Marcus Flavius and Justinius are two of my favorite Sutcliff characters. Both are incredibly likeable and this story of their efforts to protect the Emperor Carausius from a plot to overthrow Roman Britain is an interesting story about the opposing forces that shaped what would eventually become Anglo Saxon Britain. The Silver Branch is set about a hundred years before the fall of the Roman Empire and is one of the best examples of her ability to take what little is known for sure about Ancient Britain and weave it into a realistic story line. Johanna Ward has the perfect voice for narrating Sutcliff's lyrical writing style. Sometimes I hit the rewind just to hear a particularly lovely descriptive passage again. I have also read this book in print and the audio is great because you don't have to figure out how to pronounce some of the ancient words or places like Asklepiodotus or Rutupiae.
I was expecting a grown up version of Nancy Drew but this is so much more. A compelling mystery with interwoven plot lines, engaging characters, interesting history, and a like-able heroine. It isn't necessary to have read the earlier books in the series to enjoy this one although references to past events made me want to read those as well. Well-written and well-read also.
Anton Lesser is a fantastic reader and although this may not be the best of Dickens, it isn't the worst of Dickens. Highly recommended.
I quit listening about half way through when a 4th grade boy popped in a pornographic DVD, called it "f-ing" (minus the hyphen) and we get a description of Red Hot Enterprises in the laundromat. Maybe it has a good ending, maybe it is a good character study, maybe it will be heart-rending, maybe someone else might not mind hearing so many f-words and profane uses of the Lord's name. Too many writers of modern fiction don't think they can tell a realistic story without foul language and descriptions of sex, but if you would rather not hear it then this one isn't for you. If you want to read other points of view, a few Amazon readers raved about the book. (I wish I had discounted the opinions of the author's students however.) No complaints about the reader.
I agree completely with Valerie Ryan's Amazon.com review: "Hicks is better at describing death and "the stink of war" than he is at life. If you read War and Peace and loved all the war parts and were bored senseless by the peace parts, this is your cup of tea." I'm not a fan of abridged works but this book needed condensing. It had too many scenes that just filled up pages and did nothing to develop the characters or build the plot. Some of the comments made by characters that were probably supposed to be profoundly philosophical just sounded stupid to me. The best part was the ending - and not just because I was finally finished. I usually really like audio with multiple readers, but I didn't think the voices fit the characters and it dragged at times. Many others listeners raved about the book and audio but I always like to see another point of view. Not a waste of time, but not compelling either.
My rating is 3 stars because this is an abridged version and so Sutcliff's lyrical style is lost. She isn't one for fluff, unnecessary plot twists, excess conversation or needless explanatory narrative so the only thing to remove to shorten things up are her beautiful descriptions. The story and characters are up to her usual 5 star standards but after listening to unabridged versions of "The Silver Branch," "The Lantern Bearers," "The Shining Company," and "The Outcast," I knew something was wrong with this audio almost immediately. I should have looked closer because I never would have purchased an abridged version on purpose. Her books are not long enough to need to be abridged to make people read them.
This is one of my favorite Rosemary Sutcliff novels about Ancient Britain and a group of "lantern bearers" who try to keep the flame of civilization lit as the Dark Ages loom with the fall of the Roman Empire. The main character, Aquila, is a complex man with a strong sense of duty and decency who faces difficult choices and mixed loyalties. I was introduced to Rosemary Sutcliff's novels in a children's literature class in college, but after listening to all of her books offered by Audible and reading a few in print I realized her writing is more suitable for older teens, young adults and adults. She takes what little is known for sure about Ancient Britain and weaves it into a realistic story line, creating characters that tell us who they are through their actions without wasting words or using unnecessary explanatory narrative. Her style is very lyrical and Johanna Ward has the perfect voice for narrating her books. Sometimes I hit the rewind just to hear a particularly lovely descriptive passage again.
I was introduced to Rosemary Sutcliff's novels in a college class about children's literature, but after listening to all of her books offered by Audible and reading a few in print I realized her writing is more suitable for older teens, young adults and adults. She takes what little is known for sure about Ancient Britain and weaves it into a realistic story line, creating characters that tell us who they are through their actions without wasting words or using unnecessary explanatory narrative. What she doesn't do is add unbelievable chance encounters, romances, complicated plot twists, or head-case characters to keep readers going, so if you like that sort of historical fiction it may feel a little slow. Her style is very lyrical and Johanna Ward has the perfect voice for narrating her books. This story is interesting because it deals with cultures in both Ancient Britain and Ancient Rome, exploring the ugliness of slavery and the resiliency of the human spirit.
The narration is a little slow with too many "mouth noises" but the concept is creative and the writing is quite lyrical. Even though not all of the characters are quite as well developed as their fantasy world, Dreamhunter is worth your time if you are willing to commit to Dreamquake, the second in the duet. I listened to Dreamhunter last year before Dreamquake was available on audio so I had to actually read it to finish the story and I enjoyed the reading much more than the listening. Maybe they picked up the pace and adjusted the mike for Dreamquake.
I read this book in print when it first came out and loved it so I bought the audio to do a re-read when it was chosen by our book club some months later. If you loved reading the book then you'll love listening to it even more. The voices are wonderful and bring the characters to life. One of my all time favorites on audio.
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