Podcast Review #130: Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph

Title: Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph
Author: Mark Jeffrey
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 4 December 2011 – 19 April 2012
Located: iTunesPodiobooks
Formats Available: podcast, ebook
Rating: PG for violence

As most Podiobook listeners will know, Mr. Jeffrey is considered one of the founders of the current podiobook format. His young adult book Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (reviewed previously) was one of the books that got this whole thing started. So when Mr. Jeffrey puts a new book up… well, I – for one – am going to check it out.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Synchronicity machines. Difference engines melded with the iChing. Geomancy: the art of making stone float with sound. The hacker collective ‘Anonymous’. Secret societies …

This is the world of ARMAND PTOLEMY, a new action-adventure hero. Facing an enemy armed with the Golden Aleph — a mystical device that allows its wielder to see holographically into every point in time and space, Ptolemy must use every trick of his Oxford-educated mind and circus-trained body to succeed.

But how do you fight an enemy that knows your every move … even before you do?

When Armand Ptolemy is called to investigate strange tremors plaguing an old wing of the New York public library, he finds himself enmeshed in a series of events that began in 1912. Yet Ptolemy himself is rumored to be from the past himself — and the world’s Elite lust after the secret of how he seemingly jumped forward over one hundred years in time. Most keenly interested in this secret is Octavio Veerspike, head of the Veerspike banking dynasty.

When the Commission — a secret society of the world’s most powerful people — suddenly call a conclave in the tropics, Ptolemy has to figure out what they’re up to, and fast.

But the Elites have other ideas. Putting into a motion the capstone of a hundred-years old plan, the Commission wants Ptolemy out of the way. And with the Golden Aleph giving them very potent powers of prediction, they just may succeed … (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: Ummm… after listening to the first couple of episodes of Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph, I admit, I was asking myself, “What in the heck happened?!”  I admit, it has been a while since I’ve listened to one of Mr. Jeffrey’s podcasts, but I seriously don’t remember them being this bad. Wait… bad? Yes. Bad. There are multiple instances of repeated lines, atmospheric noises (jets, dogs, page turns, etc) and just mediocre production. Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph really has all the earmarks of a first production but without any of the excuses.

Grade: C-

Cast: Mr. Jeffrey does Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph as a self read and for the most part does an excellent job. There was only one issue I had with the reading and that was the pronunciation of “Ptolemy”, which Mr. Jeffrey pronounced phonetically, while I’ve always heard it pronounced “t?l’?-m?”. A small thing, and something Mr. Jeffrey might have done purposefully, but still, it drew me out of the story every time I heard it.

Grade: B+

Story: I’m still not sure whether Mr. Jeffrey intends this Ptolemy from history, a descendent, or a non-relatitve. I’m not sure it matters, but if it is a non-relative, then it kind of confuses the issue. This is a story that does a lot of ground setting and introduces, what I assume, will be the major players in a larger story.

Grade: A

Verdict: I started this story prepared to enjoy it. After the first two episodes and quite possibly through at least three-quarters of the story, I was prepared to blast it. Then I came around and recognized it for what I feel it is: a free introduction to a larger story (that probably won’t be free). And you know what? I have no problem with that. So, listen to the first 4 eps. Listen for the story. Forget the (lack luster) production. Forget the confusion surrounding Mr. Ptolemy’s origins. Be aware that this story is a setup for a larger story, and yes, be prepared to be cliff-hangered.

Disclosure: This is the third time I’ve reviewed a book by Mr. Jeffrey. I still have not conversed with him in any form. I have not received anything in return for this review.

Comment Pages

There are 5 Comments to "Podcast Review #130: Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph"

  • Actaully, I don’t think it is fair to excuse him for the lack of quality just because this may be the FREE enticer for a to be purchased longer story. It is hard enough to get a good quality recording as you know, and to have one of the “founders” of the current podiobook format as you say, is not a very good example to those who are just coming into it.

    I think to get readers/listeners excited about a new product, the come ons should be prime, not sub quality. Now I have two reason not oto listen, I do not like being led on to purchase something and the quality is not there.

    • odin1eye says:

      You make a good point. However, my point, as poorly made as it might be, is that the effort went into the story rather to the production. I graded each portion of the podiobook as I felt was appropriate with no leniency given. And again, I can understand a listeners decision to quit or to choose to listen. Thanks for commenting!

  • Mark Jeffrey says:

    Hi there Odin and Arlene —

    First of all: thanks to Odin for having a listen. And second of all, I think some of the critiques are fair. I think I did a bang-up job on the story: but a less-than-bang-up-job on the production sound quality — for this, I apologize, but I will explain best as I can.

    The bottom line here is I was rushed, and there was not much choice in the matter. I’m not at liberty yet to discussed what exactly rushed me, but it is a Good Thing, related to the Max Quick books — but I very suddenly had a go / no go choice with Armand Ptolemy — first as a Kindle book and then as a Podiobook. I decided to sew up what I had done at the moment and release it on the Kindle. But then I had a big outcry from many blind readers that I did not create a Podiobook also — something for which I did not have the time to truly do — and also this time around, I was on a completely new platform using a new sound program, so I had a bunch of unanticipated tech issues this time around.

    The second installment of Armand Ptolemy will indeed be a for-pay offering — but for $2.99 on the Kindle, so not so much. I feel the first installment — though there is a cliffhanger-ish thing at the end — is still fairly complete as a story and gives a lot on it’s own, it’s not simply a tease.

    Anyway: I decided to do the best I could as quickly as I could on the Podiobook version. Maybe the right choice, maybe not, but I still think something here was better than nothing. Nevertheless, if I do it again, I promise to do a better job on the audio quality.

    Thanks again to Odin for the listen!
    – M

    • odin1eye says:

      Well, I can’t think of a much better reason to go ahead and produce a Podiobook even if you don’t have time. Thanks for the stories and good luck with your pending announcement dealing with MQ.

  • Okay Mark, you are excused…… for now…. LOL PS, I am so glad to here that you have a big following of the blind. I used to read for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and know they are always lookig for good listens.

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