The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Years have passed since humanity's destruction emerged from the Breach.
Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape. As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. What little hope remains is dying.
Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
©2015 Peter Newman (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
The story itself had issues, very little happens and you really never get a chance to understand what is happening. While it can be refreshing not to have that ten page conversation where the characters blatantly explain their universe for the sake of the reader, I could have used a little more explanation. I patiently waited and one simply never came. The story also ends and I feel that nothing is really resolved. That being said the way that this story is told is absolutely phenomenal. Only one of the main characters actually speaks (and not until a good way through) you get to know our protagonist "vagrant" solely through his actions, you never get to hear his thoughts, it was really a brilliant and imaginative way to tell the story (I just wish the story itself had been a little less vague).
I need to start by saying this is not the kinda book you can half listen to. You can't fade in and out knowing it will work out as it should. You are thrown into the world, New things are introduced and you have to roll with it till you figure it out. The sentences are dense with information and the wording can suggest what is happing with out slaming you in face.
The main character is incredibly human in motivation and decsions. Not hero or anti-hero but a person.
The narration is the best I have heard so far in an audio book. Jot Davies does an amazing job. Everything from a monster to a baby and he nailed it.
If you're a reader, can handle not being mollycoddled and can eaither focus on the book or don't mind going back 30s now and then, it's a great book for something different and a solid book in itself. Again amazing narration.
this is a good book. it struggles to show that to the unengaged reader though. *spoiler* the main character being mute really makes it difficult to understand any of his motives at any time. despite this the book is fantastic.
The narration had such a depth and surprise at times that I reveled in listening to it each day and even found myself limiting myself to a couple of chapter to ensure I had more to listen to the next day.
Surprisingly, the goat was my favorite character. True to form but qualities that many humans should be jealous to develop and obtain. Also the perfect quote "he was plotting revenge".
His ability to change of the voice characterizations so they were unique and if you didn't know it was one narrator you would think multiple individuals were narrating the work.
When the Hammer fell, it bothered me deeply. I know why this is but very few works have even began to emote that type of emotion from me but The Vagrant did.
A unique premise to have a character that is mute but able to convey a wide range of emotions and actions all without words was brilliant. The premise of the book with evil having invaded their world gave to the inner essence of all beings and the turmoil that they face each day. What do you do with it? Good, evil, combination of both is a question that all of humanity wrestles with and will identify within The Vagrant.
Some of the voices are good, some not so much. But at least they vary from character to character.
"Weird…but I think I liked it"
Story – 4/5
I found the Vagrant hard work a lot of the time. I had to try really hard to concentrate what exactly was happening, and I am still not entirely sure I understand it fully. I think reading the novel instead of listening probably would have made this easier. It hasn’t put me off though, I just feel like I should re-listen to it. The world is very complex; taking on a fantasy/sci-fi mix of a post demon apocalyptic setting, but with some futuristic technology involved such as brain enhancing chips, rocket launcher weaponry etc.
It is very unique. At first it reminded me of Glen Cook’s style of writing; concise, but rich prose, but in reflection, was probably closer to Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy – although still very different to anything I have ever listened to/read. One of my favourite parts of the book is Peter Newman’s use of the English language; his metaphors, similes and use of short sentences were perfect in setting the scene.
The thing that makes this story stand out the most is the prominent parental aspect, where the vagrant is looking after a baby (and a goat!) while travelling an unforgiving and brutal world; carrying an infectious goodness about him that doesn’t really exist elsewhere. It’s unusual enough to write parts of the story from the baby’s point of view, but Newman even writes some parts from the goat’s perspective – and I quite liked it.
The ending was very underwhelming as I thought it was building up to something big, but in reflection – the story was more about the journey. I fully expect Peter Newman to write sequels to this, as people will want to know what happens to that baby when she grows up.
I can see a lot of people hating this one, but I thought it was good.
