Review: Strategos Book 2: Rise of the Golden Heart by Gordon Doherty

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“Rise of The Golden Heart”, the second installment in Gordon Doherty ‘s Strategos trilogy delivers once again. Apion has now risen in the ranks to become the Strategos of Chaldia and his reputation as The Haga has spread throughout the lands. He is now one of the most feared among the Seljuk enemies. Once again, Doherty blends a well-researched history with a well written and enjoyable fictional plot. I sat back several times to take in his ability to make his characters fit into this historical period accurately, while I was still able to feel emotion for them, they are so well developed. I was further fascinated with the authors depiction of Constantinople, the seat of power, where Apion faces challenges even more difficult than the battles he has fought on the field. Still fighting the demons of his past, Apion, Maria, and Nazar’s story continues as a heart rending sub-plot. This book also introduces a cliffhanger twist (no spoilers).

I listened to the audiobook presentation narrated by Rob Goll, as with all his narrations he is able to portray these characters’ emotions while giving a well-paced and exciting rendering of action. Goll’s vocal interpretations are perfect for the characterization Doherty writes so well. I have moved on to Book 3 and was happy to see Rob is continuing his narration.

All formats of “Rise of The Golden Heart” can be found here:




Dragons! Dragons! Dragons!


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Very rarely an anthology comes along which has not one weak link, Heroika is that anthology. Seventeen stories by diverse writers in a multitude of genres with one theme in common: Dragon hunting! These are tales of the primordial power of the dragon and the heroes and heroines who face their fears to make their world safe. Here there is steampunk, historical, mythological and more. High quality writing which touches on the motivation, fear and grittiness of the Dragon Hunter (and Dragon Eater as some stories show the age-old maxim of gaining the enemy’s strength through eating them).

This audiobook is narrated and performed by Rob Goll who does an amazing job with the different accents, accents not just from different areas of the world and fantasy world, but accents from different historical periods as well. His classical theatrical talent lends itself toward perfect timing and the ability to effectively portray the emotions of the Dragon Hunters and in some cases the Dragons themselves.

It is hard to pick a favorite, I loved all of the stories in their own special way. If I had to pick it would be La Betaille by Beth W. Patterson. This is the story of a little Cajun girl, Pichou (yes, Mr. Goll does a wonderful, believable accent here), who stands up to her fear in the face of the threat to her world.

I highly recommend this compellingly written and narrated anthology. As J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous quote said: “So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” Yes, they have their endings, but each story is a joy to experience.

Heroika was edited by Janet Morris

Audio Book Review, Book Reviews, Literature

Audio Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, narrated by Rob Goll


“Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of church-wardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.”

…and so it begins, OLIVER TWIST, THE PARISH BOY’S PROGRESS by Charles Dickens

This cherished novel, one of Dickens’ most popular, is here rendered in audio format by Rob Goll.

Dickens’ vast cast of characters in this novel, from the lowliest orphan to the wealthiest and most influential, is brought to life perfectly by Goll. Every distinct accent and voice is suited to the figures which run through the work. Goll  uses an interesting technique of very effectively making Dickens’ narrator  into a sort of “character” unto himself. At the proper time, witty and sarcastic and ultimately serious, making this a riveting listen on all levels. I found it hard to pause as was necessary as to its length ( a bit over 17 hours). Several characters stand out, Mr. Bumble, whose name perfectly describes his character is read with a boisterous bluster. His interactions with other characters some of the standout parts of the narration.  Goll’s reading of Fagin also shines.  At times displaying a cunning persuasiveness, at other times firm, mysterious, angry, ultimately leading to the end and his final unraveling. As with Bumble,  Fagin, and all the characters, Goll displays a true talent for dramatic narration indicative of his theatrical training. At a time when many are being asked to stay at home, this work, a true classic of British Literature, proves a wonderful distraction.

Available here:



Audio Book Review, Horror

Audio Book Review: Bram Stoker’s Dracula as narrated by Rob Goll



Like the storm in Whitby, where Bram Stoker was inspired to write the novel Dracula,  this classic work  is one part sublime beauty, one part dark, gothic horror. If Stoker had wanted someone to tell his tale, he could not have gotten a better dramatization than this, done by Rob Goll.

Through the years this novel has inspired much in the way of popular culture, with its timeless themes of good vs. evil, immortality, religion, etc. This audio rendering stays true to Stoker’s work and brings forth, with its emotional intensity, the underlying current of the power of friendship and love. Goll is able to both startle and frighten, as well as deliver such beautiful and memorable lines as: (Stoker’s dialectic spelling not changed).

There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”

“Loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings.”

“I will not let you go into the unknown alone.”

“It is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries, and woes, and troubles. And yet when King Laugh come, he make them all dance to the tune he play. Bleeding hearts, and dry bones of the churchyard, and tears that burn as they fall, all dance together to the music that he make with that smileless mouth of him. Ah, we men and women are like ropes drawn tight with strain that pull us different ways. Then tears come, and like the rain on the ropes, they brace us up, until perhaps the strain become too great, and we break. But King Laugh he come like the sunshine, and he ease off the strain again, and we bear to go on with our labor, what it may be.”

Several times in the novel there are scenes where all the characters are together, speaking. Goll is able to both maintain the array of voices and accents, while they are all speaking, delivering their lines with seamless fluidly. (Chapter XV is a must read for anyone thinking to pursue audio narration professionally).

The enigmatic character of Renfield is also played brilliantly. Stocker gives us insight into his madness and lucidity during the passages where he appears. Goll very effectively delivers both sides of this character, going back and forth between his delusions, his tenuous grip on reality, and his devotion to the Count, influenced by Dracula himself.

This narration is worth a listen if only for Chapter 25. Here Mina, languishing between the world of the undead and the living, delivers some of the novel’s most heart-rending  passages. This listener needed to step away at certain points so overwhelming was the emotion.

Dracula is admittedly one of my favorite novels. With a bit of trepidation I began this audio book listen. Goll, with his classical theatrical background and his experience narrating both solo and group dramatizations, with over 40 titles listed on Audible, brought this novel to life for me without the stereotypical interpretation many bring to this work. It also left me with a  greater appreciation of Stoker’s genius.

This audiobook can be purchased here:



Audio Book Review, Uncategorized

Audio Book Review: The Online Stage narration of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

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The players of @online_stage have brought to life Hedda Gabler, Henrick Ibsen’s masterpiece of “realism”. I am not reviewing the work, because, well…what can I say that hasn’t been said.  The role of Hedda Gabler is now considered one of the premier dramatic roles in the theatre.  As for the performance, Anna Grace plays Hedda to perfection. Her perfect timing, ability to make us hear the sarcasm dripping from her voice all make us realize that for all her boredom in her new marriage to George Tesman (which leads to her desire to influence human destiny, with its tragic outcome),  she is at heart simply not a very moral woman. Rob Goll takes on the role of George Tesman, the scholar whose interests lie in research and scholarship, at the risk of ignoring his new wife. Goll plays this character brilliantly, with a bit of personality, giving him an added depth and interest that, I believe, is necessary to a listener who is not seeing the action in real life. Again perfect timing and delivery on Goll’s part as well. Peter Tucker is also exceptional as Eilert Lovborg, once an admirer of Hedda’s and now competition for Tesman in his pursuit of a teaching position, he played a man of complicated emotions, and even with knowing the outcome of the play, Tucker admirably foreshadowed the tragic consequences throughout his clever reading. The remainder of the players are equally wonderful in their portrayals. I highly recommend this classic, it is 2-1/2 hours of listening pleasure of a drama all lovers of the theatre should experience

You can purchase here: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07ZQT1861?