Audiobook Review: Rogues, edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: Rogues, edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner DozoisRogues by Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin
Narrator: Conleth Hill, David Greenlee, George R.R. Martin, Gethin Anthony, Gil Bellows, Gwendoline Christie, Harriet Walter, Iain Glen, Janis Ian, Julia Whelan, Molly C. Quinn, Phil Gigante, Ron Donachie, Roy Dotrice, Rupert Degas, Scott Brick, W. Morgan Sheppard
Length: 31 hrs, 18 mins
Published by Random House Audio on June 17, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Anthologies, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Stories
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

A thrilling collection of twenty-one original stories by an all-star list of contributors—including a new A Game of Thrones story by George R. R. Martin!

If you’re a fan of fiction that is more than just black and white, this latest story collection from #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois is filled with subtle shades of gray. Twenty-one all-original stories, by an all-star list of contributors, will delight and astonish you in equal measure with their cunning twists and dazzling reversals. And George R. R. Martin himself offers a brand-new A Game of Thrones tale chronicling one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of Ice and Fire.

Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heart—and yet leave you all the richer for it.

I could not resist how many Game of Thrones cast members were narrating in Rogues. Plus, rogues are fun. The thirty hours was daunting, but I knew I could do it. Well, I did. Should I have? That’s a bit debatable. Whatever, I have conquered the neverending audiobook.

“Everybody Loves a Rogue” by George R.R. Martin: While I wouldn’t usually review an introduction, I really wanted to comment on this one, because holy fuck am I impressed with Martin now. Okay, okay, Game of Thrones is mighty impressive on its own, but I am squeeing about his opinions on literature. Basically, he believes that all genres are awesome, including the much-maligned romance genre, and that he looks for contributions of all sorts for his anthologies. Good work, sir.

“Tough Times All Over” by Joe Abercrombie: The opening story of the anthology didn’t work particularly well for me. Though I loved Gwendoline Christie’s narration, the story itself was hard to follow. It’s all about this secret package in a city of thieves. It’s stolen constantly throughout the night. It’s somewhat predictably twisty-turny and not the sort of thing that works for a character-focused reader like myself, since people are introduced only to pass the package on to someone else or to have it stolen in turn from them. Bonus points for ending with lesbians, though. Rating: 2/5.

“What Do You Do?” by Gillian Flynn: Flynn’s contribution is a thriller, centering on a woman who makes her money giving men hand jobs and pretending to be a psychic. Though I’m not generally one for thrillers, the mystery component here is played really effectively. It’s a total mindfuck, rug-pulled-out-from-under-you kind of story. Plus, I really enjoyed the voice of the heroine, and the narration (by Julia Whelan, I believe) is perfectly matched to the story. I’m a lot more curious about Flynn now than the hype ever made me. 5/5

“The Inn of the Seven Blessings” by Matthew Hughes: This tale bored me. I just kept waiting for it to end, then realizing that the inn of the title hadn’t yet appeared meaning that it probably wouldn’t be over any time soon. This story did not engage me nor did the narrator, Roy Detrice. 1/5

“Bent Twig” by Joe R. Lansdale: Lansdale’s story is a hard-boiled, violent Western sort of thing about a man who goes all vigilante to find his girlfriend’s druggie daughter. So far as that goes, it seems to have been pretty good. The narrator, Phil Gigante, certainly did a great job with all the characters, but this is so much not my sort of story. 2/5

“Tawny Petticoats” by Michael Swanwick: Once again, I didn’t find this tale particularly to my tastes. It’s some sort of futuristic Western thing with zombies. Admittedly, the zombie lore (where people are zombiefied in a totally not dead way with drugs as punishment for crimes to be used as hard labor) is really cool. However, I didn’t care about the people and, as a result, the story of a con job couldn’t hold my attention. Ron Donachie’s narration was fine, but not enough to save the story. 2/5

“Provenance” by David Ball: Now this is a story that’s more my speed. David Ball contributed an art history mystery with ties to WWII. The plot unfolds as an art dealer explains the provenance of the black market painting he is selling to the highest bidder. I totally called the ending, but still found this one highly compelling. W. Morgan Sheppard’s narration fit the old man well. 4/5

