Saxons Never Sounded So Good

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.


  1. Completely agree…

  2. Hi, ladies. Firstly, thank you for the post – I thoroughly enjoyed the comments both of you made.

    Just so no one from Australia gets discouraged, you can order this audiobook online at AudioGo – or, at least, you could a year ago. And it doesn’t take long to get it either.

    [OT. I find the same with purchases from – sorry,, but I get my DVDs, etc. faster from the UK than from the US. But I have no complaints about the US branch – some things are available only from there and that’s perfectly OK with me – eg. “Malice Aforethought”]

    Yes, the audiobook of LOTN is expensive. But next time you’re at your local library or in a bookstore, check the prices charged for audiobooks. They can be anything from $15 to $150 in Australia!

    If I remember correctly, LOTN was $50-$60, including postage

  3. I think I paid $22.50 + about $7-$8 for postage, and worth every penny!

  4. I have Lords of the North saved on my iPod to listen to later as a reward to myself once I finish my current project. I have listened to all of Richard’s other audiobooks: The Robin Hoods and the Georgette Heyers, and I have to say he’s one of the best audiobook readers on the planet. He does such a wonderful job differentiating the characters and his female voices are so pleasant that sometimes you forget he’s a guy (except you don’t because he’s Richard and Richard is all male *drool*) :)

    I agree with Heidi on all points. :-D

  5. Great post! I have been listening to “Far From the Madding Crowd” on audiobook the past several days – read by Nathaniel Parker (Inspector Lynley Mysteries) – and I do have to agree that a well-read (preferably British) actorly narration makes ALL the difference in the enjoyment of the book.

    That said, I still haven’t heard an RA-narrated audiobook, and THIS MUST CHANGE.

  6. Definitely needs to change asap! :D

  7. I live in Canada and was able to order Lords of the North from AudioGo last month. I had it within 2 weeks and I agree with all 8 of your reasons as to why it should be the top of everyone’s list!

  8. So let me amend my earlier statement. If you know someone, somewhere in the British Empire, you might be able to prevail on their good nature to order a copy for you. :D

  9. The only thing I should note is that I DON’T listen to it if my child is in the car. LOL! It had a “warning” on the label, and as I’m in disc 5 and still have 5 to go, I assume there are some racy scenes ahead. In that case, I’d better not listen to it while driving.

  10. It’s the violence more than anything.

  11. I ordered my Lords of the North on line through AudioGo in January of 2011 and had no problem getting it. It cost 29.57 in UK Pounds but I forget how much that was in Cdn $’s or the exchange rate at the time. However much I paid it was worth every cent! As has been said before it isn’t just a narration it’s a performance!

    Until then all I had listened to were the three Georgette Heyer ones and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it. How wrong I was! You completely forget it is only one person who is reading as he brings each character to life in such an unforgettable way.

    I read some time ago of a lady who was listening to the CD’s in her vehicle and it came to a tense scene while stopped at a light or something and she shouted out, “OH NO!!” A guy in the vehicle next to her asked if she was okay! She explained that she was listening to an audiobook and the guy commented, “That must be one H*** of a book”! or words to that effect! I know how she felt. :)

    BTW, lovemrthornton, don’t worry, it’s not racy but it has strong language as well as the violence and the tension he manages to generate with his voice alone is quite exhausting! ;)

  12. That’s hilarious, Teuchter. I was telling a few folks on Twitter yesterday that during my commute to the school, I threw my purse in the back seat, and somehow, the action triggered my CELL PHONE to dial one of my buddies who is a CEO at a hospital. The thing left him a VOICEMAIL. When he opened it, he could just hear RA reading for about 10 minutes. He listened to the entire thing and emailed me, thinking I’d done it on purpose, then said something like, “I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks in my time, but that guy is GREAT!”

    It’s hilarious. Even my cell phone is recruiting men to be new RA fans. Go figure.

  13. Running to the library in 3…2…1….

  14. You have one VERY smart “Smart Phone” !! :) AND a very perceptive buddy, if I may say! ;)

  15. Haha, smart phones are getting smarter and smarter. It was a little embarrassing, b/c apparently the call interrupted an important business meeting. :-D

  16. So was the RA reading coming from the phone?

  17. No, it was that I was playing the CD in my car, and the phone hit the redial, it went into voicemail, and my buddy picked up about 10 minutes of the reading as I was listening to it in traffic.


  18. Frenz & Heidi,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Little by little I am becoming more familiar with RA’s work ( thanks to Frenz) and I’ve come to appreciate his talent. I’ll have to purchase the audiobook.

    BTW, do either of you know if he has done any audiobooks that are appropriate for children? As Frenz knows, I have a twelve year old daughter who is dyslexic and she loves to listen to audiobooks.

  19. My son’s cell went through a phase of calling me! My phone would ring, I’d answer it and hear my son talking in the background while going over blue-prints and things. I tried yelling his name, whistling etc. all to no avail. I eventually called him and left a voice-mail message saying I thought that his cell must REALLY like me as it kept calling me all by itself. :) He enjoyed the joke! :D

  20. Hey Leticia, thanks for the question.

    RA did about five (was it five, guys?) readings for the show CBeeBies, and you can call those up easily by doing a Web search.

    Here’s the interesting thing about it — although the show is for younger children, my child really loves it. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and although he is very intelligent, he is emotionally and socially very “young.”

