Today’s guest post from Heidi Russell visits my favorite aspect of Richard Armitage. He’s a fantastic actor who can say volumes without speaking, and yes, he’s good looking. But it all pales when confronted with his voice alone.
Every weekday between 2:30 at 3:15 p.m., Richard Armitage saves this Damsel in Distress from the boredom of excruciatingly long red lights, good-old Kentucky boys who dangerously cut me off in their rust-encrusted pick-up trucks and a line of minivans that snakes around an elementary school parking lot like Smaug’s reptilian tail.
Yes, ladies, I am ensconced in the knightly protection of The Voice … that baritone resonant voice that sends delicious tingles down our collective spines and straight into our sinews (don’t they say “sinews” a lot in romance novels? ;-) … as I listen to RA reading, Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell.
As long as RA continues to read, my car might as well be on auto pilot during that daily commute, and he might as well be at the steering wheel, telling me the story as he wends his way through traffic. (After all, I’ve seen him as Lucas North handling a sports car like it’s cornering on rails through London, so I’d have no reservations relinquishing my down-to-earth, practical Chevy on two-lane roads in horse country.)
I’ve heard people absolutely gush over RA’s reading of Lords of the North, but it wasn’t until someone sent me a copy as a gift that I fully comprehended the magnitude of his performance.
So without further ado, here are 10 reasons why this audio book has to go to the top of your must-listen-to list:
1. He makes you believe he’d be a great guy to hang out with … just by the way he delivers the story. You know that famous Guy of Gisborne smirk? You can hear it, just like you can feel that John Thornton smolder when RA turns his back. I bet he’s good at mixing martinis while he regales friends with stories, too. 2. He makes you laugh … with the one-two-punch flow of the dialog between characters. I can’t count how many times I’ve busted out laughing because of how this guy takes an ordinary sentence and infuses it with searing sarcasm. 3. He conjures an image of the main character’s fantastic physique … with his husky growls. Right out of the gate, I had an image of Sir Guy telling me this story … just with a different name. Black leather never looked so good in an audio book, let me tell you. 4. He leaves you craving for him to play Richard III … by the passion with which he story tells. After hearing RA give this book his all, I really do want him to achieve that dream to produce that particular film. 5. He oozes chivalry … with the way he reads passages about gingerly putting a woman’s fingers to his lips or tilting her chin to gently kiss her in the starlight. His mouth might taste like steak and whiskey, but I wouldn’t push him away, not after hearing those lines. 6. He delivers a top-rate professional performance … even though it’s “just a book,” not a stage or a 3-D IMAX film screen. Close your eyes, and you would hear the same passion delivered on Broadway or in a blockbuster film. Give the boy with the blue eyes an Oscar already. 7. He’s brainy … with his pronunciation of Saxon dialect and Danish accents. He jumps from character to character with so much skill that you’d think Derek Jacobi was one of the readers. 8. He exudes brute strength … in his reading of fight scenes. I bet there’s not a pickle jar in the world that this guy can’t open. 9. He exhibits taste and class … just in his decision to read this book. It’s jaw-drop writing, but it absolutely needed his polished performance to shine. 10. And finally, he’s sexier than Russell Crowe in “Gladiator” … Now I lusted after Russell Crowe for a good eight years after seeing that movie. So if I tell you that’s the case, just by listening to an audiobook, you’d better damn well take me seriously.
Can’t find Lords of the North on Amazon? I couldn’t, either. Hit your local library and ask them to order it for you. Or better yet, let’s petition Amazon to cough up some copies. It’s one of the most amazing audiobooks I’ve heard, and so far, it’s a wonder that I haven’t driven my car off the road listening to it.
Tarry no more, and get it today.
Thank you, that is all.
A few words about obtaining a copy of Lords of the North. There is more than one audio version of this book. The two most seen for sale are the one read by Richard Armitage and the one read by Jamie Glover. So if you see the book somewhere for purchase, make sure it’s the one you want. Also, Amazon sometimes has used copies of Richard’s version. They have one right now for $50. As soon as this post is made, that will probably be history, but hey, maybe not. You can go here to check it out.
AudioGo (BBC’s Audiobook division) is the original distributor, and awhile back they were so kind to send me several copies gratis. I gave away one of them, and I plan on doing giveaways for the rest. You can wait for that, or you can order online if you’re in the U.K. If you’re not in the U.K. you cannot order online but must call or write their offices to order (info at bottom of this page). They do not have rights to sell it online in the U.S. or some others countries. Just know that it takes them a while to ship, or it did the ones I originally ordered. But it’s so worth it! I did get some additional copies through a friend in the UK (thank you, friend. :D), and if you know someone there, you might be able to do the same; otherwise, be patient and wait for me to mount another giveaway. LOL!