“The Roaring Twenties” by Carrie Vaughn: Since I’ve really enjoyed Carrie Vaughn’s fiction in the past, I was really excited for this particular story. Sadly, Janis Ian’s narration really didn’t work for me and I was bored. 2.5/5

“A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” by Scott Lynch: Duuuuude, people, most notably April (Good Books and Good Wine) and Jessie (Ageless Pages) have been telling me that I NEED to read Scott Lynch. It’s not like I didn’t believe them, but if the sheer badassness of this short story is any indication, they’re one hundred percent right about this. The story is fabulous, complete with an awesome fantasy world, plot twists, strong women, swearing, lesbians, and humor. Completely fab and the narration by Gwendoline Christie is perfection. 5/5

“Bad Brass” by Bradley Denton: Well, I was surprisingly impressed by Gil Bellows’ narration, his character in Ally McBeal not having left me a huge fan of his. He did a good job with the character. The plot was rather funny, since it’s about the theft of sousaphones and tubas, but I didn’t care about anyone in the story. 2.5/5

“Heavy Metal” by Cherie Priest: Meh. I’ve read some Cherie Priest before and a lack of characterization always ends up leaving me rather cold. This short story was no exception. I also didn’t care for the spiritual/religious nature of the story. It’s paranormal, but all the god talk didn’t do anything for me. Scott Brick does a good job, I guess, but I wasn’t in love with the narration either.2/5

“The Meaning of Love” by Daniel Abraham: Conleth Hill is fabulous and this story is a lot of fun too. It’s about this badass girl who has a crush on a prince on the run. He’s instaloved on some girl, and so there’s a scheme to save her. Basically, the ending is what I hoped it would be but totally didn’t think it would actually be. Winning. 4/5

“A Better Way to Die” by Paul Cornell: At this point, I’ve realized that it’s dumb to keep torturing myself with stories I know I won’t like and am not curious about. My apologies to Paul Cornell, since this has nothing whatsoever to do with his story and everything to do with the narrator, Roy Dotrice. It just figures that my least favorite narrator of the bunch has the most narration. I finally figured out what it is about his narration that makes it so hard for me to pay attention: he pauses in the wrong spots. There’s no natural flow to his narration. Good storytelling helps the listener understand with inflection and meaningful pauses; he just stops when his old lungs need air. DNF

“Ill Seen in Tyre” by Steven Saylor: Saylor’s contribution is cute enough, though a bit rambly and plotless most of the time. The resolution of things was hilarious though, so I’m bumping up my rating. Gethin Anthony’s narration was delightful. 3.5/5

“A Cargo of Ivories” by Garth Nix: After my difficulties with Sabriel, I was afraid of this story, but actually it wasn’t boring. It’s rather funny, actually. There’s a heist gone wrong and a sea adventure and fantastic creatures. Ron Donachie’s narration works well enough, though this isn’t one of my favorite narrator/story pairings. 3/5

“Diamonds from Tequila” by Walter Jon Williams:
A contemporary murder mystery featuring a Hollywood film being filmed in Mexico. The star ends up investigating the death of his costar. It’s pretty funny and the stuff with the 3D printer was awesome. David Greenlee’s narration is engaging, though I don’t know that it fit with my mental image of the character. 3/5

“The Caravan to Nowhere” by Phyllis Eisenstein: I am starting to remember why I mostly don’t read anthologies. There is so little characterization in these stories and it’s all about the worlds, even though this anthology ought to be full of Sturmhonds and such. Oh well. This was okay, but mostly I was bored. W. Morgan Sheppard narrated again and it’s good, but not omg talk forever. 2.5/5

“The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives” by Lisa Tuttle: Harriet Walter narrates a Sherlock Holmes-type story with a female detective at the helm. She and her male partner are still trying to make their company successful. They take on the case of a young woman who sees her late sister walking around. Weird but fun mystery. 3.5/5

