Tower of the Hand

Dotrice vs. Lee

2/28/2006 5:21:00 PM ET

TotH visitor Sacha recently asked us to post a link to an online petition concerning the audiobook version of A Feast for Crows. I debated whether I should, but ultimately recognized that the link was worth posting and the topic worth discussing even if I don't necessarily agree with the idea of the petition. Addressed to Random House, the petitioners say, 'A Feast for Crows' Deserves Roy Dotrice!

For those of you who don't know, the first three books of the Ice and Fire series were read for audiobook format by Roy Dotrice, an accomplished actor who previously worked with George R. R. Martin on the TV series Beauty and the Beast. Scheduling reasons prevented Dotrice from reading AFFC, so the fourth book was read instead by John Lee, who is credited with writing a number of books in addition to reading a few others. This reader switch did not sit well with listeners who had grown accustomed to Dotrice, but at the same time, there are those who welcomed a new reader. If you haven't heard them, has samples of both Dotrice in AGOT and Lee in AFFC.

It's easy to understand why the debate exists--each has his own individual style and the differences are sharply drawn. Dotrice approaches the text from an actor's perspective; he delivers dialogue as if performing the part of the speaking character. Lee reads the text more like a traditional narrator; he uses subtle techniques to distinguish one speaker from the next, rather than voice acting each character. Each approach has its highs and lows. Dotrice may deliver a fun performance, but sometimes his voices sound too comical (or too piraty). Lee manages to give the narrative a bit more gravitas than Dotrice, but his reading doesn't have the spirit that Dotrice's has.

Enter the petition. The petitioners are asking Random House (the publishing company that produces the audiobooks) to bring in Roy Dotrice to read another rendition of A Feast for Crows. I don't believe that this will happen, as the costs of producing another audio version are likely to exceed the benefits. However, if you prefer Dotrice over Lee, sign the petition. And why not contact Random House directly, too? If enough people express their interests, the powers that be will have to take that into consideration when it's time to produce the audio version of A Dance with Dragons.

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