Inspector Rutledge returns to his position at Scotland Yard after long and horrendous combat service as an officer in World War I. He has been damaged in soul and psyche, and in ways that make him one of the most fascinating detectives in the genre. This first book in the series is truly special, well written, compelling, and different.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend listening to this narration. Even though I've read the book (albeit a number of years ago), I found myself totally confused almost from the beginning as to which character was speaking. We become so used to narrators who handle multiple-character dialog well (even if they don't always sound like we think a beloved character should) that it's a shock to listen to someone with this little skill at voice differentiation. In scenes where Rutledge is conducting interviews, it's almost impossible to follow the flow of questions and answers and the vital information (the plot is fairly complicated) that emerges from these interviews.
There's nothing "wrong" with Giles's voice, he just doesn't use it well. Read the book, skip this audio.
A marvelous book. Law and politics in Republican Rome with all its shenanigans and back-room bargains. A brilliant portrayal of one of those eras when there were more larger-than-life personalities on the scene than the scene could comfortably hold. The convergence and clashes of these men (Cicero, Julius Caeser, Pompey, Crassus, Mark Antony, to name a few) and the ensuing intrigues are here told in the very human voice of Tiro, a historical figure who was Cicero's secretary (first as a slave, later freed).
In order to record every word of Cicero's oratory, Tiro invented the art of shorthand--a skill that figures prominently (if apocryphally) in this book's climax. He is known to have lived into his nineties--long after the death of Cicero--and is believed to have written a biography of the Great Man that was lost to history. This is a magnificent fictional reimagination of such a biography, told in a modern and engrossing voice by Robert Harris, (author of "Fatherland," "Ghost Writer," "Pompeii" and "The Fear Index"--all well worth reading). To add to the joy is the narration by Simon Jones, one of the best readers out there.
"Imperium" is the first of a trilogy; the second book, "Empire" ("Conspirata" in the UK) has been out for several years. I have not seen a projected date for the release of the third, but am looking forward to it!
As another reviewer said of Volume 1, this is tough going! Best to have a more-than-passing interest in classical history and some background in the Roman Empire's first 100 years. But if your interest is high and your background solid (and you have a little time and patience to spare), this text and narration can be an amazing experience.
"The History" covers the period from June of 68 to November of 69 A.D., famous or infamous as "the year of four emperors." Following the death of Nero, who left no heir, various factions and leaders of the immensely powerful Roman legions discovered that they didn't have to be in Rome in order to force emperors on and off the throne.
In quick succession the emperors Galba, Otho, and Vitellius had their five minutes of fame and power before either self destructing or being forcibly destroyed to make way for the next candidate. Finally, in the fall of 69 forces loyal to Vespasian, commander of the legions fighting in Judea, proclaimed him emperor. After several months of civil war, Vespasian was officially acknowledged as emperor, ushering in a period of stability (always remembering stability is a relative concept).
There is very much a you-are-there quality to this narrative. The historian Tacitus (c.56-120) was a Roman noble who acknowledged owing his advancement to Vespasian's younger son, the Emperor Domitian, so his personal interest in the story is manifest. However, Tacitus has an admirably modern approach that at least attempts impartiality, and there are moments of stunning oratory that also ring very modern.
That said, it's a reading to take in small bits and come back to again and again. There's no way to remember or keep track of the long strings of Latin names, many of whom were drops of water in the sea of history. But if you relax and lose yourself in the excellent translation and Charlton Griffin's trademark ringing narration, growing familiarity can pull you in to a fascinating time (that you will probably be glad to be hearing about rather than experiencing).
If you're like me and tend to absorb a lot of history as a result of reading novels, many of the characters in Tacitus' History (especially Vespasian) are prominent in the military historical novels by Simon Scarrow. And in one of those strange coincidences, shortly after I started listening to Tacitus, I happened across a novel called "Daughters of Rome" by Kate Quinn that covers the timeframe and some of the characters in Tacitus, but from the point of view of four fictional Roman noblewomen who in Quinn's version have more than a little to do with how things turned out in the end. It was a bit of a leap from the sublime to the ridiculous, but I enjoyed Quinn's book (which is less of a romance than its packaging suggests) and I admit it provided a compass that helped kept me on track and get more real value from Tacitus.
It says something of my status as a Georgette Heyer Fangirl that I keep getting these Naxos abridgments. I want to believe they are better than nothing, but after this one, I think I'll stick to nothing if unabridged is unavailable.
