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Audiobook Review: A Song of Ice and Fire read by Roy Dotrice

Table of Contents

A Game of Thrones
Running Time: 33 hrs and 26 min
A Clash Of Kings
Running Time: 36 hrs and 38 min
A Storm of Swords
Running Time: 47 hrs and 32 min
Author: George R. R. Martin
Narrator: Roy Dotrice

This is a collective audiobook review of the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire which includes A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. There’s many a reason to love this fantasy but two that stand out would include a fantastic narrator in actor Roy Dotrice and the fact that HBO is in the process of making a series out of the first book, A Game of Thrones.

If the Lord of the Rings were made in America, George R. R. Martin would be their Tolkien. A Song of Ice and Fire (1996) chronicles the political struggle between the Starks, Lannisters, exiled Targaryens and other houses that are sucked into the black hole of Westeros’ 7 Kingdoms.

The books are long, making the audiobooks longer. Each book is divided into 7 or 8 parts at 8 or so hours each allowing roughly 33 hours per book. The trilogy will definitely extend to more than 100 hours of listening at 2 credits per book on Audible. In comparison, a typical audiobook at one credit gives you roughly 6-8 hours of reading while this one gives you 30. If you’re one for quantity, this is a good deal.

Buying the audiobook because of Dotrice was only an afterthought as the two reasons why I initially wanted to try the series on audio was because I couldn’t get myself to actually finish a George R. R. Martin book and because I had a long commute. At that time I only had the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire on paperback but I had bought this at a time when I had just graduated from college (yes, many a year ago) and well, stopped reading. Today, I have up till Book IV of the trilogy on paper and for reasons already mentioned, am now hesitant to purchase book four as its read by someone else.

Roy Dotrice is hands down the best narrator I’ve ever encountered for this type of fiction. Whether you’ve read the book or played the card game, Dotrice paints a very personal and memorable picture of the characters we’ve come to love and hate: Tyrion Lannister, Gregor Clegane, Daenerys Targaryen, Robb Stark … despite the hundreds of characters Martin puts into Westeros, Dotrice manages to isolate each one with his unique voice acting, bringing all of them to life (and death).

There is hesitation for buying into book four, as listeners have gained more than 90 hours of empathy with Dotrice’s narrative abilities. I’m not saying John Lee’s narration for A Feast for Crows (Book IV) isn’t at par — or wait, maybe he really doesn’t paint a very good landscape, but Roy Dotrice has set the bar so high, it would be hard to find another narrator who can do Martin’s work justice.

If it is anything I learned from listening to the first triumvirate of A Song of Ice and Fire, it would be my discovery of Dotrice as a narrator, making me search for more of his spoken word. Definitely a series I would recommend onto your iPod.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

12 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: A Song of Ice and Fire read by Roy Dotrice

  1. I’ve just recently gone through the wholes series, Roy Dotrice does an excellent job. However, John Lee’s narration is just bad in comparison.

  2. Had to respond – love these books and am a big fan of audiobooks, but really hate what Roy Dotrice does to the series – you couldn’t get a worse version of Danerys’ sections and lines – just like nails on the blackboard when he attempts a woman’s or child’s voice… or Tyrion’s… He does OK with the background text, but does a dreadful job on the voices. John Lee is much better, but there are so many alternative great readers – Simon Jones would have been much better. Or had various readers, male & female…. So disappointing 🙁

    1. I completely agree: Roy Dotrice’s portrayal of Dany (especially in Book 5) is almost unlistenable. She sounds like an ancient, gumless hag instead of the young, noble queen she’s supposed to be. Many of the accents don’t seem to be very well reasoned, either: You’ll have servants speaking in British radio English, while highly educated noblemen (like Sam) suddenly acquire a cockney accent and forget to pronounce all of their consonants. Even if you didn’t mind that, the voices and accents throughout are highly inconsistent, meandering from one accent to another for a character in a single conversation. It’s incredibly frustrating and distracting, and while I was able to tolerate it for Books 1-3 (and was incredibly relieved during Book 4), I had to stop listening to Book 5 altogether. He’s significantly older in the later A Dance with Dragons and should not have been asked to do the reading. He simply doesn’t sound physically up to the task.

  3. I am just getting into book 4. I was so impressed with Roy Dotrice! I love how you know who the character is that is speaking without him even saying. I am having a really hard time getting into book 4 with John Lee’s voice. It just feels so over the top and theatrical I can’t seem to get into it. and he pronounces the names differently. 🙁 I’m really disappointed that there’s not consistency with the books.

