Or, An Audiobook Narrator Comes One Step Closer To Finishing The Second Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant
By Scott Brick
Despite being the fifth installment in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The One Tree was actually the very first volume I ever saw with my own eyes. But sadly, I didn’t pick it up right away. A good friend of mine had been reading the series faithfully since its inception, and when he saw the book in our local mall’s B. Dalton, he about lost his mind. “It’s been two years since the last one came out!” he said to me, at which point I shook my head in wonder and decided that this series just wasn’t for me.
“Who in the world could wait years to continue a story…?” I asked, clearly lost in the glories of instant gratification.
Heh heh, silly me. Little did I know those two short years would be nothing compared to the wait I had in store. It’s now thirty-four years later and I still have yet to finish translating Stephen R. Donaldson’s epic fantasy to audiobook format. But that’s okay, I’m one step closer, and so are you. The One Tree is on sale today, and I’m grateful beyond words.
Upon its publication in 1982, The One Tree gave us our first indication that there was land beyond The Land: other realms like Bhrathairealm and the Sandhold, and other races like the eldritch Elohim. So many bread crumbs that had been scattered throughout the first four books of the Chronicles led us to the feast found by Starfare’s Gem across the wide seas, and with every new shore Thomas Covenant, Linden Avery and The Quest reached, it left me breathless for more.
It’s funny, but I can remember with absolutely clarity the excitement I felt burning within me during the summer of 1984 as I read this book for the first time, knowing not only that the Second Chronicles would culminate with the next volume in the series, but that that installment went by the evocative title White Gold Wielder. That name alone promised a fiery resolution to the story that left me breathless with anticipation. And now, thirty-two years later, as I prepare to narrate that culmination on audio, I feel that same edgy eagerness and cannot wait to dive in.
It’s funny, but those who know me well are aware that narrating certain books are more challenging than others, and are therefore a great deal more work than your average audiobook. The word list for a title set in China that I worked on a few years ago, for example, reached well over 150 words, all of which needed to be practiced before I said them, requiring me to stop recording, practice several times, then make various choppy attempts that would likely need extensive editing in order to make them appear to fall trippingly off my tongue. In short, such books significantly cut into my productivity and work flow, and whenever I work on them, those close to me typically express their empathy, saying how sorry they are that I’m facing such
challenges. And there have been quite a few friends and family members who’ve wandered down to my studio in recent months and seen the massive word list I’ve assembled for the Chronicles—a compilation that not only lists the 408 words, names and phrases made up by Donaldson, such as Caerroil Wildwood, rhadhamaerl and Victuallin Tayne, but the even longer list of archaic English words Donaldson loves that I keep on hand to remind me of the meaning and how to pronounce such obscure words as desuetude, lacustrine and spavined. (My favorite Donaldson phrase of all time? “But later he grew still, drifted into visionary fields—dew-bedizened leas decked with eglantine and rue.” Nobody turns an archaic phrase like SRD!) What’s funny is the look of horror on people’s faces when they see this massive word list, then offer me their sympathies for having to work on such a difficult series, only to then hear me loudly protest, “Are you kidding? This is my favorite series of all time, all this extra work is a JOY…!”
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to prep the final installment in the Second Chronicles, White Gold Wielder, which will be available exclusively here at Brick by Brick Audiobooks on December 1, 2016. And if it, too, contains such Donaldson favorites as brachiation, feoffment and unhermeneuticable, or perhaps actinic, chancrous, glauconite, mansuetude or oriflamme, that’s okay, I’m ready for them. Such words may slow me down, but that just means I get to spend more time in The Land, so I am a happy man.