Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants have been given a freebie topic, meaning that they can do a list on whatever interests them. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about something I am very passionate about, audiobooks. In particular, I am going to have a crack at listing my favourite top ten audiobook narrators.
Readers of my blog will know that I have a particular love for the audiobook format, and it is one of my favourite ways to enjoy a good book (I’m listening to one now as I put this post up). I have long loved audiobooks, going all the way back to my childhood when I had Goosebumps books on cassette tape. While I eventually grew out of these series (and cassette tapes), my appreciation for audiobooks has remained, and I have become even more fond of them in recent years, due to how easy and accessible audiobooks are these days. As such, I have had the great pleasure of listening to some outstanding audiobook in the last few years, and I honestly find myself enjoying some books a hell of a lot more in this format.
One of the main reasons why I have so much fun with audiobooks is because a lot of them have outstanding narrators who excel at telling the story or bringing the characters to life. A great narrator can turn a good book into something truly magical, while boring narrators can ruin even the most compelling stories. Over the years I have found myself becoming a big fan of several talented narrators due to their ability to make every story they read incredibly awesome with their impressive range. Some of these narrators have been so good that I have followed them to other books and series, as I know that I am going to have a great time with whatever they are reading. As a result, I thought it was about time that I highlighted my absolute favourites of these on this blog.
To pull this list together, I sifted through the best narrators I have listened and tried to work out who I enjoy listening to the most. While there were a couple of great narrators I have enjoyed once or twice, my list tended to focus on those narrators whose work I have heard multiple time. I ended up pulling together a descent list, which I was able to cull down into a good top ten list with a generous honourable mentions section. The end result turned out pretty good, and I liked the cool cross section of genres and narrators that this list contained. So, let us see who made the cut.
Scott Brick – Orphan X and Cotton Malone series
Scott Brick is the narrator of two awesome thriller series, the Orphan X and Cotton Malone books. I have listened to several great books narrated by Brick, including Into the Fire and Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz, and The Malta Exchange, The Warsaw Protocol and The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry, all of which were fantastic and compelling listens.
Jim Dale – Harry Potter series
I had to include actor Jim Dale somewhere on this due to his outstanding work narrating the Harry Potter audiobooks. While Stephen Fry also did a version, I have only had the pleasure of listening to Dale’s version, and it is such an outstanding way to enjoy this iconic series.
Jonathan Keeble – Trollslayer series
I have recently enjoyed Jonathan Keeble’s work on the Trollslayer series by William King, set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. I have so far listened to three of these books, Trollslayer, Skavenslayer and Daemonslayer, and each of these has featured some impressive voice work, especially around the main characters. I am planning to check out more Warhammer novels narrated by Keeble soon, which should be a lot of fun.
I also needed to highlight a rising audiobook narrator who has done some awesome books lately, Emily Woo Zeller. Zeller came to my attention when she voiced the titular character in the outstanding Star Wars: Doctor Aphra audio drama, perfectly capturing this outstanding and complex protagonist. This amazing performance, as well as her work in Cyber Shogun Revolution, really impressed me, and I look forward to seeing what Zeller will do in the future.
Top Ten List (unranked):
Ray Porter – Joe Ledger and Rogue Team International series
The first entry on this list is the incredible Ray Porter, a narrator whose work I am deeply enjoying. While Porter has narrated an amazing number of books, I know him primarily through his collaboration with author Jonathan Maberry. Porter has narrated most of Maberry’s novels over the years, and they are an impressive and captivating team. I particularly enjoyed Porter’s work in Maberry’s Joe Ledger series (which includes books like Assassin’s Code, Code Zero, and Dogs of War) and the sequel Rogue Team International series (featuring Rage and Relentless), as Porter always perfectly fits into the skin of the titular protagonist. I also really enjoyed his work on the standalone horror novel Ink, which was one of the best audiobooks of 2020, and I am particularly keen to check out more novels narrated by Porter.
R. C. Bray – Planetside series and The Dark
Another fantastic narrator whose work I have been appreciating lately is R. C. Bray, who has lent his voice to some amazing audiobooks. I first came across Bray through his work on Michael Mammay’s Planetside series, including Planetside and Colonyside (one of the best audiobooks from the first half of 2021). Bray did an outstanding job on these science fiction military thrillers, and his gruff voice was perfect for the veteran soldier the series followed. However, Bray can also voice some other unique characters, a fact I recently discovered when I listened to the wildly entertaining horror novel, The Dark by Jeremy Robinson. In this book, Bray voiced a stoner character who finds himself leading the fight against a horde of invading demons. Not only did Bray really get into this different protagonist, but he helped to turn The Dark into one of the best audiobooks of the year. I look forward to checking out more from Bray in the future, especially as he has already narrated a ton of books by Robinson that sound really cool.
James Marsters – Dresden Files series
The next entry on this list is someone who I was a fan of well before I enjoyed their audiobook work, actor James Marsters. Best known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Marsters has also provided his voice to the audiobook versions of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series by Jim Butcher. I found this out last year when I listened to the awesome latest entry in the series, Battle Ground, and I instantly fell in love with Marsters’ take on the various characters. Marsters really dived into the role of titular protagonist Harry Dresden, and I appreciated all the cool voices he did throughout this novel. When I decided to go back and check out the earlier entries in this series, I was very excited to see that Marsters narrated all these prior audiobooks as well, so it was an easy choice to check them out in audiobook as well. I have so far enjoyed another four Dresden Files novels, Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril and Summer Knight, and each of them has featured some exceptional voice work from Marsters, which is really worth checking out.
