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Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you will have heard of JK Rowling's series of books about the boy wizard Harry Potter. This is the first book in the series and is an audio version read by the inimitable Stephen Fry. I am a massive fan of both Harry Potter and Stephen Fry, so this is very much a match made in heaven for me.
The story is exactly the same as you would find in the standard written version of the book; it is unabridged, so there is nothing missing. The story follows Harry's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry including his forming of friendships and meeting the dark wizard who made him an orphan when he was a baby.
The audio production is great. It is very much made great by Stephen Fry who not so much reads the story as acts it using his voice. He is perfect for the role. He has a soothing and clear voice that is suited wonderfully to this book which can and should be enjoyed by children and adults alike. He reads slowly and clearly enough that anyone can enjoy it, without it being too slow and laborious for more advanced readers, as it were.
When I say he acts with his voice, I mean that he gives characters their own personalities through their voices and brings to life JK Rowling's intentions perfectly. I read the written books before listening to the audio ones and somehow Fry has made them sounds like they did in my own head, which is just fabulous.
The thing I love most about the production here is that it is purely storytelling and they don't try to dress it up with sound effects and background music like some productions do. The story and the teller are both excellent at what they do and there is no need for any extras. It is good to see that the producers of the audiobook have recognised this and left them to it.
The only thing that has stopped me from giving it the full five stars is the fact that Fry is still finding his feet a bit in this book and so some of the voices are a little irritating in that they are very childish. Having said that, the main characters are only eleven so it probably makes sense. I find Hermione's voice a little grating and Harry's a little too high pitched in this book and the voices are less irritating in the later books.
Don't let that put you off though, because the audio books are a great way of enjoying the Harry Potter books and are an excellent example of storytelling at its best. Definitely recommended for young and old alike.
I am a big fan of the Harry Potter world. This is the first of the seven books in audio-form and is absolutely brilliantly read ('acted' or 'brought to life' would actually be more appropriate) by Stephen Fry.
I will leave the review of the actual storyline to those who review the original books themselves, and instead focus on why you should (or should not) buy the audio versions.
The books themselves are undoubtedly superb - I don't think there are many people, even worldwide, who will not of heard of 'Harry Potter' in one form or another, so when these books were converted to audio form, there must have been some pressure on a) choosing the right person for the task and b) pressure to deliver the reading in an enthusiastic way (when I think of an 'audio book' I immediately think of really dull readings of novels for people who are hard of sight - not to stereotype, but that's mostly the elderly...). These books are aimed at fairly young children (at least the first couple are), so the 'elderly novel' voice would not be appropriate.
In choosing Stephen Fry they have hit the jackpot. These books are set in Britain, so in my opinion they deserve/require someone who is quintessentially English to read them They also required a household name, for marketing, someone who is a little bit quirky (but not in a crazy way), to liven the story up and someone who's voice is instantly recognisable and soothing. As I say, in my opinion there would be nobody finer.
As the book goes on he produces more and more character voices and it is just brilliant. From Molly Weasely to Dumbledore - he interprets and produces each voice in his own unique style, never over the top, but always just right. Some are different from the films (which obviously aide in imagining the characters more than this), but I would suggest that some of his interpretations actually fit the characters better (in my mind at least). I am just wondering how long it took him to record and just how he managed to retain the same enthusiasm from start to finish.
This first book is a little short (but at the end of the day, the audio book is as long as the original title) and at around £15 is a little expensive, but is worth every penny.
I have transferred the CDs to both my ipod and PC and have started listening to them on my hours drive to and from work. I used to suffer a bit from road rage, but not with these in the cd player! Mr Fry's voice makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, as if you are sat around an old open fireplace with a cup of cocoa, under a blanket. Suddenly a lorry pulling out in front of me on the A1 isn't worth getting upset about!
I cannot wait until my daughter is old enough to appreciate them (she is only 20 months old at the minute) - I can see her listening to a chapter a night before she goes to bed in the very near future.