“How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. They let freaking Roy Dotrice narrate ANOTHER. And it’s Neil Gaiman. Seriously, whoever decided he was a good narrator needs to reevaluate their priorities. All actors do not make good storytellers. I listened to enough to know this story is set in the Neverwhere world, which I don’t super care about, so I’m alright missing out on it, though I’d have preferred if they got a GOOD NARRATOR. DNF

“Now Showing” by Connie Willis: Some actors are good narrators, though, like Molly C. Quinn (aka the daughter on Castle). For one thing, she’s voicing a character who’s rather like her character on Castle: hardworking, college-aged and nerdy. Also, Quinn really just throws her all into this story. She reads with a lot of emotion and makes an already awesome story better. This is my first experience with Willis and I’m loving it. “Now Showing” is about a future where movie theaters are now megamalls, full of restaurants and stores selling merchandise. Franchises are neverending and Twilight has been rebooted. Funny and jam-packed with clever references. 4/5

“The Lightning Tree” by Patrick Rothfuss: Apparently this one is set in the world of The Name of the Wind, which I obviously need to read. It’s basically a day in the life of Bast, as he goes around trading favors and information. He’s a scoundrel and this was a whole lot of fun. Rupert Degas narrated and did a fabulous job. 3.5/5

“The Rogue Prince, or, the King’s Brother” by George R.R. Martin: Super amused that Iain Glen does this narration, because he would be an expert on the Targaryens. It’s fine, but also I don’t know enough about the world from the show to be fascinated by what reads more like a history than an actual story. 2.5/5

For all that Martin emphasized his love of all genres, these sure are pretty much all mysteries and fantasies with a sci fi thrown in for good measure. One of the mysteries is a historical story, but really that’s about it. He mentioned romance novels, but where are the romance novelists invited to participate? *crickets* Ah. That said, I was really impressed by how many of the rogues were females; strong women are all up in this anthology. I wonder if this is to atone for the previous anthology, Dangerous Women, which reviews state didn’t have nearly enough focus on women. Oh, there was also a delightful amount of LGBT stuff, so props.

Overall, this was a bit of a misfire for me, since I only REALLY liked a handful of the stories and most of the rest weren’t my thing. Most of it was fun to listen to anyway, with a notable exception. *shakes fist at Roy Dotrice* As with most anthologies, I would have had more fun if I’d DNFed most of the book and only read the stories that called to me, though I would have felt silly reviewing 20% of the book. Though this was a struggle, I still might check out more of Martin & Dozois’ anthologies (on audio, even), but hopefully I’ll skip more.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif game of thrones terrible mistake

4 responses to “Audiobook Review: Rogues, edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois”

  1. Brittney says:

    I had the same feeling with Flynn’s story. Gone Girl has been on my to-read list (albeit with a very low priority) partially due to hype and partially because a coworker crowed its praises from the rooftops. When I heard about the movie, I moved it slightly up, but still had no strong desire to make it a high priority.

    I enjoyed this story so much that I checked it out from my library the next day. I’m not usually one for thrillers, but I love me a pragmatic main character and creepiness that looms about.

  2. Gawd I can’t stand Roy Dotrice’s narration. Him and GRRM must be super buds or something because I don’t understand it either. That’s really neat that GOT cast members narrate this, that totally would have drawn me in too. I’ve never actually listened to an anthology though. I think I might have to pick this up and flip through it for just the good ones though. Especially Gillian Flynn’s! I’m going to have to check out the narration for Dangerous Women and see if I should go that route.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Summer Breaktime + 3rd Blogoversary!My Profile

  3. Matt says:

    Roh fuss writes “The Wiseman’s Fear” and Bast is a charter from thar world. “Lies of Loch Lamorra” Is by that Scott Lynch fellow your friends keep telling you about. Both are great novels and start great series, although Lies starts getting weaker as the series goes on…

    Nice overall review though. Appreciate the post.

  4. Bunny says:

    THIS. ALL OF THIS.

    Though you liked a story or two I hated, and I liked one or two you didn’t.

    But otherwise, ALL OF THIS.

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