Audiobook Review - Stonefather

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stonefather is a novella by Orson Scott Card that I didn't even know existed. I ran across it while I was browsing my library's collection of audiobooks, and since I have been a fan of Card's since high school, I picked it up.

About the Book

Stonefather is the story of Runnel, the ninth son in a family that doesn't care much for him. His father is abusive, his mother barely notices him, and his siblings show him only disdain. They live in a tiny mountain village, and Runnel knows next to nothing about the world outside of it. One day Runnel decides to leave his mountain home, and he sets off without a goodbye to his family, without a plan, without any inkling of where he might be headed. Eventually he comes to the town of Hetterferry, which lies across the river from Mitherhome, where the great Watermages reside.
Here Runnel is lucky to meet an affable servant girl named Lark, who helps him to find a job in the unfriendly town.

My Review

After I finished the book I did a bit of research and found out that this novella is meant as a precursor to a Fantasy series that Card is planning called Mithermages. I think this is important to note, because the novella itself seems to be mostly about backstory, exposition, and education (of the hero as well as the reader). He introduces the system of magic, teaches the hero what he needs to know about himself, and then ties the book up with a nice and tidy victory for the good guys.

The Good
The characters are likable, the magic system is interesting, Runnel is someone that it is easy to be sympathetic towards. This is a quick, pleasant read.

The Bad

It really isn't anything more than 'pleasant'. I think this is one novella that could have done with a bit of fleshing out. The plot is predictable and rushed. The ending is too pat, too easy. I would have liked to watch Runnel grow slowly into his own rather than becoming the hero (literally) overnight. There is a bit at the end that feels as though it was tacked on, unceremoniously, to tell us what happened to Lark. I was ultimately disappointed. But I'm hopeful that the forthcoming series will give us something akin to the world of Alvin Maker, as these are problems that are easily fixed within a standard length novel.
The audiobook was read by Emily Janice Card, who, I believe, is Orson's daughter. I can't say that I loved her narration, but she wasn't bad. I don't know whether she has any other experience with audiobook narration, but I thought she seemed a little stiff. Not terrible, not a voice that's going to make me abandon the book... but not great.

My Rating


Brooke said...

Are you a fan of Orson Scott Card's? I've never read any of his books but have been interested in the past...