Ever since Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone first came out I have been a great fan of the series. The first instalment of the series is about a boy named Harry Potter who lives with the Dursleys - his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley. He lives with the Dursleys because his parents are dead due to reasons we do not yet know, and a strange and wonderful sequence of events begins from the moment he appears to be able to talk to a snake at the zoo. A large, strange bearded man turns up and tells Harry he is a wizard. Initially disbelieving, Harry eventually comes to realise his magical abilities and goes with him to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - a school dedicated to teaching young witches and wizards how to use their magical abilities. Harry soon makes numerous friends, particularly the ginger-haired Ron and the brainy Hermione and all seems well for Harry initially. However, strange events begin to occur within the school, which eventually lead Harry to come face to face with Lord Voldemort, who proved to be his arch-nemesis and may even have something to do with his parent's death.
This book by JK Rowling is a modern day classic, loved by children and adults alike, and has been transferred to audiobook wonderfully. The key to a good audiobook is always the narrator, who in this case is Stephen Fry of Blackadder and QI fame, who does an excellent job. He narrates with passion and excitement, and his deep, commanding voice suits the book's content perfectly. He is able to communicate fear, suspense and humour to the listener, and takes on the roles of the books characters very convincingly.
A great book, with a great narrator. Brilliant
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was the first book in the phenom that is and was Harry Potter and was written by JK Rowling. This is a narration of the novel by English treasure Stephen Fry.
HP and Philosophers Stone
As most know HP tells the story of HP's first year at Hogwarts, the school for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry Potter somehow survived an attack by the evil magician Voldemort when he was a baby, the attack did kill his parents and since then he has been living with his Aunt and Uncle and has no knowledge of his wizard past.
That's the quick gist of the novel, everyone knows it, it's been made into a film which is played pretty regularly on TV and sparked the rest of the Harry Potter books. The books are aimed at young adults but there is enough to keep older adults, and though the language gets more complex as the stories progress the excitement remains. The original book comes in at just over 200 pages, and can if read quickly be finished in a couple of hours. The book tells the early history of Harry Potter and introduces all the characters which will with time fill the story of Harry's struggles with Voldemort, so here we meet for the first time Dumbledore, Hadrid, Ron, Hermione, Snape etc.
As I mentioned earlier Stephen Fry is a national treasure, his voice is one of the most recogniseable and his wit and fluency with the english language make him a natural for reading audiobooks.
Stephen Fry takes the story and translates into an audible experience, he uses his 'normal' voice for the descriptive text and then slips into different accents for different characters. His skills with imitation means that the creepy Snape, honourable earthy Hagrid and insidious Malfoy are brought alive. Fry uses all his skills to bring the story into being, he flicks so easily between Dumbledore's classical English accent to MCConnacle's Scottish burr and Hagrid's earthy estate gardener accent.
Listening to a book being read by a master like Fry gives the listener a new angle on the characters in the book, the stories are given fresh life by the telling in accents and intonations. It also makes you listen to the story, rather than skim reading it makes you fully understand the story behind the story. With audiobooks there is no getting away from the story itself and as this is a relatively short novel, we get the whole story on 8 CD's and about 7 hours listening. I'd say this story is perfect for a long drive, a long journey on a train or in our case re-painting the living room.
Listening to this novel has made me want to listen to the otehr Harry Potter novels but I do have to dedicate longer and longer for every subsequent novel.
Sometimes even the best laid plans can go a little awry . After the struggles to make ends meet last christmas, I came up with an absoulely foolproof plan - I would think well in advance what people might like, add these items to my Amazon wishlist so I wouldn't forget, and then pay for them using the Amazon vouchers I earn through dooyoo . I'd order all the items nice and early, leaving myself plenty of time to wrap them! In this way, I'd avoid crowded shopping centres, last minute panics, and the general disorganised chaos and impending financial ruin that Christmas has come to be in my household.