If I learn anything else about it, I’ll let you know, or hopefully, some others will chime in. And if you contact AudioGo, will you tell them I sent you. Thanks. :D
More coming up soon about RA’s voice and his audiobook work with potential for more.
I’ve been thinking Harper Collins is “the powers that be.” This was my thought yesterday before posting, but I wanted to cover all the bases. Given the fact they’ve acquired the book rights, I can’t imagine they neglected to obtain rights to the audio book.
April 14, 2011
Attn: Audio Book Procurers
Harper Collins Publishing
Re: The reading of The Hobbit for release in conjunction with ‘The Hobbit’ movies
Dear Sirs or Madams:
Since my last letter to you, I realized I may have been unfair in assuming your interests are purely pecuniary. So I come with an appeal to your humanitarian inclinations, your desire for the greater good. The beauty of this proposal is it will not only create goodwill of the humanitarian kind, but it will make some so lighthearted and free that their purse strings will be opened wide — among other things.
Do you know what happens to women when Richard Armitage speaks? I will be happy to educate. He’s been known to make them write verse and fantasies, draw and paint pictures, create masterful videos, obviously take up blogging, but most notable has been his ability to make ovaries explode. Hopefully, I don’t need to put a fine point on that. Suffice to say he puts women in a good mood, and in case it’s not clear by my presence here, he is an addiction and we must get our fix. Yes, I admit that’s what this letter is really about. We need our fix and would love it if The Hobbit were available to help. Just think what this would do for the greater good to have that many smiling women.
In the meantime, I will be happy to send you samples of Richard’s work. This would be for the Madams since it would probably be lost on you Sirs.
Thank you for considering, and I am sure all of the significant others would thank you as well.
One of Richard’s fans who hopes you realize I’m teasing — unless you’re seriously considering!
P.S. Pssst, if you are already locked into someone else reading, could you get Richard for something else? We just want to hear him read. May I suggest this book which is in the public domain.
Talk at TheOneRing about the book ties-ins to ‘The Hobbit’ has trebled my passion for Richard Armitage to read the book! But I fear it will never happen. More than likely the contracts have been signed, and Peter Jackson, or Harper Collins or Middle-Earth Enterprises, or whoever is considered “the powers that be” have selected a more well-known reader. I so want to be wrong about this, but my infernal gut is rather dismal today. So this post is a vent. Or maybe I’m looking for someone with a positive outlook.
If it would make a difference, I would raise an issue on an LOTR site or two. I suspect they would probably dismiss me as nothing but a rabid fan with little or no objectivity. And to that I would ask: have you listened to the man’s voice?!
Oh well, in lieu of pestering the Tolkien fans, maybe a fake fan letter to alleviate my angst?
Dear Sir Peter or Harper Collins or MEE, Anyone with any sense:
The thought of Richard Armitage reading The Hobbit is sheer bliss only to be exceeded by the thought of his reading North and South…………………. Oh, sorry, I blacked out for a moment. Ahem. You really need to know that every book he’s read is wonderful. I may sound like a silly fan who would be happy with his reading of the phone book, but you would be wrong. On second thought, you might be right since I would be willing to pay money to hear that. You read that right. I would pay bucks for that. There might be a few others who feel the same. :D
And you do know more women buy books than men? I’ll give some documentation if you need it. Somehow I think you already know this. But more than that, have you heard the man reading a book? Then what are you waiting for? He is perfect. Yes, I know what I’m talking about, and someone is going to eventually cash in. Why not you and why not now?
Thank you for considering,
One of Richard’s fans who knows what women like and would love to help you make some money more money.
P.S. I realize you may not be the bottom line, Sir Peter, but hope you have some influence in this matter or at the least could have Richard reading some phone book entries in the next vlog. ;-) Surely that wouldn’t violate any contracts or anyone’s privacy — especially if the names are fake. Hmmm. My mind is flooding with the possibilities. Really, I don’t care what you have him say. Just let him say something in the next video!
P.P.S I’ve never written a post script so long, but hell, this is worth it.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Richard Armitage’s audio work, I have several samples in my FanstRAvaganza pieces from last year including RA doing American, and you can find additional excerpts here and here.
Also, I still have a little stockpile of audiobooks to give away. Some are courtesy of the BBC, and I have to say again how much I appreciate that! Need to get on the giveaway since SO keeps wondering why they’ve been on his desk for over a year.
