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Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
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2011 Reads > GO: Too many characters?

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message 1: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
When the story kept bouncing around between characters and introducing new ones deep into the book, I started to think, 'Is this annoying me because there's simply too many characters?'

But I've liked other books that have switched between multiple character viewpoints, and I realized that I liked Crowley and Aziraphale best, and became weary when the plot strayed from their side for too long. I found them more interesting, likable and amusing than anyone else. I particularly became weary of Adam's circle of Them friends, though I realize it was important plot-wise to develop Adam's relationship with them.

So throughout I kept wishing the narrative had stuck with Crowley and Aziraphale much more, with much briefer asides for the other characters.

Anyone else feel this way?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Definitely. I very much agree, especially about being annoyed by whole thing. Shortly into the 'Wednesday' section, I figured I'd just quit the book altogether.

I agree that Crowley and Aziraphale are fun as main characters, and I disliked when the plot wandered away from them. I'd have thought that with a team that amusing, it would've worked better to have stuck with them and let everything else happen around them or to them. All the rest of it seemed (to me) too inane, and the humor too artificial.

This book gets generally great reviews, though, so maybe it just didn't work for me. It did remind me a bit of Douglas Adams, as well. I'm not really an Adams fan, and hardly made it through the first Hitchhiker's Guide.


Paul Davidson (paulbd) I thought it was just the right amount, but I am also reading A Clash of Kings while I read this one so I have been accustomed to a large cast of characters. I do wish they spent more time with Crowley and Aziraphale, their interactions were my favorite parts of the book besides the other four horsemen of the apocalypse.


message 4: by Don (new) - rated it 5 stars

Don (walsfeo) | 37 comments I hadn't thought of it as being too many characters, just that this book was early quite some time ago and the authors have developed huge careers since then. It's like looking back in time to see where they came from, but if either one of them did an edit or rewrite today they'd be much better at knowing what characters should get how many pages.

Or maybe there are too many characters.


message 5: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
Well, I should stress that 'too many characters' was my first thought, but then I realized it was really 'too many characters I find less interesting than Crowley and Aziraphale.' I'm actually fine with the number of characters, but not with the time spent with each.


terpkristin | 4036 comments I have to say, that it might be a little bit of that that's throwing me off with the audio book (having read this book awhile back in print). With a print version, I can go back and remind myself of people, which is harder with an audio version. Also, I'm finding that it's sometimes difficult to figure out who's talking in the audio version, which can make some conversations between characters hard to follow. I'm about a quarter through the book, if I remember right I'm at the point just before Crowley and Aziraphale drop out.


Lepton | 176 comments Listening to audiobook. About half way through. It is fantastic of course. Crowley and Aziraphale seem to be the comedy duo touchstone for the larger story. The action swings back to these characters for commentary, satire, and plot movement.

I had a bit of confusion in the hospital with the babies. At this point, I am not even sure who the Anti-Christ character is. I've lost his name in all the shuffle. I also have no idea where Adam and the They came from. I must have skipped over something without knowing it or fell asleep during a passage. Kind of wish I had the text instead, but the performance in the audiobook is unparalleled.


Sgtdetritus | 9 comments I've read this book several times and even though the character list is daunting at first, it does get tied up by the end. Crowley and Aziraphale are great, but I find Adam to be pretty compelling. I also love Dog, but that's just me.


Will (longklaw) | 261 comments Yes, there are too many characters. It's almost as bad as a Wheel of Time book.


message 10: by Curt (last edited Jan 25, 2011 10:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Curt Eskridge | 90 comments I'd blame the number of characters on the source material. Hell's Legions, four Horsemen, the holy trinity, two angels and a hell puppy. That makes for a good dozen before the more human cast shows up. The Bible and related christian tomes show no restraint for the cast a characters so if you are going to play around with those ideas you get a big cast.


terpkristin | 4036 comments One place I keep finding myself getting lost is when I'm listening to the part about Newt Pulcifer. I have no idea why. It's not so much "too many characters" but maybe "a lot of talking that isn't making sense with the main story"...


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2711 comments I find I care about Agnes and all that the least. And in listening to the audio book, I actually don't know how many friends Adam has. One is a girl, right, and then several peevy voices, and then Adam's who sounds like he's been stuck too long in the Princeton library....


