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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 29th April 2009 - 3 June 2009, the first series of the comedy fantasy radio sitcom entitled Elvenquest was broadcast in six thirty-minute episodes. Early on in 2010, this first series was released as a three CD audiobook by BBC Audio. The series included a cast of well known, well respected and undeniably talented comedians such as the likes of Stephen Mangan, Alistair McGowan and Sophie Winkleman.

Set in the mythical dimension of Lower Earth, the tale follows a trio of noble warriors - Vidar the Elf Lord, Penthiselea the Warrior Princess and Dean the Dwarf, along with a writer from our Earth named Sam and his dog named Amis (who turns out to be 'The Chosen One'). However, when they travel through a portal to Lower Earth, Amis takes on a human form, but remains with many of his original canine characteristics.

Together the fearless band plan to save Lower Earth from the evil rule of Lord Darkness by searching for the Sword of Asnagar which holds the power to take back control of the land. However, the Sword of Asnagar can only be wielded by 'The Chosen One'. They are not alone in seeking out this all-powerful sword. Great dangers await the band as they journey across the land of Lower Earth. And so begins the quest...

Written as an obvious comical take on JRR Tolkien's epic saga 'The Lord Of The Rings', Elvenquest delivers a veritable tsunami of fantasy clichés, bursting at the seams throughout with a purposefully comical downsizing of an otherwise epic saga.

Although the production is principally that of a comedy show, the storyline quickly takes precedence over the actual comedy input; with more time spent on orchestrating an intricately elaborate fantasy story than on cramming in the jokes. This however, is no great loss, as the sheer over-the-top and tongue-firmly-in-cheek take on the storyline creates an overall air of mischievous comedy that suits the production and cast well.

The strength of the show is in the storytelling rather than the sometimes time-worn and predictable jokes that seem to slip into the script from time to time. This doesn't mean that there aren't some absolute comedy treasures dotted around the picturesque landscape. Indeed, moments of comical genius regularly spring up, constantly refreshing the smirk that lies firmly across the listeners face.

You don't need to be a fan of fantasy or have any particular knowledge of past work in the field to appreciate and thoroughly enjoy this harmless and witty play on the entire genre. The performance from the cast alone carries the storyline along, with some truly ingenious characterizations played out by these well revered comedians.

Elvenquest isn't a laugh a minute production, or indeed anything anywhere near that. However, it is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining broadcast that keeps the reader chuckling along throughout.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is a huge temptation to attempt to write an appraisal of this audiobook
in the style of a sword and sorcery epic but author Anil Gupta's 'Elvenquest'
is a very hard act to follow so I won't even begin to go down that road!

'Elvenquest' is funny. Very funny indeed in fact. I laughed out loud so many
times over it's six-episode, three-hour running time that I lost count!

Mr Gupta's greatest achievement is to have poked the fantasy genre lovingly
in the ribs and to have come up with something which succeeds as much by
its close approximation to the real thing as by the quality of his writing.

Sam Porter (a marvelously discombobulated character played by Stephen Mangan)
and his dog Amis, who turns into a man (don't ask...just listen!!) are bundled off
to save their world by a gang of motley archetypal beings including Vidar the Elf Lord,
Dean the Dwarf and Penthiselea (loving that name!) the Warrior Princess.

Lord Darkness, the villain of the piece, brought to life with sniveling nasal
splendour by Alistair McGowan and his hillariously inept servant Kreech
(Kevin Eldon, who also - economically - plays Dean the Dwarf) are bent on
"Lower Earth" domination by hook or by crook.

The quest to secure the magic sword which will save life and the universe takes our
unlikely hero's through some deliciously drawn landscapes (you know the kind of thing
- The Mountains of Megwrath/Forest of Ravenwrack - sorry I just couldn't help myself
for a moment there!) and wonderfully daft adventures on route to finding their grail.
The episode detailing the male cast members' seduction by Sirens is a particular highlight!

Of the characters, Amis the Dog (and Chosen One!) played by Dave Lamb and James Bachman,
is a hilariously fickle creation (he will do almost anything for a stick or a biscuit !) and the
jauntily pragmatic Penthisilea (brought into vivid being by Sophie Winkleman) are particularly
enjoyable performances.

As the narrative draws closer to its potentially cataclysmic confrontation with Lord Darkness
and his massed hoards of chattering and cackling Goblins and Behemoths, Sam Porter is faced
with a moral dilemma : should he opt for an easy life without danger or stay and do the
right thing for his friends and for prosperity? Series one leaves us with some unanswered questions!

Production by Mr Gupta and Paul Schlesinger is consummately conceived. The sound design
and incidental music add convincing depth and atmosphere to the unfolding drama.

'Elvenquest' is a winner in every possible way. I loved it!