This is not one of Heyer's best books, but it's far from the worst. There's a bite to the romance. The heroine is a hostess/dealer in an elite gaming house (faro was a popular game that seems to have had a bit in common with blackjack). The hero is a sardonic, jaded, and excessively rich misanthrope whose first instinct is to mistrust others.
The problem with these abridgments is epitomized in a climactic scene where Max (the hero) entices one of his antagonists (I guess you could call him the villain) into a high-stakes game of piquet (a skill-based, "trick-taking" game for two; the rules can be found on Wikipedia if you're more interested in card games than I am). As originally written the scene is long and engrossing. The tension builds and Heyer's skill as a novelist puts you right in the gamblers' heads as Max icily plays his cards. The outcome after long hours of play comes as no surprise, but it is a dramatic moment that is both satisfying and crucial to the plot.
In the abridged version here, there is no engrossing tension. The game is over in a couple of unsatisfying paragraphs, leaving you with no sense of Max's strategy but with the sense that both you and Lord Ormskirk have just been duped.
The 18th century chamber music interspersed between scenes is nice, but while appropriate to some Heyer stories it doesn't speak to the mood of this somewhat darker tale. And if they're trying for their own unfathomable reasons to keep the length to 4 or 5 CDs, the music is just a waste of space.
I *do* like the covers on Naxos editions. Past publishers have done Heyer a great disservice with the sappy cartoons seen on many of the unabridged editions here. The silly artwork does not in any way convey the classic excellence of these books. I continue to hope that more unabridged Heyer, both her novels and her mysteries, will become available on Audible.
The Vorkosigan series is one of the best! But this "prequel"--set 200 years before the "real" series--is an outlier, very different from the others and (in my opinion) not nearly as good. Its story is almost totally exclusive of the series; the "Quaddies" do figure in later Vorkosigan books, but in a fairly minor way. "Falling Free" is best approached after you've already become hooked by the Vorkosiverse.
Start with either Shards of Honor or The Warrior's Apprentice. An interview with Lois McMaster Bujold appears with her book listings on Amazon and will advise the best order in which to read the series.
Perhaps the greatest joy I've had from joining Audible three years ago is finding this series based on reader recommendations. I started with the Shards of Honor/Barrayar duology, finding both so good that I was afraid the series would inevitably go downhill once Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan ceded center stage. But no... enter their son Miles!
Miles is not the physically dominant fighter so often cast in the hero role. Far from it, he has severe physical disabilities. Resigned (maybe? sort of?) to his limitations, he discovers early in life that when you can't beat up on 'em, (1) charm them and (2) outsmart them. He proceeds to do both throughout these wonderful books, with an added dimension of compassion and a wry, witty humor unique in the science fiction I've read.
I'm more than halfway through the series and already dreading the day I finish and won't be able to experience them again for the first time.
This collection contains three novellas. Fortunately, the author's interview on Amazon ("The Chef Recommends") gives the order in which they fit into the longer sequence of novels. "Mountains of Mourning" immediately follows "The Warrior's Apprentice." It is a moving story that is more murder mystery than science fiction, recounting events that have a deep affect on Miles as he begins his career as a Vorlord and military commander.
"The Labyrinth" and the title story "Borders of Infinity" (along with "Ethan of Athos," a fun novel that is part of the Vorkosiverse but doesn't feature Miles) fit in between "Cetaganda" and "Brothers in Arms." These three form a kind of bridge between the first three Miles books and the next "trilogy" (Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, and Memory). I haven't gotten to "Komarr" yet but gather from Bujold's notes that it moves Miles into a new phase of his career.
The icing on the cake is Grover Gardner's narration, which ranks at the very top of what I've listened to (along with Simon Vance's work on the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Davina Porter's "Outlander" series, and Simon Jones's voicing of the "Bartemeus" fantasies).
I turned my nose up at the Outlander series for years, thinking that these books were nothing more than silly, schlocky romances. It was the listener reviews on Audible that convinced me to try the first book in the series, and *much* to my surprise I became an enthusiastic fan, both of this series and of the complementary series by Gabaldon that features Lord John Grey.
Davina Porter's wonderful narration makes the audio versions of these books better than their print incarnations. I also find Jeff Woodman's interpretation of the Grey novels delightful.
