I used to be an avid reader. I was the kid who would camp out with a flashlight under the blankets after the lights were out and stay up half the night because I just needed to know what happened next. Just one more chapter. The one who read ahead in class. The one who broke out a book whenever I had free time. However, like most things that I once enjoyed, it has taken a backseat to parenting. With two small, very busy children, I simply do not have a lot of time to myself. And when I do have time, the peace is usually too short-lived to dig into a good book. But I sorely missed reading.
A few years ago, I discovered the closest thing to a compromise that exists: audiobooks. Sure, you miss a few things that you get from reading the book (like the ability to assign your own tone/intent to characters’ words), but I think you gain a few worthwhile things, as well. There is a wonderful performance aspect to it. And you can take in a story while folding laundry or cleaning the playroom or driving your kids all over creation.
Prior to subscribing to Audible, I had made several attempts at reading A Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the show and I knew I would enjoy the books. But as much as I loved the story and the writing, it was simply too complicated for me to keep up in between
screaming at parenting my kids. After reading the first five chapters, for the billionth time, I decided to try out the audiobook.
I was instantly hooked. The narrator, an acclaimed British actor who I had somehow never heard of named Roy Dotrice, was incredible. He had a unique voice for every one of the 200+ characters and read the book the way I expect it was meant to be read. It was dramatic and passionate, and I couldn’t get enough of his performance. I went on to download the entire series, and have since listened to it four times.
Whenever I have heard people complain about GRRM dragging his feet on Winds of Winter, my thoughts have drifted to Roy, wondering if he would live long enough to narrate it, because truly, I cannot imagine anyone doing half as good a job.
Last night, I was on my favorite online forum and someone mentioned that they were listening to the ASOIAF books for the first time. I was typing a reply, and I googled Roy to figure out his exact age (I knew it was ninety-something) and I found out that Roy had passed away in October.
I felt stunned. I felt hollow. I felt bereaved. And, in truth, I also felt a little ridiculous. After all, I had never met this man that I am currently crying actual tears for. I hadn’t even followed him closely enough to realize that he had died.
But I had spent more than 800 hours listening to his voice. He had gotten me through long drives and dark days. He had lulled me to sleep countless times. He had given life to a story that has come to mean more to me than I had ever anticipated. We shall never see his like again.