Friday, January 6, 2012

Triss, by Brian Jacques

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Gah, what a simple treat voices can be.

Think about it: You're reading a book, and it consists of printed words perceived visually on a page or a screen. There's no audio component (unless you're in recorded book zone), and yet a good writer is supposed to convey the sense of voice. The trick is pretty impressively magical, when it's pulled off.

Most of the time, it's not pulled off. Not really. You might make up a voice to go with the characters' speech, and the voice probably matches what you know about the character (gender, age, location, yadda yadda). But how often do the characters truly speak differently? Distinctly?

Brian Jacques might go a bit overboard with voices in Triss and the other Redwall books -- but hot damn, they're fun to read. You're never uncertain whether a Hare or a Guosim Shrew or a Ferret is speaking. And for the same reason your favorite movies and television shows are fun to imitate -- how long can you talk about Austin Powers or the Muppets without trying to sound like them? -- you get these voices stuck in your head.

And with them, the characters. And once a character is in your head, you really begin to care about that character's story. Isn't that a big part of what the joy of reading is all about?

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