Loved "Outlander" and "Dragonfly in Amber." Thought "Voyager" was the best of the series so far, and indeed rank it as one of the most enjoyable books I've ever listened to. "Drums of Autumn" was a bit of a letdown, partly because "Voyager" was so good and partly because of the prominence of the character I have come to think of as "Bratty Brianna" (actually I use another adjective, but not on a public site). But "Drums" had an action-packed story that kept me turning the pages (or the audio equivalent).
"The Fiery Cross," unfortunately, moves more slowly than an icebound Highland stream in January. The detailed descriptions of the difficult everyday life on the American frontier in 1771--a time without toilet tissue or disposable diapers, as we learn in not one but several accounts of baby Jem's "exploits"--take up far more than is reasonable of the massive page count in this book, which lacks the edge-of-your seat action of Jamie and Claire's previous adventures. Brianna is still around. She has become a little less bratty now that she's reunited with Roger (nothing wrong with Roger except that he's not Jamie Frasier), but the constant references to her breast milk got nauseating.
The next book in the series, "A Breath of Snow and Ashes," is in my library, but I'm going to wait and bit and rest up from (or perhaps, better, try and wake up from) the Fiery Cross before moving on. The reviews seem to indicate ABoSaA is a better story, so I'll keep going.
I was only dimly aware of Lee Child's books starring Jack Reacher and had never been tempted by what sounded like a superviolent macho fantasy series. But the blurb on the library CD of "Gone Tomorrow" intrigued me, and that book's opening scene of -- a tense, suspenseful, wonderfully written series of events on a New York subway -- pulled me in and the rest of the story didn't let me down.
So I downloaded "Killing Floor," the first book in this series (which is indeed often superviolent and has a lot of macho fantasy elements). I was disappointed by the cliched opening sequences (corrupt Southern law enforcers trying to make a fall guy of our hero, seemingly a drifter and probably a Yankee) and a plot driven by far too many coincidences.
I persevered with several other Reacher books and really enjoyed "Persuader," "One Shot," and "Bad Luck and Trouble." Then I listened to "The Affair," a very good recent Reacher novel that's a flashback, an immediate prequel that makes some of "Killing Floor's" coincidences fall into place. After listening to Killing Floor a second time, I added a star to my rating, though it's not the best of Reacher.
If you're new to this series, my suggestion is to start with one or two of the more recent entries (although probably not the most recent one, "Worth Dying For," which has gotten terrible reviews from Audible listeners I trust, and probably not "Nothing to Lose," which I couldn't get even halfway through). If you enjoy those, you can "begin at the beginning," as Jack says in "The Affair."
These books have a very high level of violence, including graphic descriptions of torture. Reacher kills people with impunity--mostly really bad people, but some only moderately bad people and a few innocent bystanders. He always seems to find a beautiful female law enforcement official to ... entrance with his manliness. He walks away into the sunset leaving behind a trail of dead bodies and broken hearts. That should add up to nothing more than stupid macho fantasy, but I am neither stupid nor macho, and for some reason I find these books engrossing. Maybe it's the fantasy.
Great listen! Humor, suspense, action, and an intriguing premise (actually several intriguing premises). Had never heard an Oliver Wyman narration before, but he's very good in this one.
Hope Brandon Sanderson gives us more of this(ese) fascinating character(s)!
Based on the plot description, I fully expected to enjoy this obviously veddy British mystery. I'm a longtime Anglophile who cut my mystery teeth on books by Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh (who's from New Zealand, but definitely Brit), and Georgette Heyer (her mysteries are highly underrated, although her Austenesque romances are better). Not having come across Ruth Dudley Edwards before, this looked like it might be a new series to enjoy.
Perhaps I chose the wrong entry in the series to start with, but Edwards's approach totally bewildered me. I got that it's satire. I also got that I don't know enough about English politics to pick up on all the "in" jokes, although the framework of hyperconservative, hidebound fogeys battling the new millennium is broad enough that not knowing all the details didn't really detract. But I didn't get how I was supposed to care about the characters, all of whom seemed contrived to the point of being ridiculous. Baroness "Jack" Troutbeck, apparently supposed to be the eccentric linchpin of the series, is more despicable than engaging. The scene in which she insults and browbeats a young waiter at an upscale hotel--telling her embarrassed luncheon companion in essence that "they need to know their place"--pretty much killed any interest I might have had left in the series, which by that point in the book wasn't much.
British eccentrics are legendary in the literary world, but when almost every character in the book is eccentric and each one is more over the top than the last, it gets boring fast.
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