I’ve just finished listening to the Privilege of the Sword’s audiobook and even though I already reviewed the book back in 2012 there are some new (and old) considerations I’d like to make.
First of all, the production is amazing. It’s part of the “Neil Gaiman’s presents” audiobook label and because of that it’s been given the luxury treatment. First class dramatizations, original soundtrack, sound effects, the works. I mostly appreciated one of the two main narrators, Barbara Rosenblat, who I’m only after realising played freaking Rosa in Orange is the New Black! O M G. According to Neil, she’s the Meryl Streep of the audiobook world and I can see why. She’s got this beautiful, deep, rich voice that suits both men and women, and it just makes you feel you’re in safe hands. All you need to do is let her voice paint the words in your head and enjoy the ride. Ellen Kushner narrates the parts in first person, from Katherine’s point of view, and that works well too. Although I was expecting more dramatized scenes, like in Swordspoint. Felicia Day plays Katherine and I wish she had done more. You sort of forget she’s supposed to play her, until every now and then you hear her voice reading a letter or saying a couple of lines. That’s the only disappointing thing about this audiobook.
I listened to Swordspoint first, which meant I had now a better understanding of the mad Duke and his relationship with St Vier, which definitely added layers to his story. But as much as I enjoyed the first book and as much as I missed the scheming Duchess Tremontaine, my interest is all for Katherine. I can never have enough of her awesomeness and I really wish Kushner wrote more books about her. It feels like we’ve barely started to know her when the book ends.
This time around I didn’t notice the flaws in the writing style as when I read the book. I don’t know if I was particularly harsh the first time around but in the audiobook format the writing just flows naturally and I was never bothered by it.
And this time I did feel the romance between Katherine and Marcus. It felt like a beautiful and natural continuation of their friendship. And Marcus is such a wonderful person and a perfect match for Katherine in every sense, how could I not see this before. I was probably hoping Katherine’s bisexuality would steer her toward a girl, but there weren’t any available, really. Artemisia is not right for her, and the Black Rose, as much as I wish she could be, isn’t interested in a teenager with a crush on her.
Aside from my new perspectives, I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. I still think Katherine's character development is wonderful. I love that she shows her age in her complete idealism, in her love for drama and tragedy, and in her undying will to defend women's honor to the death, but also in her love for mishief and adventures. I love that she's shown loving aspects of both the women and the men's world. She still love all her gowns and frills and laces, but she also loves swordfighting and swashbucking, and sneaking out with Marcus, keeping secrets from the Duke and generally getting up to no good.
I wish there was more fanfiction about Katherine. There’s plenty about Alec and Richard, but virtually none about Katherine and whoever (I’m not picky. Even just Katherine would be fine). Or maybe I don't know where to look? Anyone care to direct me toward them?
I already miss her and everyone else and I really wish it had been double the length.