    For several years, I’ve had difficulty getting him to sleep, and then I discovered these CBeeBies readings. One night, I called them up for his bedtime routine, and he was absolutely mesmerized. I’m not sure if it’s because of RA’s voice or delivery … but he has a VERY soothing effect on my child.

    This was in the midst of extreme bullying that he was experiencing at his school, by the way. He would be so upset, but then he’d watch these videos and just turn over and BAM! He’d go right to sleep.

    He has a speech impediment, so he calls RA, “Mistah Wichahd,” and he’ll say, “Mom, tonight I’d weally like to heah Mistah Wichahd wead.”

    All I can say is, I’m eternally grateful to the man, even though I’ll probably never meet him. It’s just such a gift. You might want to check into it.

  21. That is so lovely! “Mistah Wichahd” is one special guy and from watching the CBeebies myself I can see why your son finds him soothing. I think he would love to hear about this as I think he is very fond of kids. Remember how great he said it was when a couple of 14 year old boys came up to him at the Children’s BAFTA’s after RH and asked if they could give him a hug? He seemed very touched.

    Ali at RANet has very good quality videos of the CBeebies, btw, that can be downloaded. Better than some of them on YT.

  22. Thank you for the recommendation. Oh, how precious to hear that your son would fall asleep listening to the videos :) I definitely need to look into it!

    BTW, my daughter has also experienced bullying and as a mother it’s heart wrenching. However, the bullying has stopped( thank God), but it caused her to immerse herself into literature( especially anything J.R.R Toilken) ………which is ironic because she’s dyslexic, but that where the audiobooks come into play :D

  23. That’s cool, Leticia. It is amazing how stories can soothe children. I’m glad your daughter has found Tolkien. We love the Narnia chronicles here, too.

    As an aside, I pulled my child out of the public school this year and changed life around so that I could afford to send him to a private school. We’re 3 weeks into it, and he is having a blast! It was really worth it. And in the meantime, it was great that RA’s voice was what calmed him down on days that were extremely tough for him.

  24. For those interested, Ali has both formats of CBeebies (video and mp3):

  25. And now I’m on my way out the door to take a kid to volleyball practice and to meet with a client. Yea, Me. That means more work. Yes! :D

  26. Hi Leticia

    I hope these links to the audiobooks of LOTR work:

  27. What happened to the comment I left here a few minutes ago? It was on here and now it’s gone????

  28. and now it’s back again! there must be gremlins in WordPress again today

  29. When there’s more than one link WP thinks it’s spam.

  30. I had to approve the comment, and now if anyone else has two links, I can’t approve until I get back. See you all later.

  31. I totally agree with this post. Lords of the North was great and helped me drive a long commute with happiness. I now want to read the other books in the series and imagine RA narrating them. I also learned a lot about pacing and chapter breaks from Bernard Cornwell. And yes, the story is more violent than racy, although the middle ages weren’t kind to women and there a lot of matter of fact references of violence done to women.

  32. Thank you for a great post. I have thinking of getting Lords of the North for some time now, must look into that. I have two of the Georgette Hayer audio books which I really like. Son 1 even said that Richard does girl voices really well. I have got all the Robin Hood audio books also. It is great to compare how well they each do and Richard is by far the best. Robin Hood is big in our house and son 2 wanted all six of them. The Robin Hood audio books are great for children also.

  33. Sorry I should have wrote I have been thinking of getting Lords of the North for some time now, I must look into getting them. I even proof read what I wrote.

  34. You’re in good company, but if I thought about all of my messed up comments, I would run myself nuts. Relax. We all knew what you meant. :D

  35. It’s all about this thing I have about trying not to mess up or looking like I do. I took a keyboarding class online this summer and had a hard time with the errors that I made. So more practice on that keyboarding I need.

  36. Thank you kathyngaul! However, my daughter has already listened to all of the LOTR and Hobbit audiobooks(she’s a Toilken geek), but I appreciate the link.

    Heidi, so happy to hear your son is enjoying his new school! BTW, I viewed one of the CBeeies on YouTube and I couldn’t stop laughing( in a good way). The video was adorable :)

    Frenz, thank you for the email and the audiobook recommendations :D

  37. RA is much better than Jacobi in his audio book narration. I’m listening to Jacobi narrating a Cadfael book at the moment and was thinking how it lacked the individual characterisation that Richard develops.

  38. That’s a neat observation, Pam. I always have had Jacobi as my “gold standard actor” since high school, when I had this phenomenal English teacher who really got me into watching Jacobi do Shakespeare.

    Maybe the baton has officially been passed to the Lad from Leicester.

  39. I was a big fan of Derek Jacobi in the 1980’s when I saw many of the plays he did with the RSC but now his style seems rather affected and mannered. I saw him play Malvolio about three years ago, which he won award for, and I thought, what’s the fuss about? Times change (or at least I do!),

  40. @frenz I did originally ordered that amazon copy (note the one star is from me :) I was refunded and donated that copy to the library, which oddly enough was the ONLY one missing in the series (on audio)

  41. Sorry, Fran, maybe it’s because I’ve only just woken up, but I don’t understand your comment.

    What audiobook did you buy from Amazon and then donate to your library, please? What series do you mean?

  42. @kathryn follow the amazon link Frenz provides, that’s what I first bought, I must add I failed to double check if she indeed had the version narrated by RA, the seller refunded me and let me even keep the Jamie Glover copy which my library happily accepted.

  43. […] Reasons to love Lords of the North. […]

  44. […] on about this book. I’ve already done it several times and so have some others both here and here. And all the gushing was entirely […]

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