Now, the wishlist idea was brilliant - i'd often read reviews here of things family members might like, and add them to the list to remind me to buy them later . It was through reading reviews of Harry Potter audio books that I decided they would be the perfect present for my mum - She, like me, is a Harry Potter fan , and she always listens to audio books before going to bed . I knew she didn't have any of the Harry Potter ones though .
Paying with Amazon vouchers was also a genius idea! Where it failed was the notion of ordering nice and early - this audio book arrived a couple of weeks ago, and, good as gold, I squirrelled it away in the super secret present hiding place to be wrapped up later .
And then took it out a few days later when boredom, a lack of anything decent to watch on television and a lack of boyfriend to talk to that night (he was gallivanting about at a wedding) got the better of me and convinced me that this would be just the very product for cheering me up.
Now, I'm sure most of you know who Harry Potter is - for those who don't, he's an 11 year old orphan whose parents died (so he's told) in a car accident . He lives with his aunt, uncle, and bullying cousin, in a dusty cupboard under the stairs .
However,all is not as it appears, and he soon discovers that he is no ordinary teenage boy, but a wizard . He's not even an ordinary wizard - he's a hero, after the curse that killed his parents bounced off him and put paid to one of the darkest wizards of all time - Lord Voldemort
His life changes as he goes off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - here he makes friends for the first time, and learns just what it means to be a wizard . However, there seems to be something else going on, and soon Harry realises that he and his friends are the only ones who can put paid to Voldemorts plans of returning, and ensure the continued safety of wizards and muggles alike.
So, I lay in bed, with the CD's playing through my computer, my ears soothed by the rich velvet voice of - Stephen Fry! I adore Stephen Fry, I always have done, although I did wonder how he's do with reading what is essentially a childrens book . I haven't heard him do anything for children before, although I've been informed that he is the voice on Pocoyo, a kids TV series .
He does brilliantly - he manages to build up the right athmosphere of tension, danger, and fun that each scene requires , and like any good reader, he voices each character differently . Whilst this brings up the obvious worry of pre-pubescent teenage boys sounding suspiciously low voiced, and girls sounding just a touch masculine, and everyone sounding incredibly well spoken, this really wasn't an issue too much. Yes, it was a little noticable, but Fry came up with some great distinctions between the voices of various characters, and vocal mannerisms, and I became utterly engrossed in the story in just a few minutes.
He is a natural story teller - as well as a great level of expression of feelig and emotion, and excellent skill at building up the appropriate level of tension using well placed vocal inflections, his voice is just incredibly soothing, making listening an incredibly relaxing and enjoyable, dare I even say magical experience!
Of course, none of this would be possible without the skill of J.K Rowling in writing the book in the first place - and it really is a brilliant book, certainly worth reading , with richly detailed descriptions, incredibly distinct characters, and lots of great dialogue. One of the things about Rowlings work I have always loved is the way details that seem hugely insignificant in the early stages of the book suddenly take on a role of major importance at the end . It is this knack of making every little incident mean something in the greater scheme of things that makes her
books so very enjoyable.
This 7 cd set, with a total time of 8 hours and 25 minutes, cost me £15.59 on Amazon . This I feel is very reasonable, especially as I listened to one cd a night before bed, giving me over a weeks worth of listening pleasure. It did help relax me and make me feel ready for sleep, but didn't actually lull me into sleep as some other audio books have done!
I imagine this would also be useful for long journeys to keep children (and adults) entertained, and of course for people who have trouble reading .
I think this is brilliant, and good value. I'm going to have to buy another copy for my mum at some point, and I'm certainly going to get all the other books in the series on audio CD also, and can't wait to listen to them all .
I can't recommend this highly enough - simply magical!
-WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, 'ARRY?
Well, quite frankly, if you haven't heard of HARRY POTTER - one would beg the question - WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?? But for those of you who have been spending the last few years under a rock - here is a breif outline of what it's about...
