Over the centuries, cities, and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs, bloody violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet always the avout have managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. Erasmus, however, has no fear of the outside - the Extramuros - for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.
Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in.
During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.
Powerful unforeseen forces threaten the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros - a threat that only an unsteady alliance of Saecular and avout can oppose - as, one by one, Raz's colleagues, teachers, and friends are all called forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster.
Suddenly burdened with a worlds-shattering responsibility, Erasmus finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of everything - as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of an unfamiliar planet...and far beyond.
©2008 Neal Stephenson; (P)2008 Macmillan Audio
The story seems like a great one, but the reader's voice just sounds silly as he changes characters. A story this long requires a strong reader to get you through the slow parts(and there are definitely slow parts). Overall, the concept of the story is great, but due to execution and length, I just couldn't get through it. This is not usual for me. I will usually "power through" any audio book, but I gave up on this one. Too bad, because the basis of the story is very original...
I believe this is one of those books that felt it was so important to detail the world before introducing plot. 10 hours is too much!!!
It's not the narrators fault. Maybe he could have read through the first part much faster?
No. Don't do it!
If you are willing to commit more than 10 hours, perhaps this book is life changing. I will be never know.
Probably not. While I enjoyed it, it had long stretches that went on too long for me. I think the idea behind the book was fascinating, but it got boring by the end. It would tease me with something that could have potentially been exciting, but when it came down to the end it was just boring. I really liked Neal Stephenson's "Reamde" and I was hoping this would be more like that.
Less non-action and philosophy and more, not necessarily action since I'm not an "action" type of gal and generally I like thoughtful books, but maybe a swifter resolution.
No I haven't, but I REALLY liked the narrator. In fact, I've since purchased a couple more books specifically because they're read by him. I think that the reason I stuck with the book through all its boring parts was because of the narrator.
No - frankly I was glad when it was over... the story was great, but way way too long.
Original, entertaining, and thorough.
The story is told in first person, which lends an intimacy lacking in third person perspective. The science is well thought out, the psychology equally developed. Once you get used to the idea of learning some new vocabulary, since we are reading about an alien culture, it is a fantastic ride.
Oliver Wyman has done other Stephenson books, and is my favorite narrator. He has a delivery that is emotional, his character voices are varied, and he seems to enjoy telling the story. While some narrators character voices are distracting or annoying, Wyman accomplishes creating personality in characters without over doing it to the point of parody. He also maintains consistency with his character voices, making dialogue, which this book is full of, easier to understand.
I had immediate affection for the protagonist. The book has very funny parts, particularly the protagonists interactions with his peers. There are also heart rending sections made more emotional because of your attachment to the characters.
Lots of entertainment, a long book with a well developed story, told masterfully.
William Dufris is the perfect narrator for the main character of Erasmus. He is absolutely wonderful in this role, and shows a lot of scope. All the other characters are voiced convincingly and well, too.
The book is fascinating, a vision of an alternate universe and a compelling train of events that leads to unexpected places! So worth it. One of my most highly recommended audio books.
It's worth a few listens just to take in all of this books original language and fictional history.
It's an excellent mix of readers and the range of character voices is impressive.
Hold on to your bolt it's going to be a bumpy ride!
Anyone who's a fan of Stephenson's writing is going to love this book. It's a real departure from his past works but is so original and entertaining it's worth the listen.
Editing. This book is over 30 hours long and it could have been half of that.
This book would only appeal to folks that love sitting around talking about math, geometry, math, physics and math and math and theories about math and physics and more math theories and little else. This book is nothing but characters talking about theory theory theory theory, then a tiny bit of action. More talking about theory theory theory theory and a tiny bit more action....and on and on and on. It is not entertainment. Its home work. The world that the author created was interesting but after hours and hours of theories by characters sitting around speculating and theorizing some more, I started shouting for them to just shut up and get on with the story.
I loved this book so much I listened to it twice in a row... which I have never done before with a book nor an audio book.
I've read several things by Stephenson and loved them but this is now my fave.
The writing and thinking behind it are brilliant.
The performance of the main narrator is endearing - you feel like the 1st person character is a friend.
Management consultant, video game player, avid reader of all types of books, and happily married father of four. I'll read just about anything, from Fantasy and SciFi, to mysteries and ChickLit.
The book was a bit difficult to get into, with many new, fictitious words being introduced without the proper context, kind of expecting us to understand what they mean. Eventually most of these are described or defined, either through the story or through short passages from the "New Dictionary".
While the overall plot doesn't have a lot of surprises, its the exposition on the basic philosophy behind the plot, that provides the real meat of the story. An interesting view into a world where academia becomes a world of its own, quite literally separated from the rest of society both physically and socially, with its own world of custom and practise.
Give it time, and you'll come to enjoy the story - there are no great heroics, but the characters are likeable.
Oliver Wyman is the main narrator, the others provide supporting voices for things like chapter headings and definitions.
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