Well, my adult responsibilities are making me, as The Will of the Empress was nominated by a committee colleague, and so I must listen ... while keeping an open mind. So, I'll start with the positives (Haven't you found that people say that when they are just chomping at the bit to get to the stuff they hated?).
- It's so much better than I thought it would be. All the readers have created characters that are lively, original, and distinctive, and they are reading like professionals.
- The author's reading of the narration is actually starting to grow on me. At first I just listened thinking why is Tamora Pierce reading. this. book. as. if. I. were. stupid? I can only hope that the deliberate way she has chosen to read was a narrative choice and that she doesn't read that way normally. Because, it. is. a. little. offputting. However, halfway through I'm thinking that this approach shows a nice contrast between the narrative and the dialog.
- The music is wonderful (FCA always does a great job with evocative music). It's used in a variety of ways, which I also enjoy -- between chapters, in pauses within chapters, at the beginning and end of a disk, and as an integral part of the narration. When the characters are speaking to each other telepathically, their dialog is accompanied by bells. A simple and effective way to make the distinction.
But (here it comes), this is just not a book that lends itself to audio. I am halfway through (14 disks! Harry only had 17), and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that there has been precious little magic and a whole lot of court intrigue -- of the talking variety, not the swashbuckling kind. Everyone is talking and talking, and then talking about talking. It is extremely slow going if one is listening. I can tell that the plot is now ready to get going, but it has been too much of a slog thus far to recommend.
At ALA, Bruce Coville (of FCA) mentioned that among their current projects is a Pierce book that is being written for audio performance and subsequently will be published in print. Look here and then page down to March 25. (I believe I have commented elsewhere about the vocal qualities of the actress who portrays Evvy ... .)