The thing with audiobooks is that you have to rely on somebody’s interpretation. With a classic book (whether it’s on paper or on a screen) it’s up to you to determine what the characters sound like and how they speak. With a book you only have the author’s descriptions to guide you but with an audiobook that decision is taken away from you and, depending on the acting, the story is either enhanced or spoiled. With Honour to the Dead by Gav Thorpe it was unfortunately the latter, the screeching and cackling spoil the production, which is a pity as parts of the story were obviously well written and would have been awesome if well acted. On the other hand I really enjoyed Butcher’s Nails, Censure and Deathwolf which were produced by the same company, Heavy Entertainment.
So, I was a bit worried when I saw that the cast for Wolf Hunt appeared to be the same as in Honour to the Dead. For the most part though I needn’t have worried. Wolf Hunt is a much better production with one glaring exception, which I’ll come to later.
Wolf Hunt is a sequel to McNeill’s Outcast Dead and deals with the last of that party, Severian the Luna Wolf, as he tries to make his escape from Terra to try and find out for himself what is going on. The story is good, it’s paced well and the characters are interesting and well written. Both the protagonist and the antagonist (and I’ll let you make up your own minds who is who) are likeable and the big reveal at the end is plausible.
So, the writing is good, how about the acting and direction? Well, there’s less screeching in this than there was in Honour to the Dead which is all to the good and overall the cast do better with one terrible and glaring exception, Nagasena’s accent. There is no excuse for playing the character with an accent last heard in The Talons of Weng Chiang! For some reason he’s been played with a fake Chinese/Japanese accent. He’s the only character in the audio drama to have a forced Asian accent and it really is unacceptable. I don’t know whether it is the fault of the director or the actor but not only is it unthinkingly racist (other Asian characters in the story are portrayed with neutral accents) it cheapens and spoils what would otherwise be an excellent character.
So, in conclusion, Wolf Hunt is a very good story and a fairly good production, spoiled by one very poor decision. It’s worth listening to for the story but if you are concerned at all, I’d recommend avoiding it until the prose/script version hopefully comes out.