Highly Recommended.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sword and sorcery fantasy is often such an inherently absurd genre that it's hard to parody successfully - it can be hard to top the silliness of some genre efforts, and earlier radio spoofs like Hordes of the Things had difficulty finding a tone that worked consistently over four episodes, so spread over six episodes ElvenQuest has an even bigger mountain to climb. Surprisingly it manages to pull it off rather beautifully, helped immensely by its premise - a cynical fantasy writer is transported to a generic cliché-filled fantasy world in need of a saviour - which allows it to have a jaded voice if not quite outside the plot at least slightly to the side pointing out the predictability and absurdity of the plot. Not that Stephen Mangan's just-in-it-for-the-money writer with a healthy contempt for both the genre and its fans is the chosen one - that's his dog, transformed into a human but retaining his canine characteristics and perspective (at one point he's inconsolable over the death of a friend until someone throws him a stick to chase and he's immediately overjoyed again!). The questers are a typical band of irony-free stereotypes (heroic princess, brave-but-idiotic noble elf, obnoxious Scottish dwarf) going through the usual hoops that every other fantasy quest insists on, but the character interplay is fun and Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto's script consistently funny. But best of all are the double-act of Alistair McGowan's Dark Lord looking to reinvent the whole evil overlord thing in a more user-friendly fashion (something Kevin Eldon's sadistic underling never quite gets to grips with), with less than desired results that play on how reality and common sense really don't belong in this kind of genre. The presence of a studio audience is initially a bit of a problem, but most of the laughs seem well earned rather than canned and it does genuinely seem t inspire the performers to get the most out of the material. The show ends with a cliffhanger, but it's more than funny enough for you to want to follow it through another series.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Elvenquest is a jolly and funny old school radio series that I enjoyed very much. I mainly chose it for the quality cast of actors/tress that I like lots e.g. Stephen Mangan (Green Wing/Barclaycard ads), posh bird Sophie Winkleman (Big Suze in Peep Show) and impressionist Alistair McGowan amongst others.

All play their part very well in this "epic" quest concerning fantasy author Sam Porter (Mangan), whisked from a book signing in Totnes through a portal to Lower Earth by a motley crew of Vidar the Elf Lord, a warrior princess and Dean the smelly dwarf. Explaining why he was naked (his old pants did not survive the trip) and his purpose for being there - the "Chosen One" was needed to defeat the Lord of Darkness. Sam was impressed, only then to be told the Chosen One was actually his dog, Amis (now human) and not the chilly author.

Cue "the Quest" to be "undertook" by our heroes with lots of Lord of the Rings type ogres, woods, swamps, seas (mostly "of Certain Death"), puzzles and sorcery. The other side of the story was McGowan's Lord of Darkness (played very Lord Blackadder-like) battling with the centaurs and fairies demanding better pay and conditions in his salt mine slowing down his quest for evil rule. As with most villains he was ably assisted Baldrick style by "Creatch", his torture loving assistant.

All great fun played with lashings of irony, smut, old and new jokes. It's about as deep as a puddle in July (hold on, this is England...) and a bit predictable in parts but I loved the characters. Vidar the dim Elf Lord, Amis the dog/man who still wouldn't stop fetching things, and the Amazonian princess (don't ask me her name!) who didn't understand love but beguiled the lonely Sam. Plenty of breast-plate polishing but no swordplay for our "hero" author leading up to the series ending on a cliffhanger that means I'll look forward to part 2. Who knows, it could become a bit of a hobbit...

Like the Rings, then laugh at this :o)

(3 CDs, 6 x 30 minute episodes)
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I chose this BBC audio comedy CD on the strength of the cast rather than the plot, I'm a fan of the TV series of Hitchhikers, but I've avoided The Lord of The Rings like the plague. Basically, it's a six part series spread across three CDs about Sam, a fantasy novelist who's transported to parallel universe by a noble elf, a sexy warrior princess and a feisty dwarf called Dean. Stephen Mangan plays Sam, Sophie Winkleman is the princess and their nemesis, Lord Darkness, is portrayed by Alistair McGowan. The `chosen one' turns out to be Sam's dog, Amis, who is the only one who can save `Lower Earth' from Lord Darkness's evil clutches.

So there you have it, loads of jokes about elves, dwarves, fantasy literature, form fitting armour and so on. There's also a fair amount of laughs to be had because Amis the dog takes on human form. I did giggle at certain parts, but the various plots didn't really draw me in. However, to gain a balanced perspective, I listened to some of the episodes with my dad, who's a huge fan of LOTR and that genre and he loved it. Researching this series on the internet, apparently the writers, Anil Gupta (The Office) and Richard Pinto (The Kumars) wanted it to be an affectionate spoof and I guess it fulfils that function.

