with tts software (I use this one http://www.spesoft.com/free-text-to-m... ). I know, many people say how horrible tts generated voice sounds, but I have realized that even in normal audiobooks, many times I do not remember whether the narrator was male or female. With tts software it takes a bit getting used to, but after the first hour or so you should not have a problem listening to it, and I have to say that I no longer recognize that it is not a real voice (I now it is weird, I remember how robotic it used to sound...brain is simply amazing). Other good thing is that you can gradually increase the speed of the reading so I am now quite close to my actual reading speed. This way you just need to purchase or rent an ebook, and you can have an audiobook out of it within minutes. As I said, I am not sure about the legal side of the thing, but I myself do not keep the mp3s (no need, you can always generate them again) so hope I am safe :).


message 27: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments A girlfriend was telling me today of an app on her iphone that can turn any ebook into an audiobook. Sounds handy.
Though I don't have a single ebook, so somewhat wasted on me. :)


message 28: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19573 comments Me too. :-)


message 29: by Justin (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments There are quite a few free and legal downloads of ebooks on Goodreads. Explore > ebooks


message 30: by Simona (last edited Aug 17, 2013 09:44AM) (new)

Simona | 1452 comments Dawn wrote: "A girlfriend was telling me today of an app on her iphone that can turn any ebook into an audiobook. Sounds handy.
Though I don't have a single ebook, so somewhat wasted on me. :)"


Would that be maybe like the "Text-to-speech" feature on Kindle? That one is between awful and hilarious, with a robotical , metallic voice, directly from an old Star Trek episode...


message 31: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I'm not sure if it's like Kindle. She didn't say what it sounded like, I don't know if she even tried it. It just had to do with books so that means I automatically get told about it. :)

Justin wrote: "There are quite a few free and legal downloads of ebooks on Goodreads. Explore > ebooks"

It's not lack of free ebooks that's keeping me from having them. It's lack of interest. Though, if I'm ever that hard up for an audiobook I might try it.


message 32: by Justin (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments Dawn wrote: "It's not lack of free ebooks that's keeping me from having them. It's lack of interest. Though, if I'm ever that hard up for an audiobook I might try it."

I hear you Dawn. I've had a Kindle in my possession for over a year and I have only read one book on it, because it wasn't available in the US. I still prefer paper.


message 33: by Mark (new)

Mark | 39 comments I find that having a good narrator is really important to enjoying an audio book - so always listen to a preview before buying. Audible does have some good deals if you join their monthly membership, but it's worth checking out your public library - they sometimes have online ways of getting audio books or you can get the CDs for a minimal fee - I have listened to two Harry Sidebottom books that way.

I am afraid that being English, I do find that an English narrator works best for me - the one I am listening to at the moment - Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar is pretty good.

The Patrick O'Brian ones are good to.

Another aspect of audio books that I have noticed is that that style has to be quite plot focused - action & adventure style works well. Otherwise I find that my concentration tends to go - after all listening is less active than reading - and I literally lose the plot.

I would definitely recommend something that has been done professionally - if you are going to spend 10+ hours listening then it has to be done well.


message 34: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Mark wrote: "I find that having a good narrator is really important to enjoying an audio book - so always listen to a preview before buying. Audible does have some good deals if you join their monthly membershi..."

The English narrators (as in "from England") are usually great, but I think it is due to the fact that most of them have stage performance training. Stage performers (as opposed to movie or TV performers) are just better at it. I listen to audio books all the time due to a lengthy commute. Jim Dale, who read the Harry Potter books, is the best. Nathaniel Parker is a close second, along with Davina Porter. But there are a lot of good ones out there.


message 35: by Mark (new)

Mark | 39 comments The ones I have heard are great at doing different accents even for different genders - maybe you're right it is the stage training that helps?