Robert Petkoff – Star Trek audiobooks
Each year there are a ton of Star Trek tie-in novels released, all of which get adapted to audiobook. Of these multiple Star Trek books, nearly all feature the voice of Robert Petkoff. Petkoff has an excellent voice for Star Trek, especially as he can perfectly replicate most of the Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. I have already listened to a great number of his Star Trek audiobooks including More Beautiful Than Death by David Mack, Agents of Influence by Dayton Ward, The Unsettling Stars by Alan Dean Foster, Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack and The Captain’s Oath by Christopher L. Bennett, just to name a few. I currently have several of his audiobooks currently loaded up on my phone, and I will hopefully listen to some of them soon.
Marc Thompson – Star Wars audiobooks
Moving from Star Trek to Star Wars the next narrator I need to highlight is the outstanding Marc Thompson. Thompson is a wonderfully talented narrator who has been lending his voice to some of the best Star Wars tie-in novels out there, and perfectly bringing them to life. I love the outstanding range of characters that he can voice, including those from the films, characters from the animated shows, and new characters never seen on screen. I am a particular fan of the voice he uses for the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, as he perfectly captures the character’s complexities, especially in books like Thrawn, Chaos Rising and Greater Good by Timothy Zahn. Other impressive examples of his voice work can be seen in the audiobook versions of Scoundrels, Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule and The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott.
Steven Pacey – First Law and Age of Madness trilogies
I am a major fan of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, so I also must highlight the impressive Steven Pacey. Pacey is a great narrator who I primarily know through his work on Abercrombie’s novels. I deeply enjoyed the narration he provided to Abercrombie’s iconic dark fantasy series, the First Law trilogy, with each of the complex characters perfectly portrayed by this talented narrator. Pacey really puts a lot of himself into this exceptional audiobook adaptions, and I was very happy that he continued to provide his voice to Abercrombie’s Age of Madness sequel trilogy, providing his exceptional voices to books like A Little Hatred, The Trouble with Peace and The Wisdom of Crowds.
Joe Jameson – King of Assassins and The Legacy of the Mercenary King series
The next entry on this list is Joe Jameson, a narrator whose voice I have been hearing a fair bit of lately. Jameson is a very talented voice worker who has been narrating several amazing recent fantasy novels. I first heard Jameson’s voice when I listened to the audiobook version of King of Assassins by RJ Barker, and I was particularly impressed by his impressive take on the intriguing characters contained within. Following this, Jameson was also provided his voice to The Legacy of the Mercenary King series (currently made up of The Kingdom of Liars and The Two-Faced Queen), where I was deeply impressed with his exceptional ability. I cannot wait to hear more of Jameson’s work on this series as it continues, and I am also thinking about listening to several unrelated novels that were also voiced by this talented narrator.
Nigel Planer/Stephen Briggs – Discworld series
There was no way that I could do a list about audiobook narrators without mentioning the epic duo of Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs. Both Planer and Briggs are talented actors and narrators, but I love them the most for their work on adapting the epic Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. The Disworld books (such as Moving Pictures and The Last Continent), are my absolute favourite books, and I have so much love for them, especially in their audiobook format. All the Discworld novels (as well as some other standalone books that Pratchett wrote), were voiced by either Planer or Briggs, with Planer voicing the first 23 books, while Briggs narrated the last 18 books. Each of these narrators brings something a little different to the books they adapted, but both do an amazing job capturing Pratchett’s unique humour and compelling characters. I would strongly recommend any Discworld audiobook that these two narrate, and I have so much appreciation for them.
Jonathan Davis – Star Wars audiobooks
Another great narrator who has lent his voice to the Star Wars tie-in genre is the talented Jonathan Davis. Like Thompson, Davis is a leading Star Wars audiobook narrator, and he always does a great job portraying some of the iconic characters from the franchise. I have had a lot of fun listening to Davis’ work on such books as Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp, Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber and the Dooku: Jedi Lost audio drama by Cavan Scott. I especially love Davis’ take on characters like Emperor Palpatine and Qui-Gon Jinn and I look forward to listening to more books from him in the future.
Jay Snyder – Gray Man series
The final audiobook narrator I need to highlight on this list is the fantastic Jay Snyder. I have recently been really getting into the Gray Man books, and a lot of that is because of Snyder whose audiobook version of the last two novels, One Minute Out and Relentless, were pretty incredible. I even recently went back and checked out the first novel in the series, The Gray Man, and I was really impressed by Snyder’s work on this initial book. As I am intending to get through all the Gray Man books in the next little while, I will be hearing more of Snyder’s voice work in the future, and I cannot wait to see what other cool adventures he gets to narrate.
That’s the end of this latest list. I think it turned out pretty well, and I liked the intriguing selection of narrators I ended up featuring. Each of the above narrators are pretty damn amazing and I would honestly listen to any novel that they cared to lend their voices to. Any audiobook narrated by them comes highly recommended and I am deeply excited to hear more from them in the future. I had a fair bit of fun coming up with this list, and I think it is one that I will revisit in the future. Hopefully the next version of this list will have more variety (such as more female narrators), and I cannot wait to explore even more awesome audiobooks in the future. In the meantime, let me know who your favourite audiobook narrator is in the comments so I can check them out.