In conclusion, a fairly amusing comedy if you're a fantasy literature fan and slightly less amusing if you're not. There are some good comedy performances though, especially from Alistair McGowan who never really fails to impress.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A radio comedy spoofing the fantasy sword and sandal saga? It's not exactly an original idea (it has a long and honourable history going back to `Hordes Of the Things' and possibly earlier) and the genre to be spoofed is quite an easy target. As a result, a production has to really try hard to succeed.

This is a production that both tries and succeeds. The story is simple - a select bunch of warriors must find the sword of something or other, then put it in the hands of the `Chosen' one, who will the proceed to rid the world of all evil. Evil, in the form of Lord Darkness, is none too happy about this and tries to stop them. Nice simple set up, but around which is hung a series of great set piece comedy situations and one liners.

This is an entertaining and amusing listen, largely due to Alistair Mcgowan as Lord Darkness. His line in sneering irony and sarcasm is delivered by Mr. McGowan with perfect timing. There are more than a few sections that had me laughing out loud - as I was on a bus listening on an MP3 player at the time this attracted quite a few unwelcome stares from the other passengers!

All six episodes of the first series are to be found here. There are 3 CDs, in a double sized jewel case. Liner notes are limited. As this is prominently labelled the first series, and there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending I have high hopes there will be a second series soon, and I really look forward to hearing it.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Radio 4 seems to have more hits than misses in the 6.30pm comedy slot and this was one of the more enjoyable recent introductions. Anil Gupta (Goodness Gracious Me) is the co-writer and there are a lot of funny one liners with his usual delight in subverting sterotypes.

Its basically a spoof on mystical, magical quest stories like Lord of the Rings with a "chosen one" who has been transformed from a dog, an "everyman" who is mainly coward but with a dash of hero (at least if its to impress a woman), an "evil lord of evil" and his sidekick, a beautiful and innocent princess, a testy dwarf and the obligatory heroic quest leader.

Alistair McGowan as the evil lord has a large proportion of the best lines and takes his character to places that even Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham would consider too camp. For me he stole the show, but Stephen Mangan (Green Wing) and Kevin Eldon (Hyperdrive) are as funny as ever and Darren Boyd as the leader of the quest is wonderful as someone who would make two short planks look like a candidate for Mensa.

3 discs with 2 half hour episodes on each, its an entertaining listen with good performances all round. I hope there is a second series.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are really into, and love serious films with a Goblin, Dwarf, Elf etc flavour such as Lord of Rings, Krull or The Cronicles of Narnia this audio CD will not be for you.

It is very funny, very very funny. Listening to this in your car at the traffic lights next to other drivers will get you strange looks. It makes `Hordes of Things' sound like a lecture on politics.

Vidar the Elf Lord, Penthiselea the Warrior Princess and Dean the Dwarf kidnap Amis the dog (The Chosen One) and his owner Sam to find the mythical sword of Asnagar. They must battle with the Lord Darkness (I AM LORD DARKNESS PURVEYOR OF EVIL) who has a way with a red hot poker and various other villainous foes.

This is a send up of every serious Goblin, Dwarf and Elf film and from a slow start (all of 5 minutes) builds up into a laugh out loud, tear inducing, stomach muscle stretching comedy series. If you cannot find anything to laugh at listening to this then you must have a serious sense of humour failure.

One of the best Comedy Audio CD's I have heard in a very long time and I hope a second series is just around the corner.
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Elvenquest comes as 6 episodes on 3 CDs set in Lower Earth. Each episode builds on the previous.

The prime targets for the parodies seem to be Lord of The Rings, Thomas Covenant and Greek myths, particularly the Odyssey. It also tips its hat to The Old Harry's Game.

The actors all perform well, but Dean, the dwarf manages to be camp without going over the top. I also like Sophie Winkleman's portrayal of an Elven warrior princess, who seems unaware that there are any differences between male an female.

Lord Darkness, like most fictional super-villains, is an inconsistent character but still entertaining.

There are some great gags - e.g. "lets swap numbers... > 7 > er 4" and the compulsions of Amis, the Chosen One, a dog in human form who is still unable to resist the urge to chase sticks and perform other doggy activities.

Elvenquest provides a 3 hours of good entertainment.
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VINE VOICEon 13 May 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having been a role player, and a fantasy and SF fan, I was a bit worried that this would be another "Let's laugh at the geeks" production, but I needn't have worried. Yes, geekdom does take a hit, especially in the book-signing opening, but most of the jokes are warm, and there's much more affection than mockery in the series.

If you've heard any of the "Old Harry's Game" series on Radio 4 you'll be familiar with the tone of this. Lightweight, well played, and well cast.

What can I say? It was enjoyable, I chuckled a lot and laughed out loud when no one was listening - I'd be up for another series. And, of course, it really should be a trilogy...
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