- helpful votes
The idea for the story is promising. With proper research and the creation of engaging, convincing characters this book could have become an interesting and informative story about "Upstairs, Downstairs" in Russia at the onset of the October Revolution. Pity the execution is so poor, this book is not even entertaining.
Worse still, Susan Duerden's reading is terrible. Every sentence has the same intonation and contributes to a merciless singsong which ruins even those parts of the story that arouse a little interest. Miss Duerden's attempts at creating different voices are confined to her lowering her voice and sounding breathy. It is all so bad, in the end I just laughed and turned off. I would recommend that Miss Duerden listen to a performance by Rupert Degas who should give masterclasses teaching how to read a story and create a stunning variety of voices.
I shall return this book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A witty delight
This book was a serendipitous. It is not really a story but a sequence of incidents all described with wit by somebody who does not take himself of his writing too seriously, yet plays with language and preconceived ideas so that the listener/reader laughs out loud. Hearne amusingly lampoons the New Age, and I am straight on to "Hexed".
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Jean Auel has obviously spent a great deal of time and effort not only researching Neanderthal Man, but also present-day hunter gatherer societies, and then superimposed a story to present her findings in a captivating, easily accessible form. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the result, although I found the narrator's voice strangely lifeless, indeed more suited to reading an academic paper than a narrative. Auel is, however, no real story teller. The narrative remains driven by by her wish to acquaint the reader with her research, the imaginery additions are not convincing (clan memories accessed through the generations?), and the characters, though quite engaging, are never more than functional. All the same, I recommend this book. It allows an interesting insight into man's early history.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
After reading the reviews on Audible, I expected a really enjoyable book, but I was bitterly disappointed. The narration is pleasing enough, although I cannot understand why so many narrators fail to inform themselves about the pronunciation of proper names before recording a book. Surely, James Naughtie is well enough known for a reasonably educated and informed narrator to pronounce his name correctly. However, these are minor gripes compared to the book itself. What an assembly of stereotypes, and rather outdated stereotypes at that: They are all there: the dirty old man, the married couple from different cultures facing difficulties, the elderly woman discovering herself after years of living in the shadow of a husband, the Indian entrepreneur, the woman past her prime who finds a bed companion and some jolliness. How very tiresome. Give me the film any time. It may be lightweight, but the script (fortunately only loosely based on the book) in conjunction with the outstanding performances of the cast make the characters believable, which is more than be said for the book. Spend your credits on worthier fare.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
All readers should be like this
This is a well written and engaging tale. What really makes the audiobook, however, is Rupert Degas. Up to now, I thought Steven Thorne's reading of "The Merlin Trilogy" could not be surpassed. I was wrong. Rupert Degas not only succeeds in giving all the characters a distinct voice in a wide range of accents, he also seems to be that rarest of readers: one who must have read the book before recording it.
I followed a previous reviewer's advice and bought the complete "Name of the Wind" from iTunes, because Audible really should not have split the book into two parts, no matter how superb the reading.
An underrated writer
Another engaging and thought provoking novel by John le Carre. It is a pity he is known primarily as the writer of excellent spy novels, i.e. thrilling plots, rather than simply as an excellent writer. His powers of observation, the description of settings and characters, the analysis of their motives and his skills as a writer should have been awarded a prize long ago.
Michael Jayston does the author justice with his reading. He is one of the great narrators of audiobooks. Amongst his merits is the ability to pronounce most foreign names without mangling them - quite an achievement in an era where the majority narrators no longer trouble to research the pronunciation of foreign words, often rendering them utterly incomprehensible.
Buy this book. It is worth every penny.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
Not for lovers of good writing
.Excellent reading - pity the writing is not up to scratch. I suggest Jo Nesbo attend a good writing course. He needs it.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Authors, stick to writing
A wonderful book, anything but wonderfully read. Toni Morrison is a great writer, and I couldn't wait to start listening to this reading. Sadly, I had to stop after about three hours. Once again, it became painfully obvious that good writers don't necessarily make good readers. Morrison's habit of taking a breath in the middle of a phrase is worse than irritating, it regularly obscures the meaning of sections of the book. I hoped I would get used to her truncated phrasing (a grass, blade), but could not manage it. What a shame. A convincing reading of the characters' Black English speech would have added greatly to an intriguing book that lingers in the mind.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Reading 1, Writing 0
Positive first: Sean Barrett's reading of this tale is superb, which is all the more remarkable as he must have baulked at much of the writing, and the plot will probably carry even a reluctant reader (like me) to the end.
The most wondrous thing, however, is why this author allegedly received accolades for his writing. The surfeit of similes and metaphors which nearly all just miss (the minute-hand of a clock "goose-stepping"), the pretentious language (nothing has a smell, everything has an aroma, people don't chew, they masticate) all reminded me of teenagers writing to impress. The book does not have a structure so much as an event pile-up, and the characters are two-dimensional, tired, predictable cardboard cut-outs. I started wincing with embarrassment and finished laughing out loud - it's all you can do if you don't want to cry.
If you read solely for plot, enjoy a gruesome tale, and don't mind excruciatingly poor writing, buy this book. If, however, you expect professional writing, stay clear of all books of this author.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
This book is neither 'boring', nor does it have 'too many names', as another reviewer would have you believe. It is an informative and interesting follow-up to the first three books in the series and provides a satisfying end to the story, as well as a view of the future of 'the Nation'. Of course, it lacks the central figure of Genghis Khan and thus a focal point. Like the Mongol Empire itself, the various strands of the story diverge. The book is therefore probably not suited to listeners who like a one-layered, plot-driven story. My own criticism is that it is not as well written as the first book in the series in particular. It is, however, superbly read by the inimitable Stephen Thorne whose work I have admired since his rendering of Mary Stewart's 'Merlin Trilogy'. In my view the whole series allows the reader a view of the Mongols which is refreshingly different from that normally found in Western history books, and 'The Empire of Silver' is both worth hearing in its own right, and as a conclusion to the earlier three.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful