A thorough examination of this enigmatic historical figure, this book exhausts the known information regarding not only the man, but the time in which he lived. While this may at times seem tedious or excessive, you emerge the other side with a better understanding of not only why King Charles was who he was, but also why he did what he did. A flawed character certainly, and yet Charles is shown to be much more than a brutish thug of a man as so many wielding power throughout the middle ages were. Head and shoulders above all others not only in physical stature, but also in intellect, passion, drive, ambition, cunning, zeal for the church and knowledge of the scriptures.
The theological studies contained within may be beyond the grasp of the secular mind to understand in full. The author nevertheless gives a clear understanding of the gravity in which these discussions were held, and how the nuances of biblical interpretation have affected the church, and therefore politics and every level of life, during the time period.
There are a great many excursus by the author regarding what Charles may have thought on a particular issue, or how a turn of events may have played upon his mind. We often have no evidence for the direction that the narrative takes, but that is precisely the point. The records that we have of Charles are often sketchy at best, and a purely historical study of the man would be a dreary monologue of names and dates that would leave us with nothing but a headache and a vague understanding of the man.
All in all an excellent book, but not for the faint of heart to undertake, as it can be tough going at times.
But then, you wouldn't be reading this unless you are interested in the first place, so you'll probably enjoy it.
A splendid book; written in an admiring yet appropriately critical spirit. The author makes Charles come alive both as ruler and as a human being.
The recording has some "hokey" elements ( music, sound effects, reverb) but is well presented. However, someone needed to coach the narrator on correct Latin/French pronunciation.
But on the whole, well worth the listening.
Very enjoyable. Somewhat balanced though it tends to glorify Charles. The lapses in the historical record are noted and they cite references often. The sound effects, such as echo while directly quoting a source, are a bit overdone and hoaky but not to distraction. The narrator's accent is a bit heavy and pompous at times but otherwise, the accent adds a nice bit of atmosphere to the history.
The narrative flows exceptionally well, and unfortunately I've almost finished this lecture allready. The scope of this treatise is just wide enough to relate the events described to the wider picture, without derailing it. This work will also serve for an introduction to the Carolingian era and Charlemagne, and would for a good platform for further reading.
If you are looking for an epic tale of one of the really great persons in history, this is a very good choice. Probably my favourite purchase from Audible so far.
The only thing I'd like to note is the way quotes are handled. At first I got a bit distracted, but after a while I got used to it.
The book was very interesting, with just enough digressions to put Charlemagne's life in context. The reader was very good, it was easy to listen to, and the audio effects made the longer quotations easy to differentiate from the main text.
Very enjoyable life of Charlemagne and a good reader. The reverb and music were occasionally irritating, but not enough so that I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has the slightest interest in Charles or the middle ages.
Very informative - shows how the barbarians who ruined Rome organized themselves on the ruis of the old empire. I listened to it at a faster speed to save time.
Book Blogger and Planetary Defense Commander
Unless you really like history, I could not recommend this book to you. It covers its subject in depth, and I don't think the average reader would be able to sit through listening to it.
For the history enthusiast, I would recommend this book. You will most likely learn several things you didn't know about Charlemagne and possibly even history in general, even if you studied European history in college.
Too many characters with the same name, can't keep track. Narrator's style somehow makes the already-dense prose feel impenetrable. I like history, but failing all else, a truly good-and-boring audio history book can be a wonderful sleep aid. But this one features horrible music that comes on way too loud between sections, waking me up, and thus ruining its only virtue.
Disclaimer: I returned the book after 5 minutes of listening, so it may have gotten better later.The style of writing is ancient and overly flowery, not surprising since it was written in 1954.
The text reads more like a history channel docudrama than an objective scholarly work. The author takes needless positions on trivial details like the wisdom of the decision of Charlemagne's father to divide his kingdom and on the legitimacy of Charlemagne's birth (which ends up being a non-issue).
The narrator sounds like J. Peterman character from Seinfeld faking a pompous British accent. The voice swells and falls regularly without attention to the actual text. It was very distracting.
The audio was tinny throughout, and the special effect embellishments didn't help. First, a long segment of the first minute or so was obscured by background music and sound effects. Second, when quoting from other sources, the producers decided to add cheap echo/reverb, which so distracted from the actual text that it becomes incomprehensible.
It has turned me off to anything narrated by Charlton Griffin or published by Audio Connoisseur
Pompous, overly affected, distracting