Note: the wrap-up piece I promised is coming. Since that may be the most important writing I publish on this blog, I want to get it right.
Please click to see list of participating bloggers
Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of you beyond your public comments, and that has been one of the greatest parts of being a fan of Richard Armitage. Yes, I keep saying this, but it can’t be said enough! Let me put it like this. I’m thrilled that I jumped into this madness known as the RA fandom. What awesome, awesome people so many of you are, and now it’s my pleasure to share someone with the rest of you whom you may not know much about even if you’ve seen her comments here or there. Oh, and sometime in the near future you’ll be the recipient of some fun I have planned, which I could not have done without her help. I now think of her as a “partner in crime” ;-), Kaprekar.
So, Kap, have to ask you the requisite question. How did you become a fan?
I first saw Richard Armitage when he was revealed at the beginning of Spooks Series 7. ‘North and South’ completely passed me by, which is strange for me as I usually make an effort to watch new period dramas. It may have been something to do with having a six month old baby at the time! I had rather different priorities!
I watched the whole series and thought he was interesting and quite good looking. The series was a definite return to form, but other than that he made no particular impression on me. Roll on a year, and shortly before Spooks 8 started to air, I was searching YouTube for some clips of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Persuasion’ and lo and behold, here was this ‘North and South’ thing popping up all the time. Eventually I watched one of the clips and was soon watching the whole thing on YouTube. I guess once I realised that the tall dark and handsome cotton mill owner John Thornton was the same actor as the mysterious Lucas North in Spooks, I decided I needed to investigate further…
It didn’t take me too long to find these strange things called “fanvids” on YouTube, and I also found references to something called the “Armitage Army” and from one of the fanvids, Sexy Back, a reference to something else called C19. So I joined that forum, but found it rather overwhelming, and I couldn’t seem to find the ‘North and South’ board (very strange!). It was several weeks before I went back to investigate properly. In the meantime I watched the rest of Spooks 8, and between that and ‘North and South’ (now bought on DVD), I was a goner!
Those fanvids really should come with a warning. LOL! I wonder how much the fan community has heightened your interest since then?
It’s definitely heightened my interest. I joined several forums, C19 is my favourite, perhaps because I joined it first. It’s a wonderful community of ladies that is simply one of the best places I have ever found on the internet. I’ve also ventured onto blogs and Twitter, and I still find it astounding that there is so much activity out there about this one actor…I mean how many blogs are there that post regularly about him – ten? fifteen?
It was about fifteen or so at last count, but I think it’s increased since FanstRAvaganza started. LOL! Sorry to keep laughing, but well, I really am laughing. I can’t help it as it’s always fun to hear how others bite the dust. :D But what do you think about Twitter’s part in all of this?
Twitter has also been an enormously rewarding experience for me, in terms of reaching out to other fans. But with all these social networking opportunities, you get out what you put in, and sometimes I find it very hard to find the time to do everything I want to do, and go everywhere I want to go, as often as I want to. That may not make much sense!
It makes perfect sense!
Changing the subject a bit. I understand you play the piano and the flute. Is that still a significant part of your life?
I am a pianist first and foremost, and I played regularly up until we had to give our piano back to the person it belonged to a couple of years ago! Sad day! But I am working on getting my daughter to learn, so we will have to get something in that case. I learned the flute at school, so that is more “in the past” but it enabled me to play in orchestras and ensembles which was a fun thing to do. I was never good enough to play either the piano or flute professionally though, or even consider going to music college. I won’t admit to exactly how many years I have been playing the piano, but it’s a few decades!! I think I read that Richard played the flute too!
Yep, he does! Or did. I’m not sure where he stands with that now. Would be lovely to know.
I have to ask what are your favorite kinds of music? I don’t even care if it’s RA related. It’s always something I want to know from everyone!
When I was a child I listened to classical music almost exclusively – I think that is just what we had on in our house. I also used to record myself playing the piano and listen to that. In fact I was just reminded that I also used to record myself reading poems when I was a child. When I went away to boarding school, I began to listen to pop and rock music, the popular bands of the 80s such as The Police, and Duran Duran, and Madness (showing my age there!) just what was in the charts, and I explored music past and present from there. I became a massive fan of Prince in the late 80s. I have also become a fan of the music from musicals e.g. Oklahoma and Singing in the Rain.