Hilary A (hilh) | 40 comments Hmm reading a dead-tree version of the book helps because of being able to readily flip back to reread parts I didn't get the first go around. I imagine it would be slightly more annoying on an ereader and quite difficult to do while listening to the audiobook? Either way, dead-tree works so well for so many characters I hardly notice difficulty in keeping track. (And for the record, I have already had to flip back a few times to get the story straight :|)


Joshua Hansford | 52 comments I've tackled books with a bigger character list (Game of Thrones) but something about the Good Omen's cast does seem too full. I didn't like the witch hunters so much. It's interesting to see how Adam turns out in suburbia but with powerhouses like Crowley, Aziraphale, and the Horsemen they are not very interesting.


message 15: by Linda (last edited Jan 26, 2011 05:23PM) (new)

Linda (lindawilkins) Well, I've tried 3 times and I just can't get into this book. About 30 - 40 pages in and I start to lose my concentration and get bored.

But, I did get The Wee Free Men, and I'm liking that a lot.

I'll try Good Omens again some other time, but for now it's just not interesting me enough.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2711 comments LindaW wrote: "Well, I've tried 3 times and I just can't get into this book. About 30 - 40 pages in and I start to lose my concentration and get bored.

But, I did get The Wee Free Men, and I'm liking that a lot. "


Linda, I really liked the Tiffany Aching ones too, particularly once I got to Wintersmith. Good Omens isn't for everyone!


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I didn't like the lack of depth they could have given Crowley and Aziraphale. I kept finding myself flipping back and forth to remember who did what and why they were in the story.


Sideshow | 1 comments The number of characters did not bother me. I just did not like having to leave the most interesting characters(Crowley and Aziraphale) for the lesser.

I also got a little confused during the baby swap while listening to the audiobook. I got that there was a screw-up, but not where each baby had gone.


Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I read the book a couple of years ago and really loved it. I don't usually re-read, but I thought I'd give the audio version a shot. I do like the narrator, but the book isn't translating well to audio for me. I had absolutely no idea that it jumped around so much. I just listened to the baby-switching scene and it suddenly popped into a bit about Anathema reading Agnes Nutter's prophesies and 12 year old what-his-name's difficulty with electronics. I honestly don't remember getting so confused with this in the book. Is it because the narrator doesn't pause at all when he goes into these asides? In audio, it does seem like there are too many characters and I would have been totally lost if I hadn't already read it in print.


message 20: by Curt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Curt Eskridge | 90 comments Sideshow wrote: I also got a little confused during the baby swap while listening to the audiobook. I got that there was a screw-up, but not where each baby had gone."

Actually I think that the baby mixup being unclear was purposeful. When they brought the third baby back into the mix you were supposed to think that he was possibly the hellspawn.


terpkristin | 4036 comments Sandi wrote: "I read the book a couple of years ago and really loved it. I don't usually re-read, but I thought I'd give the audio version a shot. I do like the narrator, but the book isn't translating well to audio for me. I had absolutely no idea that it jumped around so much. I just listened to the baby-switching scene and it suddenly popped into a bit about Anathema reading Agnes Nutter's prophesies and 12 year old what-his-name's difficulty with electronics. I honestly don't remember getting so confused with this in the book. Is it because the narrator doesn't pause at all when he goes into these asides? In audio, it does seem like there are too many characters and I would have been totally lost if I hadn't already read it in print. "

I'm in this exact situation. Read it awhile ago in dead tree edition, really liked it. Listening to it now and finding myself almost lost.

Though what I said earlier about not being sure who was talking when was like Tom said in the podcast, it only really happens when there isn't clear delineation such as "So and so replied..." I'm finding his voices for Aziraphale and Crowley are quite similar.


Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments terpkristin wrote: "Though what I said earlier about not being sure who was talking when was like Tom said in the podcast, it only really happens when there isn't clear delineation such as "So and so replied..." I'm finding his voices for Aziraphale and Crowley are quite similar."

I'm beginning to think that the narrator may not really be that good. I find his performance entertaining, but if you can't follow what's going on even when you've read the book in print, then the actual narration probably isn't a good interpretation.


message 23: by Curt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Curt Eskridge | 90 comments Sandi wrote: "terpkristin wrote: "Though what I said earlier about not being sure who was talking when was like Tom said in the podcast, it only really happens when there isn't clear delineation such as "So and ..."
There are at least two versions of this book on Audio. The US version of Audible has Martin Jarvis reading Good Omens and the UK version of Audible has Stephen Briggs reading Good Omens. I think Jarvis has more distinct character voices than I have heard Briggs pull off in other Discworld books.


Colin | 278 comments I just finished the book about an hour ago. The only trouble i ended up having was trying to remember who the heck Warlock was when his name was first mentioned as a boy. The answer presented itself eventually, but at the time i was scratching my head.

