I tried to listen to this book twice. Perhaps the plot is just too slow for audio. It got great reviews, and the storyline seemed interesting. I just can't seem to keep an interest in the book.
While the author admits to playing fast and loose with a few of the historical facts to fit the plot, overall it was a good read (listen). I thought that the midevil flavor was good, but lacked the well-researched detail of Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End." If you enjoy fiction set in this time period, you will like the historical perspective as written. I thought that the shifts to present day that occurred throughout the story would have been more smoothly placed as prologue and epilogue.
The insight into medieval thinking was fascinating, particularly the rigorous logic of the scholar trying to fit something totally outside of his experience into his understanding of the universe. My favorite line: "Sharon didn't know she was a heretic until she smelled the smoke." That line occurs in the 21st century part of the book, not the 14th century part. The commentary on modern academia is another reason why I liked the book.
Absolutely offbeat marriage of historical fiction and sci fi, and it works. A modern day historian who, while involved in a research project, comes to believe aliens landed in medieval Europe, where most of this story takes place. Compelling sci fi with a richly detailed 14th century backdrop. Fascinating premise and reading.
Obviously the author put a lot of effort into researching this book and it shows. Problem is the two halves of this story seemed like they were forced to work together not like they were meant to. I really enjoyed the relationship between the priest and the "pilgrims", but the story of the scientist couple seemed like it was stuck on as an afterthought. The scientist couple had the feel of paper dolls on sticks with author hiding below the stage and talking out of the side of his mouth to get their lines in. Zero depth.
It's hard to write a review for this book. In short there are two simultaneous stories here. One of them is good and the other is terrible! If that make any sense.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unlike Melissa, above, I thought that the most attractive part of the story was the exposition concerning the differences between medieval and modern manners of thought.
I think that the least attractive was the almost-anthropomorphism of the aliens, and as noted above, the seemingly crass modern characters (perhaps due to the way the reader read them).
I need to be highly annoyed by a book to write a bad review but this book deserves it. The main problem with the book, in my opinion is the authors overwhelming need to prove his intelligence. From his medieval characters using ten dollar words for no apparent reason as a five or two dollar word would have worked just as well, I got the feeling that the writer was running to his thesaurus so he could use the biggest word he could find, to both of his modern characters being unlikable know-it-alls who can't seem to have a conversation without it turning into a dissertation on scientific theory. I got to a point where I would completely zone out when they started talking. Beyond that, his modern male character has a highly irritating habit of sprinkling his speech with German words with no explanation as to why.
As if all of this wasn't enough there is the reader's constant mispronunciation of a variety of words, the most glaring being the pronunciation of the word heir which he pronounced "hair" the correct pronunciation is "air". The first time this happened I was totally lost for a minute...hair? What hair? Whose hair? How someone who makes a living reading books doesn't know the correct pronunciation of a fairly common word is beyond me. Further, how it got through edits and proof...listeners? mystifies me.
This book is a story with fantastic potential in the right hands, unfortunately the author and the reader were not those hands. Spend you money elsewhere.
This book is incredibly heavy-going to read. I found it impossible to stay awake listening to it. Also, the narrator mispronounces words, notably heir, which he pronounces as hair.
This author Michael Flynn and this narrator Anthony Heald are definitely on my blacklist.
The idea behind the book could have been developed into a really good book. Pity.
It spins along just fine until you get to an intriguing moment where they find a letter or something from the middle ages, the READ THAT LETTER IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE WITH NO EXPLANATION!
The author works very hard here to show just how smart he is. There is no doubt he is smart. I don't care. I wanted a good story. If you are into hard sci-fi you might like it. Un-listenable to the average person.