  4. I’ve never listened to any of Dotrice’s other work, so I won’t say he hasn’t done good work in the past, but his Ice and Fire readings are absolutely terrible. The only positive I can give him is that at least within a single scene he differentiates character voices… similar to how I can differentiate my two grandfathers when they speak to each other.

    The negatives:
    -All the characters sound like old men, even the young girls.
    -Some characters change their voices within a single scene e.g. Chataya in book 2. I guess Dotrice cleared his throat or took a pee break while recording that scene and forgot how he was voicing her.
    -Name pronunciation… some of these are debatable so I’ll stick to one of the most egregious, Brienne. Dotrice pronounces this Bry-eeeeen. “-ienne” is a fairly common suffix for many words, and a feminine version of “-ian” (e.g. Brian) for many names. I’ve never heard any word with that suffix pronounced in such a ear-mangling way.
    -Jarring accents e.g. Tyrion. Everytime he talks for Tyrion I’m forced to run through how Dotrice picked Tyrion’s accent like this: Imp = short = leprauchan sized = Irish accent. Why else would Tyrion have such an over-the-top Irish accent when the rest of his family doesn’t?

    It looks like even Dotrice fans hated his rendition for a Dance with Dragons, which I am avoiding until someone else voices it.

  5. I think Dotrice is a decent narrator and a terrible character actor as well. To have to listen to his rendition of trumpet blaring, female (and young character) voices, foreign language characters, and just badly interpreted dialogue, has become a very tough chunk of meat to digest. Almost every character sounds as if they’ve washed down a bit too much sandpaper to eat with their breaking of fast. His british/irish monotony adds no authenticity to his rendition of the fantastic novel, and my own brain does a better job at realizing character identity. I find myself interjecting and reacting parts in order to maintain a sense of plot progression without becoming totally offended. Sorry but this guy’s no good.. no good at all. I always want to hear what is going on outside of the limited rendition of a visual series, and i find myself saying nevermind… i’ll just catch up when the second season starts again.. ughhh… and double uggghhhh…..

  6. And furthermore I’d just like to add that George HAR HAR Martin is NO J. R. R. Tolkein. He’d be better as a soap opera writer, and is no real fantasy fiction GREAT. That said, I do enjoy his stories, but they are hardly on par with the level of ground breaking writing that Tolkein provides. He’d rather describe the glistening parts of male and female character’s body parts (in my opinion) than really broach new and exciting forms of fantastical literature. I thought more of The Tudors series that i think of this, though I prefer the genre of fantasy much more than i do of historical drama. G.R.R Martin is (makes you wander about his name indeed) is at best a renditionist, with a few original fantastical ideas. And this much strong opinion after only have listened to the majority of book 1 ….

  7. I just bought this audiobook and listened to the first chapters, but honestly don’t think I’ll be able to listen to the end. Dotrice’s reading is terrible, he seems to be always short of breath and I have a hard time understanding it. Very disappointing.

  8. Why did Audible hire Roy Dotrice to be the narrator when there are so many other versatile voice actors out there? Dotrice often sounds winded, and his aging vocal cords limit his ability to interpret female characters. He makes Brienne (Or, “Brain,” as he pronounces her name) sound like the hag from Princess Bride (“Boooo!”).

  9. I’m tempted to believe that the positive reviews for Roy Dotrices rendition of ACOK are plants by the Audible. His narration is acceptable, but his voice mimicry is aweful. All his women sound like old Irish witches, which is just frustrating and ridiculous. Why would Quathe from Asshai have the same accent as Brienne from Tarth? That’s like giving someone from South Africa the same accent as a Canadian… It’s amazing that no one listening to this as it was produced objected… if I was GRRM I would’ve told them to do it over again.

  10. I have a hard time believing that the praise for Dotrice is sincere. He is at best slightly beneath acceptable. He does create a sort of endearing feeling of listening to an old grandpa retelling some ancient story by the fire. But when listening for a longer while, his awful pronunciation of characters names and their accents becomes infuriating.
    I would love to hear a proper voice actor do these books some justice.

  11. Agreed, Dotrice is terrible, I have had a terrible time with books one and two and have Even considered quitting altogether. The battle of Blackwater Bay was so bad, there was no more excitement from one scene to the next, especially when Tyrion is attacked by a knight on his own side. Sansa’s singing was embarrassing. I’ve tried reasoning with the experience, maybe the narrator is supposed to be a very old Sam Tarly or ancient maester? It’s just awful. I’d take Old Nan any day.

    I would love for any one of the actors from the HBO series to narrate the books, doesn’t matter who.

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