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
I loved this book when I read it, and having read it I had a familiarity with Stephenson's unique vocabulary so I didn't stumble over the strange words at all. the performance was good, although I didn't like the voice of fraa Erasmus employed by the narrator, as it was different from the voice of the narrator even though the story is told first person from Erasmus's POV. a small quibble, it was still a great listen, especially the Gregorian chant accompanying the part transitions.
Say something about yourself!
...but if you give it time to develop you just might. Stephenson has often had a penchant for careful, detailed world-building that sometimes seems to overdo unnecessary features not really critical even for creating the necessary atmosphere, and for much of the first part of this book I thought this was another example of that tendency. However, a great deal more of what seems irrelevant becomes relevant later, and if you can keep it all in mind it will repay you with interesting insights. This is a book best heard in a few long sessions rather than in many smaller chunks, although that approach may seem painful for the first few hours. In the end this turns out to be a remarkable series of carefully researched discussions about some deep conceptual problems in physics and in philosophy (especially philosophy of science and epistemology). If this kind of abstract, meta-level discussion is not your cup of tea, then you might want to skip this one. If it is, then summon the patience to get through the first couple of hours and you will be rewarded.
Tell us about yourself!
Waste of a lot of time. Just cumbersome and boring. Don't believe the good reviews. I think people are afraid to admit that they spent this much staying with it! Its bad...just move on. This is the first bad review Ive ever done.
I think with the VERY large reference at the beginning of the book makes this a book that needs to be read. Not sure how easily it would be to keep jumping back to the beginning of the book and then back to where you were listening. I guess it depends on your listening device.
The other issue I had was not being able to get my head wrapped around the story. I listened for approx. 40 minutes and just could not grasp what the heck they were talking about. May have been my mood, but I was listening while driving, which is when I usually listen. What can I say, just too "out there" for me.
No, I like this genre, not my first time to the rodeo.
The narrator, I found, was actually very easy to listen too. Character voices were fine. It was the story I could not get into
mmmmm nope. There narrator was the only thing going for it
Nothing against this author, it may just have been my mental capacity when I tried to start the book.
What I like best: The world that Stephenson created; Erasmus and many of the other characters but especially him; the wild wide-ranging nature of the setting.
A small moment: Fra Jad insisting that the office supply store must have some comprehension of geometry.
I gave the performance only 4 stars because the section introducer annoyed me: She seemed to have to be trying to remember to enunciate, and pronounced concent conSENT.
Overall I truly adore the book and have pushed it on my son, who liked it too. I have listened to it many times, and will dip into it to listen to a favorite section, usually only to get caught up all over again and want to hear the whole thing.
Reviewer from Utah
I would recommend nearly anything by Stephenson, but not this one. The first third was quite interesting, but the last two-thirds was mostly opaque, boring, and forced. The action scenes are quite good, but are interrupted by long philosophical or technological disquisitions. Stephenson worked hard on this book, but it just doesn't work at the level of either character or plot.
Most interesting: futuristic look at monastic life in a secular context. Least interesting: faux philosophical conversations that go on and on and on . . . .
Dufris doesn't do emotion well. Hams it up instead of subtly portraying sadness, sorrow, or excitement. Other than the main voice, his other voices sound like caricatures. He nearly ruined Scalzi's Old Man's War series. There are far better narrators out there.
No. Please spare us.
Read and listen to Stephenson, but not this one.
The least helpful reviewer on audible.
The best loved parts. That should be obvious.
Other comparable books.
The one that has characters, and stuff happens before it stops.
No more extreme than any other reaction I normally have to literature.
Why is laughing or crying my only two options? Why not think or itch or move my bowels?
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away lived a race of bipedal humanoids that had survived a slightly different history that that of Earth. Here they engaged in lengthily philosophical discussions on the fine points of logic that exactly mirrors the philosophy of Earth. On this far away planet these people even have historical archetypes that have exact parallels to our Newton, Emerson, Locke and Darwin. So, what this really is amounts to an alternate history of our Earth but with different political forces. For me this is less a Science Fiction novel than it is a Mainstream novel that includes some SF elements. I liken this to the many Romance novels that include SF elements but which are correctly categorized as Futuristic Romance pieces and not really Science Fiction.
After listening to the amazing SNOWCRASH I felt that Neal Stephenson deserved a second listen. SNOWCRASH is fast-paced, energetic, fanciful, farcical and fun. ANATHEM is extremely slow-paced, ponderous, mundane and tedious. I am now going on to tackle Stephenson’s CRYPTONOMICON just because SNOWCRASH is so good that I want to give him every opportunity to display the brilliance that he is capable of achieving.
William Dufris is a fine narrator. He has a limited range of character voices, which he recycles on occasion, but these work well for most any conversations. He is easy to understand and always energetic, making a good effort to make this a rewarding listening experience.
I love Sci-Fi, Fantasy, History and Biographies.
This book is the best SciFi book I have ever read. It reminds me slightly of The Glass Bead Game by Hesse, both books written about a cloistered group of intellectuals. The plot is inventive and Stephenson throws ideas at you like Ninja star knives.
It has a slow start going through the history of the planet, hang in there, it gets better, amazingly better.
Listened one hour and couldn't even figure out what the heck the book is about, horrible!
I'll seek a refund. If I had it in paper I'd burn it.
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