Let me share with you a historical audiobook I recently had the pleasure of hearing. It's Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell, and is the first in the series about a man in the British army, beginning in southern India in 1799.
Checkouts: not owned by either library
Typical reader: Men interested in historical war fiction
Source: Interlibrary loan
Synopsis: It's 1799, and Richard Sharpe is a young private in the British army, stationed in India and marching to battle the Tippoo Sultan of Mysore and his French allies at Seringapatam. He is rescued from the flogging post to go on a secret mission behind enemy lines to free a captured general, or at least glean vital knowledge from him to aid in the coming conflict. Accompanying him on this quest are Lieutenant William Lawford and Sharpe's lady friend, the widowed Mary Bickerstaff.
My Goodreads rating: 5 stars
I have one little quibble with this book in audio format, so let me get that out of the way first. As you may have noticed in the synopsis above, there are a lot of names involved that are difficult to spell. An audiobook is not going to spell those out for you. Nor is there a map to look at while you're listening, as there would be in the physical book. Much thanks to the other reviewers on Goodreads who actually mentioned stuff by name. (Also, Seringapatam is under a different name these days, like many other Indian cities; thankfully, Google maps recognizes that Seringapatam of old is now Srirangapatna.)
The flip side of this problem is something that really made the listening experience great: the voice actor. Physical books don't have voice actors, of course, and do not give the readers the full flavor of the various accents and tones encountered in a given tale. Sharpe's Tiger on audio, narrated by Frederick Davidson, takes the listener around the British Empire and then some. Mr. Davidson manages English, Irish, Scottish, French, and Indian accents, as well as different voices for the various and sundry cast. I particularly loved the Scottish generals: "Mah name is David Baird. B-A-I-RRRRRR-D."
Mr. Cornwell did a lot of research into the Siege of Seringapatam, and it shows in more than just the historical notes at the end of the novel. Details are meticulously accurate, with a mixture of real people - the Tippoo Sultan, Major General Baird, Colonel Arthur Wellesley, and others - and fictional - our hero Richard Sharpe, the French Colonel Gudin (much thanks to Sharpe's Compendium, as I thought it was Gouda before I looked it up), and the nefarious Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill. The novel stays true to most events, with some liberties to make Sharpe the British Forrest Gump of the conquest of India and the Napoleonic Wars.
|Much thanks to IX_of_Swords for the art.|
If I base my reviews and ratings of audiobooks on this one, there will be far fewer 5-star books. This is one that I can rave over (as shown above) and highly recommend. I'm eagerly awaiting the next audiobook through interlibrary loan.