I'm writing this review quite awhile after having listened to it. I may have given the book a slightly lower rating when I first read it, but it's long term effect on me pushed it to the top. When I think back on the books I've listened to over the years, some I thought were great at the time had no lasting impression. The story of Eifelhiem is unique, haunting, and will stick with you long after you've listened.
At first the story seems slow but it takes time to know the characters and learn the culture and environment of the story. The mixture of the stories of scientific discovery and history made, for me, an addictive combination. The story is a bit dark though and I would hope a sequel would offer a more hopeful outcome. This story demands a sequel.
A town disappeared eight centuries ago and was never rebuilt. And it was a hub town--those around it are still there but the hub is vacant. Why? The author's descriptions of the 13th century are so detailed and moving that those of the current times seem stark in comparison. I've read far enough to know that aliens are involved--yup, star travelers that are at once more intelligent and less moral. They can't understand why a landholder would negotiate with his workers.
Mr Flynn must be both well read and an arduous researcher. Not only has he masterfully inter-weaved the "alien" theme into the historical background of European 14th century life, but he has done so with sensitive balance between the two seemingly different universes. The whole tale is further bound together by the periodic return to modern day research by modern scholars, whose discoveries serve as skeleton for the intrigues of the past.
The writers acuity and detailed knowledge about Medieval, life - music, religious, social, historical should receive high accolades, while his philosophical, and humorous gems sparkle throughout.
Even Mr Flynn's aliens are different as they don't resemble of the stock-type aliens we have been presented with in the past and this, in some manner, helps to maintain a focus on the human interaction and drama, instead of making it a typical sterile science fiction sequence of events.
The performer should also be complimented by his most artistic and insightful rendition of this work. Perhaps the book would have less impact if performed by a lesser artist?
I tried to find another book by this author, but the other book seems to be less favored, so we shall wait.
I found myself drawn into the story, and eventually deeply moved... very well researched and richly drawn characters. The novel succeeds both as a simple "what if" first contact in the middle ages, but also in making us care about the characters, and in a shared celebration of scientific and human discovery.
The narration worked fine for me. Really well done novel, transcending the genre.
Eifelheim has the virtue of being an intriguing character study, with both human and alien characters at hand. It is clearly based on a prodigious amount of research, and the medieval sequences are very well rendered. I very much appreciated the nuanced nature of all the characters of Oberhochwald - all of the primary ones are complex in interesting ways.
That said, I think it would have been a better book without most or all of the modern sequences. Tom is very possibly the most grating character I've ever encountered in an audio book and Sharon wasn't that much better. I don't think that readers would miss much by forwarding through the modern sequences (until the last couple).
That said, I did very much like the book - entirely for the medieval sequences. Flynn deserves credit for his painstaking reconstruction of an obscure era and Heald does a very nice job bringing Father Deitrich to life.
For the reviewers who think that the word being said is equivalent to the English word for "he who inherits" - you are mistaken. The German word (this story is taking place in Germany) being used DOES pronounce the "H" and literally means "mister", is often used as an honorific and IS pronounced a bit like the word Hair.
Rude, I know, but that is what I said to myself anytime either of the present day characters were speaking, and much of the time that the historical main character was speaking, as well. The storyline here had potential, but it was ruined by the seemingly endless and extremely boring philosophical and scientific dialog. The characters here just like to hear themselves talk. It was like having to endure hours of commercials to get a few minutes of actual programming. Skip it. I kept thinking that possibly, the ending would make it all worthwhile. It didn't.
It's not the reader's fault that one of the characters in EIFELHEIM has the annoying "trait" of peppering his speech with phrases from a random assortment of foreign languages.
However, if you're going to record an audio book in which one of the characters does this, for goodness sake get a reader who has some clue how to pronounce those languages!
There was much that was aggravating about this generally annoying book (its ridiculous portrayal of historians being one of them). But that endless series of mispronounced words was the icing on the cake!
EIFELHEIM is a relatively interesting idea, poorly executed.