The Rosamund Pike Audio Version of The Eye of the World
I first read The Eye of the World in the early 90s when I was in my early 20s. Since then, I have spent innumerable hours with my eyes and ears buried in the books. I have listened to the Kramer/Reading version more times than is healthy, and I consider their narration to be the gold standard.
I purchased the new Rosamund Pike version of the audio because I wanted to hear the “weep for Manetheren” speech in Moiraine’s voice.
It was not what I expected, and the differences speak to the importance of the narrator.
That speech is read by Michael Kramer in the original version, and his voice has a sort of gravelly gruffness to it that makes it perfect for high-stress scenes that aren’t violent. It lends an air of barely controlled rage to the story, which makes it perfect for things like the prologue and the “weep for Manetheren” speech.
Ms. Pike’s version is, of course, very different. We’ve all seen and heard her use a snippy voice in some of the marketing materials released so far. I was expecting something like the voice she used way back in the table read video—very much in command and a little annoyed that she’s being questioned.
Instead, she used a softer, slower voice, more akin to the prologue in the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring. I found that a bit off-putting at first because it made the story sound and feel more like a fairy tale. We’ve got enough people saying this thing with exploding bodies and igloo sex is YA without actively promoting the idea.
As I listened, I realized that the difference in tone resulted in emphasis on different emotional notes than the previous version. Where Michael Kramer sounded angry, Rosamund Pike sounds regretful. The dominant emotional note of the speech isn’t anger, but sadness. Moiraine mourns the fall of Manetheren and is disappointed that even here—where Aemon died—he is forgotten.
Where This Version Shines…
… is the battle at the Eye.
It’s a very confused situation and I’m sure it’s not even possible to understand on your first read. I rather suspect most people don’t understand it on their fifth read. Maybe it’s just that I’ve read and heard those parts dozens of times now, but it felt easier to understand in this version.
If nothing else, the softness of Ms. Pike’s narrative style makes the dialogue—the screamed parts anyway—stand out that much more. I’m not suggesting that Michael Kramer and Kate Reading didn’t properly emote, but in this version the same emotions are pushed to a ragged edge.
I haven’t listened to the whole thing, of course, because there are only so many hours in the day, and I find it impossible to write when someone’s talking in my ear, but I am anticipating a full listen.