I though they did Adam and Them really well. They reminded me of an Infernal Stalky and Co., Stalky & Co

After catching up on both Wheel of Time, and the Game of Thrones series, this book almost has two few characters. Terry Pratchett does like his character clusters. The Big Ones, and then a ton of small ones that flit about the edges of the plot doing funny things, usually poking fun at some aspect of our contemporary culture that would sound clunky/out of character coming out of the mouths of The Big Ones.
eg,
- The Other Four...Bikers
- The telemarketers.
- Head of the Citizen's association, and Schozi.


message 25: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1116 comments Mod
Curt wrote: "Sandi wrote: "terpkristin wrote: "Though what I said earlier about not being sure who was talking when was like Tom said in the podcast, it only really happens when there isn't clear delineation su..."

Maybe that explains it because I was starting to doubt my sanity. I felt the audiobook was perfectly clear with distinct voices especially between Crowley and Aziraphale. And I wasn't confused by scene switching all that often. It felt like I was listening to a radio play most of the time. But I was listening to the Martin Jarvis recording.


Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I'm listening to the Martin Jarvis narration. I do admit that his delivery really has me cracking up. I just get confused because he doesn't pause when switching scenes.


message 27: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 43 comments I really liked Martin Jarvis' narration. In fact, I think it's what kept me coming back for more when some of the book got a tad tedious. What I found most impressive (ironically, considering this thread) was how he managed to voice every character uniquely. Even down to some of the minor characters like the package delivery man or Adam's grumpy neighbor.


message 28: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (shaeon) Having just listened to the podcast, I have to post in favor of Just the Right Number of Characters. I found myself annoyed - and almost offended - at the recommended removal of characters during the podcast. There's not a character I would change: I love the horsemen of the apocalypse, I love the them, I love Shadwell, and I'm even fond of Newt and Anathema (without him we don't get a certain perspective on Shadwell that basically makes him a less offensive character, without her we don't get the prophecies of Agnes Nutter).

Of course, I'm definitely biased because I love this book and I've re-read it many times. I'm also a little surprised at people finding it hard to follow. I've loaned this book to many people and have never gotten the reaction that it was in any way difficult to follow.


Nukethewhalesagain | 27 comments I'm right there with you Shannon. Each character had enough great moments that I would never dream of getting rid of any of them.

Maybe its really only a problem for the audiobook crowd.


message 30: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (shaeon) That's a good point. My partner listens to audiobooks and she got the audiobook for this, and so I listened to it as well. I thought the performance on the audio was good, but there were parts where I got confused by the events (as some people have noted) - even though I had already read the book numerous times. Some parts that never bother me in writing seemed to drag out in the audiobook as well.

Also, I think there was some mention in the podcast of Adam being annoying. In the audiobook he's read with a snobbish, Brit-upperclass tone of voice. In the book I always just imagined him being a typical leader of the pack type kid, which you may witness in any group of kids playing, anywhere. Therefore when I read the character, his tone was one that I applied - and because it's fairly standard kid behavior, I didn't imagine Adam with like or dislike. Meanwhile, listening to the audiobook you are stuck with what the reader imagines he sounds like. It's bound to affect your perception of the character.

Perhaps one of the essential problems of an audiobook is that it is a performance, and as with any performance your enjoyment of some part of the story is going to be affected by whether or not you are entertained by the performance in that part.


message 31: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 43 comments I found Adam's portrayal in the audiobook to be "off". He sounded much older and snooty than an actual kid.


message 32: by Sandi (last edited Feb 16, 2011 06:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments John wrote: "I found Adam's portrayal in the audiobook to be "off". He sounded much older and snooty than an actual kid."

I completely agree with you, John. One of the things I liked about Adam when I read the book in print was that he was such an ordinary kid, as Shannon said, "a typical leader of the pack type kid, which you may witness in any group of kids playing, anywhere." My son was 12 when I first read the book and I thought Adam's character was very typical of a pre-teen boy. He didn't come across that way in the audio book.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2711 comments I agree with the audio-book-Adam problems. I kept envisioning some kind of northeast upper crust old money type, plus his accent reminded me of John Kerry.


message 34: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (shaeon) Have any of you had the experience that you see a movie version of a book you love, and there's a character that you think they completely got wrong - just thoroughly misinterpreted? And then you talk to someone who's never read the book and they say "oh, I hated that film, this character was awful" and you find yourself defending the source material, insisting that the character isn't really like that at all?
That's what this conversation about the audiobook reminds me of.


message 35: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 778 comments I read Richmal Crompton's Just William books when I was a kid (which tbh wasn't all that long before I read Good Omens for the first time) so I've always imagined Adam to be more or less exactly like William, i.e. irritating and obnoxious but fundamentally relocatable and lovable.


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