I started reading The Hobbit to my kids yesterday. And I totally got sucked in again. I love that book. As a child, I must have read it at least three or four times, but reading it again yesterday and today was such a pleasure. I enjoyed everything about it. (As someone who has been to Hobbiton itself, that probably goes without saying )
There is definitely something to be said for the omniscient author if done well. Terry Pratchett and JRR Tolkein are both masters. There is a friendliness, a between-friends atmosphere that they are both able to create as they spin the tale, much as if they were relating a personal story to you by a warm fire after a good meal.
I know a lot of fantasy authors have taken on this style of narration, but where they fall down, and don’t reach the heights of Pratchett and Tolkein, I think, is due to their lack of the personal, that closeness and intimacy that especially is found in Tolkein. He writes like he’s a good friend telling you a scandalous tale.
Another author I’ve been reading a lot of lately is Agatha Christie. I also love her method of telling the tale through the imperfect narrator, usually Captain Hastings, and the way she slyly reveals his flaws and conceits through his comments and reactions. That first person narration, which was popular in her era, done as well as she does it, is as satisfying as the deep 3rd person point of view which is my favorite way of telling a story.
I know many readers don’t think too much about the style of narration when reading a story. They don’t mentally note that the story is told in the first person, third person or by an omniscient narrator. I can’t help it, as an author. But to all the readers, do you notice, do you care, and what is your favorite style of narration?