01/10/2009. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Macmillan Audio. 5 CDs 12 hours. Price: $49.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-4272-0683-1) read by Erik Singer.
check out website: http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9781427206831
There is no doubting the fact that R.A. Salvatore writes a good captivating story. In listening to this audio book and the other from Macmillan in 'The First King' series, 'The Ancient', he weaves a tale which draws you in and keeps you hooked. This is especially true if you've got a good narrator. Erik Singer is a good narrator by any standard but in the context of this book he excels himself. The tempo and pace of 'The Dame' is just right for him to show off his talents.
Our hero is The Highwayman, Bransen Garibond. Now I know there are plenty of sagas out there, from time immemorial in fact, which feature a hero who waves a sword about in skilful fashion much to the detriment of fiend and foe. What makes this character, The Highwayman, different from the rest? It's probably the fact that he is more than just a sword wielder. Salvatore has made him into an enigmatic three-dimensional character of which the sword is only a facet.
In any other world this person would be put down as a nuisance but in the world of Corona, where the action takes place, he has found his niche. Cometh the hour, cometh the man so the saying goes but The Highwayman is a reluctant hero. He doesn't want to bask in the glory of past deeds. Like most of us, all he wants is a quiet life with his family but the vicissitudes of his cruel uncompromising world make this impossible. Forced into action, he is able for the task...and what a task he has in 'The Dame'!
There are plots and sub-plots in this story. The background scenario is that a couple of Lairds are fighting each other for the supremacy of a country. Meanwhile, Garibond and his followers, having returned to the city of Vanguard with the head of the evil Badden (featured in the previous audio book) expecting to resume their normal lives. The woman in charge, Dame Gwydre, has other ideas and Garibond is captured by a trumped up charge of assassination.
Now in the Dame's clutches, Garibond is forced to go on a quest at her bidding. He also has to prove his innocence. Fail in either task and his own life and that of his friends will be forfeit. Does he succeed in his tasks? The answer ultimately comes but, in the meantime, he has to navigate the network of roads both physical and metaphorical which lie before him.
There's more to this book than The Highwayman. A multitude of other characters make this an interesting venture, one which will keep your attention throughout. I must confess to not being an avid fantasy reader and the only other work by Salvatore that I've read is 'The Ancient'. Thus, my opinion on this matter may not hold a great deal of weight. However, I find this story perfectly acceptable and enjoyable to read. The audio version is very well done, entertaining and seems good value for money. If I am representative of Joe Public at which this publication is probably aimed, then the publishers have got it right.
'The Dame' featuring The Highwayman is no robbery. Definitely recommended to the extent that I look forward to listening to more of Salvatore's work.
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