Performance – 4/5
The performance is a tough one to judge properly. The reading is very slow, with large gaps in-between sentences. I found that speeding it up to x1.25 though was spot on, and removes this issue completely. You may even get away with x1.5.
I quite liked Jot Davies as a reader; he set the atmosphere of the novel nicely by really performing the story. I can see why a previous reviewer has stated the need to add impact to every word, but it worked nicely for me, and maybe felt toned down at the slightly higher speed.
His voice acting was about as distinct as you can get it. There was no subtlety at all, each being extremely different. It did mean you had lots of accents from all around the UK, but once again, this worked for me personally, as he acted them out extremely well. Some of the baby talking moments were a bit much, but these were infrequent.
I would recommend listening to sample to see if you can cope with his style.
Overall – 4/5
"Unusual and compelling"
Some great ideas in this book - I struggled at the start with an unusual style of telling, but quickly grew to love it!
And I want a goat! 😃
This was a well written book with likable characters and plenty of humour and emotional beats.
The world building is thorough and done without the use of exposition dumps, everything just flows from the story.
The ending is nice but lacks slightly, but all the more reason to read book 2!
"An ugly tale beautifully told."
An ugly tale beautifully told by author and narrator. Powerful imagery with an original perspective, never read or heard a story like this before and loved it from beginning to end.
"intriguing and captivating debut novel"
This book was not like any I've read before. With 3 out of 4 of the main protagonists not speaking and the poetic brief sketch-like descriptions of the world, events and people intrigued and fasinated me as the story slowly unfurled driven by the reactions of others to the vagrant , the baby and the goat as they travel through a distopian apocoliptic fantastical world. I was always left with more questions every time I paused from the story. Who is the vagrant? where is he going? and why are just some. The answers are revealed slowly and with great care. this book has an old saga/parable like quality that reminds me of beowolf ( i can't really say why it does ,I read beowolf as a kid at school over 20 years ago) and the morality gives an almost biblical taste. Some might say its over written which can often happen with a debut novel but i think the author succeeded in producing a unique and beautiful book. It fasinated me how the characters of this world reacted to the vagrant and his companions and him to them and how his journey changed those he meets and the world they live in
the story is well paced but the naration is a little slow but played at 1.25 speed rectifies this if you find it too slow. If your looking for olts of action and epic battles or you don't like poetry then you may not like this book
"Wallowing in decrepitude"
Someone who likes their depression served up directly and with quantity.
I thought his characterisations are a bit pompous and overly dramatic. Still, he does read well.
Basically, it feels like it is being read by an 'English Language Academic' who is pushing the drama a bit more than is necessary. Perhaps Mr. Davies feels that the listener will not pick up on the total desolation of the world, without his perhaps overly-expressive reading. Still, this could simply be the author's writing being faithfully rendered in intent: a bit like Albinoni's Adagio in G minor, too much is never enough.
The plot was ultimately predictable, but the idea of the full array of forces acting on the world so directly was interesting.
Read it if you don't want to do any thinking for yourself.
"A suprisingly addictive read"
I didn't have any real knowledge or expectation of this book apart from the odd one line comment I stumbled across online from time to time, but I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book from start to finish, for some reason I really took a shine to the goat :-)
"Brilliant story, vivid reading"
This is a brilliant story written with intelligence, humour and wit. The characters are arresting and interesting - I did not expect a mute protagonist to be so gripping! There is courage in the face of overwhelming odds; evil insidious and terrifying; humour - both human and animal; heartbreak and the wonder of redemption. It's a long time since I met characters as interesting as the eponymous Vagrant, the fascinating Harm and the domineering baby in arms! Will there be a sequel? Oh I do hope so.
Wonderful descriptive narrative but strange story. I believe I enjoyed it. Part of a series?
Very mismatched narrator whose tone very much spoiled my enjoyment of the book. His voice for the non humans sounded more like something from Sesame Street than anything else. Also, the voice for the baby is intolerable and grating. Excellent book... Dreadful narration.
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