Large Print Reviews
With EaseReader Technology
By James Patterson & Andrew Gross
Read by Neil Dickson
Time Warner AudioBooks, (2003)
With EaseReader Technology
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 10, 2003
The Time Warner Audiobook edition of The Jester by James Patterson and Andrew Gross is unique in two respects. First, fans of Patterson will be surprised to discover that The Jester is a historical novel set in Medieval Europe, rather than in the modern setting of his modern books. Secondly, the CD audio edition of the book comes with a bonus Audio E-book version that features a program called EaseReader Technology. This program allows you to switch back and forth between a text version of the book, or read the text while simultaneously listening to the audio recording of the book.
The Jester is an intriguing book that centers around Hugh de Luc, a French innkeeper who joins a crusade, in 1096, in order to escape the oppression of the local overlord. The crusade that Hugh joins to 'free' the Holy Land from the infidels was but the first of many. The authors descriptions of the crusader's march toward Jerusalem, and the madness that accompanied the march, evokes the sounds, sights, and even smells of the era. In short, Patterson and Gross bring the world of the crusaders to life, in graphic and amazing detail. This book is not, however, a book solely about the crusade, although it is a major component of the book.
Hugh returns to France, after fleeing the increasingly disorganized and unholy crusader's army. Upon his return he finds that his son has been murdered and his wife kidnaped. His wife, Sophie, is being held by an evil Duke, Lord Baldwin. In an attempt to rescue her, Hugh enters the Duke's service as a court Jester. In short order he finds that life in the Duke's court is more hazardous than anything he encountered while on the crusade. Things only go from bad to worse for Hugh as he battles the evil that he finds all around him.
As with the other books by Patterson, The Jester is a quick paced and well-told story that is hard to put down. The story has a little bit of everything from romance to swashbuckling sword fights. The story is also complicated by the Duke's destructive search for a relic that he thinks that Hugh brought back from the Holy Land. The chapters in this book are short, but they are jammed packed with non stop action. Patterson's fans will not be disappointed in this story, and fans of historical fiction will be taken with the setting and the stories complicated plot.
This audiobook edition of The Jester is read by Neil Dickson. A seasoned stage and screen actor, Dickson has appeared in such movies as Lionheart and the Murders in the Rue Morgue. His credits also include roles in numerous television episodes and series. Dickson has a mellow British accent that compliments the story line.
EaseReader is a DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) software reader that presents simultaneous text and audio output. The 'DAISY' is the new standard in digital talking books, and this technology has been adapted for use with Audio E-books, such as you will find in this audio edition of The Jester. This new technology is a boon to visually impaired individuals, as well as for others with a print disability. In addition, the EaseReader is an ideal learning tool for individuals learning English as you can follow along with the text as it is read aloud by the reader. This Audio E-book version of The Jester is a joint project of Time Warner Audiobooks, AFB Talking Books (a department of the American Foundation for the Blind), and Dolphin Computer Access - the creator of the EaseReader.
A few special notes about the The Jester and the EaseReader...
Overall the EaseReader is a graceful application that is simple to navigate. It should be easy for most visually impaired readers to use once they learn the keyboard hotkeys. It is fully customizable. I especially like that the user can adjust the background colors and text colors, as well as the text size, to best suit their visual needs. In addition, with the EaseReader, readers, especially the blind and visually impaired, can easily bookmark their reading location, as well as effortlessly navigate through the text. The addition of this audio e-book along with the EaseReader is a wonderful new feature that I hope Time Warner will include with all of their future Audiobook releases.
- This audio e-book edition of The Jester can only be played on a desktop or laptop PC.
- Although the EaseReader is a DAISY reader, the edition of the program included with the The Jester is designed to only work with e-books that have content authorized by Time Warner Audio
Books. Therefore you cannot use this verison of EaseReader as a general DAISY reader.
- Installing the EaseReader is quick and easy. Simply insert the bonus CD that comes with the audiobook verison of The Jester into your computer's CD-Rom drive. A wizard will pop up that will quickly walk you through the installation process. During the installation process you will be asked to select the Language that the computer will use to read the book. Two of these options are American English and UK English. As a side note, the EaseReader can also 'read' several other languages, such as Swedish.
- The EaseReader interface can be controlled via onscreen buttons, or by keyboard hotkeys. A detailed list of the hotkeys are contained in the EaseReader's help files.
- Once the EaseReader is installed, simply insert the Audio E-book CD into your CD-Rom and open the EaseReader. The reader will load itself, and commence reading the book.
- You can bookmark various places in the text, plus add notes associated with these bookmarks. There is also a navigation feature that you can use to go to the beginning of a specific chapter.
- One of the nicest features is that you can set the program so that when you stop reading the book, the program will automatically recommence reading where you left off. This is the program's default setting.
- The EaseReader also allows for a number of user preferences to be set. For example, you can set the player so that the text currently being read is displayed in a color that is different from the main text. You can also adjust the size in which the text is displayed.
- Learning to use all the features of the EaseReader should not take you very long, and in a very short time you will be navigating through the book with ease.
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