Harry Potter is a boy who at the age of 11 finds out that he isn't the 'normal' boy he thought he was, he is infact a wizard! So begins a whirlwind of adventure and magic as he prepares to spend the next 7 years of his life at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. His parents died in car crash when he was a baby - or so he believes, until the plot unravels that the Dark Lord Voldemort played a greater part in his past, his present and the rest of the wizarding world's future.
This book has some of the most memorable and lovable characters I have come across in a series of books. From the brainaic Hermione to the whimsical Professor Dumbledore, from the snarling Professor Snape to the bumbling Professor Quirrell.
-HOW DOES IT TRANSLATE FROM BOOK TO AUDIO?
I have been a fan of the books for a long long time, and when a 7 hour car journey was looming...I thought it time to give them a go...and GLAD I did. This is mainly because of Mr.Stephen Fry. He is the absolute perfect choice to read these books. One can't help but be spell bound by his soothing quality of voice and diction. Unfortunately, I cringed a few times when he created a voice for a character, when in my head they sounded completely different. But this was purely personal and obviously, this is irrelevant if you are listening for the very first time.
-IS IT VALUE FOR MONEY?
For 7 cds lasting in total 8 hours 25 minutes:
...The cost was £25, which I thought was rather expensive at first. It is very worth while however, if you have difficulty reading or prefer to hear a story rather than read. They are presented well in 2 double CD boxes that are very durable. I feel you are getting value for money as they last over 8 hours, and can be played over and over again!
-WOULD I RECOMMEND THEM?
Without a doubt - if you are a Harry fan and haven't listened to them as read by Stephen Fry, then go out get a copy immediately. If you are sceptical about the Potter books, try the audio and put it on in the car (or as you try to sleep at night) - you will be pleasantly surprised. The only problems I found, as with ANY audio book - is if you miss a bit - you either have to go back to the beginning of that section, or fumble around with the rewind button in hope of going back just the right amount.
I could happily listen to Stephen Fry reading the Harry books all day!
Thanks for reading :)
(also on ciao)
If you're considering purchasing this then you are either a) A newcomer to the Potter phenomenon or b) such a fan that you wanted to listen to it on the way to work to pick up the kids and to go to sainsburys in your car. Stephen Fry is a genius, there is none who could have done a better job at narrating. The first HP film would have been a much more appealing prospect if Stephen Fry did the whole Peter Sellars thing and played every character. It is fairly obvious where Chris Columbus (the director of Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone)got his inspiration for the voices and accents of many of his characters in the film. Fry's south west accent for Hagrid is spot on, whilst Hermione's prim and proper parlance is charmingly fussy, as opposed to her priggish character in the cinematic version. Everybody's probably heard a rough synopsis of the books; young boy discovers he's a wizard, escapes his evil guardians and goes to wizarding school where he gets himself in any number of scrapes. We encounter three headed dogs, an army of life size chess pieces, and a final battle on a par with any great denouement. This is a great gift for both the uninitiated and the avid Rowling fan. I guarantee it will ahve the kids in a stunned silence in the car. It has the same effect on my girlfriend, and she's 23. Fry's intonation and recieved pronunciation add an extra dimension to a brilliant book which is just as captive for audiences both young and old.