message 36: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments I think it helps too when the Voice Over actor simply has an excellent 'radio' voice. Some people's voices are great for certain types of things but I wouldn't necessarily want them narrating a story.
I've only ever listened to a few classics, but the name of the VO actorayed a role on whether I'd even give it a go. Folk like Dominic West and Jeremy Irons I could listen to all day.
The cadence of speech, I think also impacts and (here she goes into her anthro gibberish again) but different geographic centres have different cadences. So if I'm reading a book with a character from NYC, one from Alabama, another from Berlin and one from England, I expect the 'speech's cadence' to differ, but not all VO actors get that.


message 37: by Justin (last edited Oct 01, 2013 06:24AM) (new)

Justin (jmlindsay) | 323 comments One of my favorite readers is Bronson Pinchot. I knew him as Balki from Perfect Strangers (a US comedy), but he is an amazing reader. He read Matterhorn, with all of its accents, and was fantastic.


message 38: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I found a good article from the New York Times:

Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opi...


message 39: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments I don't do audiobooks often because I get caught up in the story, so I can only listen to them when I'm doing something like cooking or making stained glass. However, I'm a firm believer that audiobooks are important for many of the reasons listed in the article.
Prior to Gutenberg and his wonderful gift to mankind, authors like Geoffrey Chaucer were commissioned to write a book that would then be owned by X member of the nobility but read to all.

Greeks and other 'Classics' not only sang their stories, but created plays for them as did others since. We liken them to films now days, but truly they were stories being told for the masses.

I can completely understand why audiobooks would be gain popularity, especially with the plethora of mp3 and other devices that can play them. It's not just a record or cassette anymore. Even dvds I think were a bit cumbersome for the media, but instantly downloading... that's only got up to go.


message 40: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I think classics are really good in audiobook form because they were written in a time when reading books aloud was common.
Dickens is a good example of an author that I think actually works better read aloud. He really wrote for it.


message 41: by Simona (new)

Simona | 1452 comments I tried to listen to audiobooks while driving, but it's a disaster. I become so engrossed I'm a risk to other people. :(


message 42: by Jane (new)

Jane | 3470 comments Simona wrote: "I tried to listen to audiobooks while driving, but it's a disaster. I become so engrossed I'm a risk to other people. :("

I'm with you; while driving, I've got to concentrate every minute on what I'm doing. Maybe audiobooks are good for something mindless like washing dishes or folding laundry [ugh to both]


message 43: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments Simona wrote: "I tried to listen to audiobooks while driving, but it's a disaster. I become so engrossed I'm a risk to other people. :("

Same here! ha


message 44: by Portia (new)

Portia What, you do 't text while you are driving, Jane!? :P


message 45: by Jane (new)

Jane | 3470 comments No, all I do is listen to the radio. Texting while driving: it's illegal here in NY State, except I don't know how they catch anyone. I don't even mess with CDs; my mind can wander when I'm changing them.


message 46: by Portia (new)

Portia I was jokin' with you. I can only listen to the radio, too. But not music because then I start dancing and singing and getting strange looks at stop lights :-)


message 47: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Simona wrote: "I tried to listen to audiobooks while driving, but it's a disaster. I become so engrossed I'm a risk to other people. :("

Wait, I've seen the drivers in Rome, how is this different than normal?? ;)


message 48: by Andy (new)

Andy | 1494 comments Ahhh that explains EVERYTHING about Italian drivers now ;)


message 49: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Jane wrote: "No, all I do is listen to the radio. Texting while driving: it's illegal here in NY State, except I don't know how they catch anyone. I don't even mess with CDs; my mind can wander when I'm chang..."

I used to listen to the radio, but when you have a commute that is at least an hour each way, even the best DJs get tiresome, the commercials are annoying, and the music repetitive. I've had this long of a commute for 18 years and I would have lost (more of) my mind if it hadn't been for audiobooks.

I know what you mean, though, about getting distracted when listening to the books. It isn't a problem when I am going the same way I go regularly, but when it is a different location that requires concentration, I will turn them off.


message 50: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Yes, I have a 80 minute round trip commute everyday and I don't know how I survived without audiobooks. I look forward to my drive now, I have tea and a book and I take the scenic route! :)


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