This has quickly become one of my favorite period history books. I've become a fan of historical fiction set in the Middle Ages, and Mysteries of the Middle Ages serves as a good companion in that it helps explain some of the greater issues that helped shape the history of that time. Readers interested in the Middle Ages will find an abundance of fascinating information presented in chapters that illuminate aspects of history without getting bogged down in endless timelines and mind numbing details that often derail other similar books.
John Lee is an excellent narrator (as always) and enriches the book with his elegant accent, inflection and seemingly flawless performance of Latin, French and Old English.
There are a couple of points at which the author injects his own opinion about Catholicism, which I happen to agree with, but feel should have been left out as they were commentary and drifted away from the focus of the book as history.
Overall, this is one of those books I will return to again. It has also compelled me to look for more books written by Cahill and narrated by Lee.
The beginning of this book was so dark and violent that I nearly gave up on it, but at the urging of other reviewers I kept going and am glad I did. The history of the exportation of persons judged to be criminals in London and banished to settle Australia came to life as Courtenay wove his tale, and the book culminates as a wonderful story of determination and survival.
During the tale, I was a little put off by what I thought was unnecessary antisemitism, but in his preface Courtenay had addressed that as factual so I looked upon it as a fact of life as it was at the time.
The narrator does an admirable job of using accents and a heavy brogue but speaks too quickly at times. At other times, the audio sounds as though it was artificially engineered to speed the narration, which also challenged comprehension. Nevertheless, the narration added greatly to the effectiveness of the story, and overall the book was a great listen.
I'm a former great fan of King's early works who became disenchanted with what I considered excess use of gratuitous violence and far too much unnecessary "grossness" which turned me off from his later works. I bought Guns out of curiosity regarding his opinion on the subject, expecting him to take an unrelenting stand against any restrictions on firearms of any kind. Instead, he presents a thoughtful and reasonable position that suggests an accommodating middle ground. Without insulting the beliefs of anyone with an opinion on the subject, he prompts the reader to think rationally. It was gratifying to read an intelligent discussion sans the typical polarizing rants and ridiculously divisive insults so typical of most of what is written about this explosive issue. Than you, Mr. King.
I'm listening to Bryson's book for the first time as I prepare for my own solo return to many of the sites he reviews. Despite differences in national currencies, the result of creation of the euro, and a few country name changes that resulted from some nasty civil wars over the years, I was transported back in time and with Bryson revisited many of the same places, sites, smells and experiences he describes. While a decidedly lightweight reflection of history, economics and social structure, it is nevertheless a delightful review of major tourist cities and provides travelers and would-be visitors with ideas of how a budget traveler might enjoy some of Europe's greatest sites. Altogether a pleasant way to travel vicariously for a few hours.
This is not a book that extols the virtues of Catholicism or the wonderful works of Catholic charitable organizations. It focuses on how the Vatican operated during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI from a reporters point of view. In that light, it is an interesting and very timely read for anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes workings of the Vatican. The author presents a balanced point of view and projects thoughtfulness as well as critical analysis of a number of high profile issues that have cast doubt and suspicion upon the Catholic Church in recent years. While he doesn't delve into every recent high profile scandal, he does report on some that are well known and others that are not so well known. Definitely worth the time if you're fascinated by church politics. The timing of the release of this book, just as Benedict announced his retirement and before the election of Francis, made it a most timely read.
I made it about half way through the book before giving up. I was disappointed with the character development, particularly the females who are cast as flighty, self-absorbed and irresponsible. The young men in the story didn't fare much better, and came across as immature and either reckless, indecisive or cowardly. Perhaps it's a reflection of the mindset of the 70's or simply my own opinion, but the story could have been much richer had those supporting characters played more significant roles earlier in the book. As it was, it felt all too much like a made for TV soap opera mini series, which of course it did become in the 80's.
Since I didn't finish the book, perhaps the characters all matured and made significant contributions to the war in the end. The writing itself was fine and the historical context was satisfying. I learned a lot about the impact of the war upon central Europe, and perhaps at some point I'll return to finish the book for that reason alone. But for now, there are other historical novels such as Ken Follet's Century Trilogy that are more satisfying.
I recently listened to this book for the second time in conjunction with watching the television performance. As might be expected, the book is much richer, fuller and more complete and tells a different and much more satisfying story. Follet does a find job of enlightening the listener to the history and social structure of the middle ages and John Lee hits a perfect pitch as the narrator. The characters remain interesting throughout, but the second time through some scenes felt repetitive. Nevertheless, to someone interested in this period of history it is insightful and a terrific story by a knowledgable historian who gifts us, the listener, with his understanding and research into that most interesting age. It is a listen well worth the cost.
If you're new to the history of the Middle Ages, this book provides a great introduction to the Vikings and their massive influence upon the development of England. Bernard Cornwell writes great historical fiction that focuses on the growth of several key characters, and during the telling of the tale, incorporates the greater aspects of cultural development and the impact of population shifts during that era. He weaves the importance of both religious and economic factors into the story line and educates the listener to the great influence that these warrior people from the North played upon the history of England. The warring scenes gets a bit tedious at times, but are appropriate given the history of the Viking warriors.
Jamie Glover is a fine narrator with satisfactory inflection and accents. The story is not overly long, so the audiobook is priced fairly. As this is the first in a series by Cornwell, I'm looking forward to hearing more.
This book definitely didn't live up to the hype of other reviews. The story line was predictable, the climax implausible. While it was easy enough to listen to and the performance was satisfactory, the story itself had no real tension, required no committment and was routine. It bordered on boring and thankfully, because it is a relatively short book, ended before I gave up and went on to something more interesting.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.