You will be glad to know that I don't intend to write yet another review of Harry Potter. Everyone who is interested will by now know what the story is about and if you don't then you probably don't care. What I want to write about is the tapes of all the Harry Potter series and the virtue of such tapes.As I describe below, they are an excellent way of passing a long journey, however there are many other benefits. Having listened to the first tape my son who was 8 was determined that he then wanted to read the book. He was a competent reader but we had struggled to get him to read anything other than books about football. He devoured it and has since gone on to read all the others. It was quite expensive to buy about £20 but was well worth it for the peace and quiet it gave us and both our children have listened to each tape several times since. Need to keep your children amused on long journeys? Then buy the tapes of either ‘The Philosopher’s Stone or ‘The Chamber of Secrets’. Both are unabridged and are brilliantly read by Stephen Fry. Both tapes last over 8 hours and if our children are anything to go by (one age 11 and the other 8) you will have a peaceful and enjoyable journey with no squabbling or arguing. The stories themselves are spellbinding and the way that Stephen Fry reads them adds an added dimension. Importantly it will not be only the children who enjoy them but also the parents. On a recent 400 mile journey I got quite concerned that we were going to arrive at our destination before the tape had finished and I was wondering when I was going to find time to listen to the ending, luckily it just finished in time. I have never been glad before to have been stuck in a traffic jam!. We have just bought the tape of the fourth book "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".It consists of 14 casettes and costs approx £40 . I can't wait till we go
on holiday so I get a chance to read it. PS if you don't like cassettes they are also available on CD
Apparently, I’ve been listening to another audiobook than the one presented here. My version, from the Listening Library, is called ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone’. The contents are the same (I guess), but somehow the title is not. Also, it is not read out loud by Stephen Fry, but a voice, similar to that of Richard Burton of ‘War of the Worlds’, but a bit more on the light side. I’ll continue as of this is the correct audiobook, but keep this in mind. By now, everyone has at least heard about the Harry Potter craze, and therefore I thought it became time I at least tried it out to form my own opinion. I got the audiobook of the first book, and tried it out. At first, you might be put off a bit, the start is not really the best part of the book. But when you get past that, it becomes much more ‘readable’. The book is told from the perspective of Harry Potter, and it therefore is therefore also limited to whatever he sees of the world surrounding him. Together with him, you’ll wonder on times whether he’ll be expelled or rewarded, feel lost when wandering in the corridors of the Wizzards’ school, be happy when he gets points for his school, and feel mistreated when Snape (a bad wizard, jou can spot him from miles away) deducts point for no apparent reason. However, don’t expect a literal masterpiece. Whatever the hype is all about, it is still a book aimed at kids. Adults can enjoy it, but only if they have the ability to change their mindset to that of a youngster. For me, that was no problem, because although I am 31 years old and pretend to be very grown-up, in heart I’m probably still in my puberty or something, enjoying pinball and videogames. I enjoyed the audiobook very much, even so much that I decided to go and buy the original book. (and probably the others in the series as well). The texts are read aat a nice spead, and well pron
ounced. I could easily follow the book, only having to rewind a part if I was distracted fr some reason. This is even more amazing, since Dutch is my mother language (as being from the Netherlands), and shows the quality of the tapes. I don’t have any kids yet, but at least I have some books to read to them when they arrive. (Remember, kids are the best reason to have fun with kid’s stuff yourself!) If you keep in mind that this is a kids’ book, and steer clear of the enormous hype surrounding this series, you might very well enjoy it. If you read it just to be part of the hype though, you might be disappointed (a bit) be cause you them probably lack the correct mindset for it.
Harry Potter is an orphaned child left to be raised by his cruel aunt and uncle. Harry finds out he is in fact a wizard and attends his first year at Hogwarts. The audio tape in my opinion brings the book to life as explained in the next two paragraphs. Have you ever wanted to hear what Harry's voice sounds like? well now you can with Stephen Fry's excelent reading of Harry Potter and the Philosiphers stone. Stephen does an uncanny impression of Hagrid the hogwarts game keeper and Albus Dumbledore, you'd think ahh.. thats how he would have sounded like to me. Stephen reads at a nice slow pace and he reads clearly too. Its a great tape for people who don't like the sort of tapes where the reader reads too fast or has music at the begining and end of the tape, as there is none!
