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I’ve been trying to decide what to say about this audiobook since Jim McCance agreed to do it. The story itself is already not everyone’s cup of tea; read aloud, the intense parts become almost unbearable. I had an abstract understanding of that going in, but I didn’t really understand until I was previewing it for approval and each successive chapter made me more and more tense until toward the end I was sweating and shaking, but curse it all, determined to get to the end. And when I did, I thought: “My God. Did I write this?”
But I did arrange for this audiobook edition, and I didn’t do it because I thought it would sell well. I did it because at the core I am still an artist. Businessperson-Me is a layer over that, but I’m still moved by my need to push against my limits, to try to see the dawn after every kind of night, from the quiet, gentle ones to the ones you’re sure will kill you. And this was an artistic exercise: a challenge to myself to see what this text, this particular text, would be like when transformed into a dramatic reading.
I think it was Jim’s performance of “Stone Moon, Silk Scarves” that convinced me he was the one for this job; that he had the urbane polish to pull off Lisinthir, the menace to do the Chatcaava, and (most importantly, for a male narrator), the quiet sweetness to be the Slave Queen, who gives the viewpoint for half the book. I was also sure, from his work on both “Unspeakable” and its sequel, “Unknowable,” that he could render a believable transition for characters who are growing and changing… and in fact, that he was probably just waiting for the opportunity my shorter audiobooks hadn’t given him.
I passed the manuscript over, and he delivered, and the result is harrowing and amazing and I believe at one point I was clutching my knees so hard I pulled something in my back: no joke.
Here, then, is where I warn you. This book is already full of trigger material. It’s full of non-consensual violence, often sexual. The relationships in it start out as tremendously wrong and abusive, symptoms of a culture that doesn’t know how to be vulnerable and genuine. It’s a book about the redemptive power of love, and the way empathy can change people, even the worst sort of people, but to get to that part you have to live through the violence and abuse, and when read—when someone is breathing it in your ear—it is tremendously difficult material. Please, be cautious, or avoid it entirely if you think it might be too rough for you. This novel is very important to the universe’s chronology, but you can learn everything you need to know by reading the wiki.
*deep breath* So. Have a listen, if you’re inclined. And as always, if it pleases you, leave a star rating, a like or a review… or check out my other audiobook offerings. :)