But from the time I left university and started work, I lost touch with new music and tended to listen to my old stuff. It’s only recently (and completely down to my interest in Richard and the fan videos I have watched I may say) that I have started to listen to new(ish) music again, and I am finding it as interesting as exploring the music of the 60s and 70s in my youth. Muse is one example, but I am really still exploring.
I also understand that you take acting classes. I would love to hear about that! And of course how it may have changed your views of or helped you appreciate more the work that’s done by Richard Armitage.
I started taking the class about a year ago. It’s just a local acting workshop with about 10–15 regular participants. I joined because I wanted to develop my inter-personal and communication skills more for the sake of my work than anything else, and I have found business communications courses either not very useful or not able to meet my needs. But I think I may have missed my calling, because I find it just the most interesting and fun thing to do! It’s also really hard! Everything that you say or do during a scene has to be thought about beforehand. And there are so many things to think about – from basic stuff like making sure that you are facing the audience, and that they can see your face, to harder things like thinking about your character and what they are thinking about and wanting in a particular scene, say.
What is particularly interesting and surprising to me is the amount of improvisation involved in acting (or developing as an actor), and how it starts off being terrifying but then, after you get used to it, it becomes something that is really enjoyable and something that you just have to throw yourself into. Also it’s often what you are doing when you have no lines at all to say that reveals most about your character. It feels like teetering on the precipice of something – you feel like you are going to go over the edge but you just manage to stay on. I also think it’s important to keep trying different ways of doing the same thing and not be afraid to do something where you feel foolish – in fact you have to commit – because faking it just doesn’t work.
This is making me appreciate RA’s work slightly differently (and similarly the work of other actors), in that I am becoming more aware of the work that must have gone into any given scene and that there are usually several ways in which to play a scene, and the choices that the actors and the director made have a big impact on the final result. But it’s early days for me still, and I am learning all the time, I am just beginning to really appreciate how powerful it can be to slow down, and pause and find special moments when you connect with another character.
In that vein, has being a fan had an effect on your general creativity?
Well, I don’t do graphics or fanvids or write fanfiction or anything like that…so I can’t lay claim to being more creative in those respects. But being a fan has led to a reigniting of my love of reading, something that I haven’t been unable to indulge myself in so much since starting a family. Reading North and South, Heyer, Bernard Cornwell and also fanfic has made me remember all those feelings I had when I found good books for the first time. I was not a Heyer fan before listening to the audio books, I tried a couple as a teenager, but they always seemed to be very lightweight reads, and I gave up quickly. I think I should have stuck with it, because I realise now how some of them are gems in their own right, though the language is quite…interesting at times…and they are essentially light reads. But since listening to Sylvester and Venetia, more particularly, I have picked up a few others and am working my way through – but there are lots of them I have to say! Will take me quite a while.
Ah yes, the audio books. LOL! As you know, I’m covering RA’s voice work, so I’m really curious what is your favorite?
For audio work as a whole I would have to say the ‘Words and Music’ poems, particularly Preludes by T. S. Eliot.
I have listened to them hundreds of times, literally. They are like spoken songs to me. Aside from the lovely, earthy, gravelly voice, I suppose I like them so much because of the pacing and rhythm of his reading and because of the beautiful expression and meaning that he uses in every word like when he says “flickered” you can just imagine the light flickering on the ceiling. And when he says “short, square fingers stuffing pipes” I see it happening, in my mind.
But for audio books, my favourite would be The Lords of the North.
Oh my! It’s definitely my favorite too, and I defy anyone to listen to even a few minutes of it and not come away wanting to listen to the whole thing and in spite of it being about a very violent period of history. Listening to it turned me into an audio book lover. There is only one problem. I’m spoiled to his narration. He has set a high standard for me, and now I want to hear him reading countless books. Is there anything in particular you would love to hear him read?
Well of course I would love Richard to read North and South. Wouldn’t we all? But I have more or less accepted that this will never happen. So I would personally love to hear Richard read The Hobbit, and I have not given up hope that this might happen. Of course the obvious person to read that audiobook would be Martin Freeman, and he has done audio books before (e.g. he read a version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, another movie he starred in), but…you never know…I live in hope.
I’m with you, and maybe he should read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy! We may have to start a campaign. :D
You know I’ve shared others’ recordings of what they think of RA and how he’s affected them. I’m happy you agreed to share yours as well:
Kap is married with two young children and obviously hails from the UK where she still lives.
For those who listened to the excerpt of Lords of the North and are now curious to listen to the entire book, or if you already love it and would just like to have your own audio book or an additional book, I have two to give away. The books are courtesy of AudioGo (BBC Audio Books) and rules for the giveaway are found here. Good luck! :)