The Harry Potter books The whole of the Harry Potter series is excellent. I think it is the amount of imagination contained within the books that make them stand out against all the competition. The characters are well written, with the added bonus that they have their own moments of weakness. As the main people are children, it must not be expected that they will act as adults, and the writer does not let us down. There are moments of tension created by them as well as by ‘the bad guys’, they have their own opinions and awkward scenes I can remember from school are re-created for us. Harry has times when he is completely alone, he is not simply surrounded by ‘yes’ people. As with all good fantasy, there are rules, not just for the school, but also in terms of casting spells. From these can be learned the dangerous consequences of acting emotionally (Ron and the slugs incident springs to mind!) and the importance of learning are also stressed. Hermione may be a swot but it is she that Harry turns to in times of trouble, making her knowledge invaluable. There are elements of mystery. What is the secret behind the Dark Arts teacher (I can see this is going to be a long-running theme, every term there is a new one)? Who is the Heir? Is Harry going to defeat Voldemort? Find the answers in the books! However, it must be remembered that these are written for children. As much as I may enjoy them, it has to be said my nieces enjoy them even more. If you want to keep two six-year olds (older and younger as well, I hope, but I can’t comment!) quiet for hours in the car, get the audiotapes. Stephen Fry is brilliant, capturing both the humour and the tension. The only time the girls spoke up (for literally two hours) was to make sure that we were going to put the next tape in. The only slight quibble I had was with the last book. Did anyone else find it a bit too dark?
From the first pages of this book to the last, your imagination takes off on a wild ride that you don't ever want to end. The characters and subplots are intriguing, funny, emotional, and everything in between. Well, for once, the hype doesn’t live up to the real thing. The world of Harry and his friends (and enemies) is a world that we would all like to escape to. Having read all four books that are currently out at this moment, this book serves as a more than capable entrance to a land filled with wizards and creature, not to mention Muggles! I would recommend this book to everybody, young and old.
This 6-tape, hours long audiobook was my family's introduction to Harry Potter - a Christmas present to the boys which we saved for our 6 hour drive up north for New Year.Even the boys' father, usually hard to impress with these things, listened spellbound as the now famous story of the boy who lived unfolded....... There is nothing about this which will disappoint - Stephen Fry reads impeccably well, with an incredible ability to portray everyone from Hagrid to Dudley, Harry to you-know-who with his wonderful vocal inflections and accents. Usually our drive up north is somewhat of a trial, and has never yet been passed in total silence except for a tape....but this one was...in fact as we drew up outside my parents house, we sat in the car for a good 5 minutes longer, listening for the end of the chapter.... Although we've now all read this book and the subsequent ones, the tape still gets put in regularly, and still elicits silence, an otherwise unusual occurrence in my car! Now I even have the kids I work with asking me to play the tape to them if I'm driving them home! If you have kids of an age to listen to this, it will transform your long car journeys! We loved it so much I've now bought The Chamber Of Secrets on tape too...I'm waiting for a long or tedious car journey to bring that one out for the first time!
For those of you who have not already read this (is there anyone who hasn’t) I won’t spoil the surprise. Harry Potter has fast become one of the most recognised names in the country, this story shows how deserved this fame is, with the combination of humour and storytelling, with an entirely unpredictable ending than is intrinsic to all of the Harry Potter book’s. “The Philosopher’s Stone” is the first time that we are introduced to the adventures of Harry, Ron and Harmione, and their now infamous archenemy Lord Voldemort. As with all of the Harry Potter Book’s this is suitable for all ages, whether you are still readying yourself for the turmoil that is school, to those in the throws of A-level English, even the most cynical and aged of us cannot fail to enjoy Harry Potter. The charming and intelligent voice of Stephen Fry reading this only contributes to the brilliance that is Harry Potter, I reccomend buying this tape for anybody who is either not a good reader or as something enjoyable to listen to in the car.
Here's a question - can an audio book live up to the way your imagination has caught the original book? In this case the answer is most definitely 'YES YES YES'. There is more than one version of the audio book on the market, but it is the Stephen Fry version that is so magical. Unabridged in 6 tapes, he paints a marvellous picture of the world J K Rowling has created and the characters come alive as a result of his amazing voice talents. One thing, I would still read the book first before embarking on this voyage but, if you are unable to do that, then this is a remarkable substitute. Talking of embarking on voyages, these tapes are absolutely perfect for entertaining children (and adults) on a long car journey - sit back and enjoy........