On my PC, the audio was fuzzy or muffled so I downloaded the enhanced format. Not only was the sound quality improved, but "enhanced" made it possible to hear the nuances of Martin Jarvis's expressive reading. A so-so performance suddenly became quite good.
The lecturer does an excellent job of describing the context of the works in several ways that enrich the readers' understanding of literature by the featured authors. She describes the lives of the authors and the historical events occurring in the lives of each. In discussing their works, she shows how various sections are influenced or determined by the time written, the culture, religion, and by other literature, both Russian and European. It has left me wanting to read or reread the literature in light of what she has taught.
The lecturer appears to be reading the talks rather than giving live lectures but it doesn't detract from the presentation. As I have seen in other audio books, she occasionally repeats a sentence she just said. I've always thought readers do these repetitions because they are in some way dissatisfied with how they read certain sentences & they think the first attempt will be edited out... (just MHO- I don't really know the reason.)
My reaction to this book is mixed. The author spends an inordinate amount of space stating & restating that a major part of Christian history has been ignored... the history of the eastern church and its theology. I began to wonder if he ever was going to get around to that history and those beliefs. IMHO, much of the first & second chapters could be omitted. For me, the meat of the book begins at chapter 3 (approx 2 hr 45 min on the timer).
I did learn a great deal of fascinating information-- I'd often wondered about Coptic and Syriac Christianity, both of which get cursory treatment in most church histories. They tend to be dismissed as heresy, apparently unworthy of further discussion for that reason. I had read that eastern Christian missionaries had gone as far as India & China long before the West began to visit Asia; however, I didn't realize that sizable eastern Christian communities had developed in the East.
Up front, what you should know is that the author doesn't write as a historian, ie there is a great deal of commentary and interpretation interspersed with the facts. If you are expecting an "objective" history, look elsewhere (objective in quotes because true objectivity is impossible in the real world). The author's judgments change depending on the time & circumstances discussed-- the bias isn't consistent one way or the other. He is generally negative about the later Muslim treatment of eastern Christians but less so about the earlier years.
The narrator is OK but not riveting. On the other hand, I'm not sure how one could render the text less prosaically.
Twenty Years After is a worthy successor to The Three Musketeers, unusual for a sequel. Dumas is excellent in aging and maturing the characters for the better or the worse based on the trajectory of the personality of each. The caliber of the books in the series varies. but the first 2 are great adventure stories.
However, the narrator is not up to the material. His monotone detracts both in the narrative & the personification of characters. In dialog, monotone is not the only problem. Almost all lines are delivered as if the character was condescending, bored or domineering. There is virtually no distinction between characters. I would recommend this rendition of Twenty Years After only to those who are willing to endure the narrator in order to hear the story.
Odd that The Cabinet of Curiosities, the 3rd book in the Pendergast series, wasn't released in audio until after #11... now the only missing audio is Still Life with Crows (#4). The Cabinet of Curiosities is my favorite of the series. I read it a while back but, to me, the Pendergast books are more gripping in audio. Also hearing the visuals makes them more vivid. The Cabinet of Curiosities is not lacking in descriptions of the cubbyholes of the imagination.
For a while I was put off by Jonathan Marosz's narration because of his Pendergast. I prefer the more refined & aristocratic Louisiana accent of Rene Auberjonois, my favorite Pendergast narrator. Jonathan Marosz also has a deeper voice. However the story is enthralling, and at some point I stopped noticing the things that bothered me at first. Anyway, it's just a matter of taste.
I definitely recommend this book, even if you read it in the past.
Imagine sitting around a campfire and Pendergast tells a story...
Rene Auberjonois always does an awesome Pendergast
All Quiet on the Western Front reaches much farther than the battlefield and stretches to ages well beyond youth. There is much about the nature of life and the loneliness that comes with understanding that no one can truly know the depths of our experiences... also, how do we live during times when all actions are futile, when the world becomes a prison-- such situations and realizations occur again and again through life, and the book intensifies this understanding because it takes place in horrific circumstances.
It's easy to see why the Nazis banned and burned the book. Not many books are so eloquently anti-war, both in overt statements and also structured into the story. Hitler didn't want citizens or soldiers to know the truth of war, or be exposed to questioning of authority and breeches of discipline.
I don't know German, but this translation is often poetic. The excellent narrator senses and brings out the beauty of such passages.
At last the skeins of the Helen trilogy come together. Here are some assorted impressions:
Two Graves verges on too much in one book. It definitely is not a stand-alone book, but needs the backdrop of Fever Dream and Cold Vengeance for completion. Someone who has not read those first books of the trilogy could follow the story but would miss much of the significance of relationships & events.
For those who have read Fever Dream and Cold Vengeance, I don't think it's a spoiler to mention that a major feature of Two Graves is an isolated Nazi organization/colony upholding WWII traditions. I bring up this plot device because I quickly became worried, as it has become hackneyed over the years & I was concerned that the book would degenerate into a worn-out tale. Should have relied on Lincoln/Child to put in new twists that avoid that pitfall.
It's impossible to become a complacent reader because Lincoln/Child have a history of killing off our old friends integral to several earlier books as well as likable new characters (innocent or not). As always, the only certainty is that Pendergast will be there at the end.
All the Pendergast books have side stories, but parts of this one wander a bit far from the overall story line (but maybe my memory is fuzzy on this point about the earlier books).
Although much becomes clear in Two Graves, there are enough loose ends to ensure that there's more Pendergast to come...
Excellent alternative to the timeworn holiday tales. Alan Cumming is the perfect narrator for this story. Thanks for the Christmas present, Audible
If you want Macbeth, this version is the one to get-- I must have listened to at least 8 or 10 audio renditions of Macbeth, and there always was something that didn't seem right (usually Lady Macbeth and/or the sisters). Not so in this dramatization. Anthony Quayle is excellent but Jill Balcon deserves equal kudos as a superb Lady Macbeth. Really I like everything about the production. The only downside is the incessant drumming in the war scenes. It obscures the dialog & is generally irritating. Regardless, it's a solid 5 star performance.
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