Audiobook Review: Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers

16 03 2012

Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures: A Novel in Two Books by Walter Moers

Translated by John Brownjohn

Read by Bronson Pinchot

Blackstone Audio

Length: 24 Hrs 4 Min

Genre: Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: This novel reads like Shel Silversteins cleverest poems, and it will remind readers of my generation of classics like The Phantom Tollbooth. While every situation and every character doesn’t always work, taking the story together in it’s entirety Rumo & his Miraculous Adventure offers everything a good fantasy should, a heroic quest, a touch of romance, an unlikely hero, bizarre but wonderful characters, and outrageous moments that will have you on the edge of the seat laughing uproariously.

Grade: B+

This title is a 2012 Audie Award Nominee in the Fantasy Category.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I am participating in an event called The Armchair Audies. A Group of bloggers will be taking on the task of listening to the nominees for categories of The Audie Awards, which recognized the best in Audiobooks. I will be listening to the nominees in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal categories. One thing I’m excited about is the opportunity to listen to some Audiobooks that were never really on my radar. I spend a lot of time searching through Audiobooks companies and publications trying to find a good variety to listen to and review, yet I know I miss out on many wonderful audiobooks. Rumo & and His Miraculous Adventures was never on my radar. If it wasn’t for The Armchair Audies, I would have never even considered listening to this tale. In fact, despite the amount of time I spend on Blackstone Audio’s website, I had never even heard of this or any of Walter Moer’s Zamonian tales. Yet, now I can honestly say that, when I get the chance, I will be checking out the other audiobooks in this series. For that, I most thank the Armchair Audies.

Like many classic Fantasy tales, Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures is about the rise of an unlikely hero. Yet, while Rumo shares many characteristic with the traditional orphaned farm boy trope, he has one great difference. Rumo is a Wolperting, an intelligent dog/deer hybrid. Wolpertings are known throughout Moer’s fantasy world of Zamonia as fierce warriors, who are skilled fighters, but never really heroes. The tale of Rumo is told in a middle grade, almost Mother Goose like fashion, yet is rich in sardonic adult humor, and with witty word play and twisting of genre rules, this is a novel that adults will not only appreciate, but grow to love. As I began to listen to Rumo, I was instantly taken by the world. It felt like I was being told a story by someone who knew how to spin a yarn as only those raised on the oral tradition can do. Yet, this is quite a long tale, and the novelty of the world begins to lose some of it’s glamour as the story progresses.  Rumo’s saving grace is its plethora of amusing, unique and wonderful characters. Rumo himself is sort of bland, and if the tale stayed strictly on him you would have been left feeling cold, but the variety of wonderful characters, from major players like The Shark Grub Volzotan Smyke and chief nemesis General Tick-Tock, to smaller characters like a witch who can only predict the past, and a king who mixes up his syllables when speaking bring heart, humor and a feeling of wonder to the tale. In many ways, the story reads like Shel Silverstein’s cleverest poems, and it will remind readers of my generation of classics like The Phantom Tollbooth. While every situation and every character doesn’t always work, taking the story together in it’s entirety Rumo & his Miraculous Adventure offers everything a good fantasy should, a heroic quest, a touch of romance, an unlikely hero, bizarre but wonderful characters, and outrageous moments that will have you on the edge of the seat laughing uproariously.

Listening to Bronson Pinchot’s narration of Rumo will instantly show you why he is one of the best narrators out there. Pinchot does one thing in the reading of Rumo that only the best narrators can pull off, each time the perspective shifts to a new character, Pinchot alters his delivery of the Prose to match that of the character. So when we are hearing from Professor Ostafan Kolibri, the pace picks up with an almost frantic cadence, but when the story shifts to General Tick-Tock Pinchot’s reading becomes almost mechanical. Listeners will truly be amazed at some of the things that Pinchot pulls off in this tale, and it’s obvious why it’s nominated for an Audie Award. Yet there are some issues with the overall production. Pinchot delivers the many characters brilliantly. The sheer numbers of character, many with weird verbal quirks, must have been daunting. The problem was though, that the reading may have been too true to some of the characters, particularly that of Dandelion, Rumo‘s talking sword. Dandelion is the Jar Jar Binks of this tale, he is an annoying character with an annoying voice that seems to serve no real purpose other than to give Rumo someone to talk to when he is alone. Pinchot captures him perfectly, which is to say his voice is high, squeaking and especially grating. This would be OK, if Dandelion was a minor character, but he appears for a significant portion of the story. I found myself lowering the volume and, like Rumo, praying that Dandelion would just shut the heck up. Yet, this is my only real complaint. There are some clever tricks used by both Pinchot and the production staff that really bring this tale to life and does it justice. If you can get past the annoying Dandelion, you will really enjoy this tale.

Note: A Special Thanks to the good people of Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.