But when one of their number is found hanging from a tree, the chilling discovery confirms that something more sinister than plague is in their midst. And as the runes warn of treachery, it appears no one is quite what they seem, least of all the child rune reader, who mercilessly compels each of her companions to tell their stories. And face the consequences...
©2008 Karen Maitland; (P)2008 Oakhill Publishing Ltd
This author is brilliant and has storytelling skills far beyond most. There are tales within tales in this book and characters you are not likely to forget soon. The one armed story teller is one, but there are more. This like all really good novels is a journey, ie; The Wizard of Oz. But this journey is through a plague ridden England in the 1300's. And no, it isn't a story about the plague. That would be everybody dies, horribly. The end. This is so much better. I listened to every word and couldn't get enough. I can only compare this book to Pillars of the earth by Ken Follett. This is a very high comparison as that is the best book I have ever downloaded and is of the same period as this. This book confirms my low opinion of the church though and I am sure not all feel the same. Some would be religious no matter how many they burned alive. I am ever amazed at that but that is not what the story is about. It is just part of what these travelers faced. One strange thing though is there are two copies of this on Audible. One is one hour less and costs two credits but can be bought for 34 bucks. The other is one hour longer with a different narrator for one credit or about 48 bucks. Both narrators sound good, so make your choice on how you are paying. The narrator on the one credit version is excellent though and would be hard to beat. Either way it is money well spent. Bravo
Jazz Cat's Mom
The time period (1348), the group of characters, and the situations they encountered as they journeyed through plague-ridden England were quite interesting and I enjoyed these aspects of the story. The narrator was excellent. However, it turns out that after many hours of listening, the end, which I expect was meant to be mysterious and thought-provoking, was simply unexceptional, leaving many questions unanswered, and providing minimal resolution - quite disappointing. Ultimately, the entire story was a long journey that lead nowhere.
The good: the narrator works his rear end off to make this sorry endeavor succeed and does it well. He was a joy to listen to. The bad: nearly everything else. How a book can begin so well and end so badly is the real mystery here. If Ms. Maitland had stuck to using her premise to create a humane story calculated to show us just how far we have come as a species, and remind us why we must continue to oppose ignorance, bigotry, supersitition, and mass violence she would have done well, and did so in the beginning. However she continued on to superimpose modern issues and morays onto a medieval story (gay hot-tubbing during the Great Plague foresooth!). This is self-indulgence of the worst sort. Futhermore she seems to have felt compelled to top each new "secret" with an even more outrageous or absurd one until, at the end, she becomes merely laughable. Well, no, in truth I held my head and cringed in embarassment for her. I listened to the end in the same way that one might watch a moving car hit a pedestrian: horrified but unable to look away.
The reader for the audiobook is EXCELLENT and he alone almost makes the book worth my credit. Almost.
The story on the other hand...the first two thirds of the book are well done, but then it just loses its way and never comes to a point. We are left hanging as to the fate of several of the characters and the ending is pointless and stupid. I wish the author would rewrite the last third of the book and actually come up with an ending instead of the total cop out we are asked to accept.
This book starts well and the story, which is told against the backdrop of the Balck Death, is well written. The company of liars are a little too disparate to be beleivable but then again Chaucer wrote a story on the same them with similarly disparate characters.
Howerver, the story is too long and into the second part your interest vanes and into the third part is almost completely lost. Then a little suspense heightens the tempo and now this story becomes a "whodunnit" - a little unexpected, but a nice turn by the author.
At the very end all the loose threads are supposed to be tied togehter and this is where the auhor completely loses it. The "explanations" are not well composed and completely against the logic of the previous story.
Spend your time listening to something else.
This book was a wonderful experience. It never ceased to entertain, educate and please.
I'll give this book very high marks for historical accuracy - down to the cold, wet summer of 1348 and the livestock falling to the pestilence as well as humans. Compare that to Follet's World Without End, where it is always bright and sunny.
The story itself is pretty good - a group of travellers are thrown together and try to outrun the plague, while we learn about their lives and secrets. I suppose you could say the same about your typical zombie movie. It's working here, however. My main criticism would be the "twist" ending (no spoilers), which is wholly unnecessary to wrapping up the story. I suppose it does resolve the question as to why the author chose that particular voice as narrator, but the story would have worked just as well without it.
This was a wonderful story with great characters, but there were serveral things that went unanswered that I thought would tie up in the end, but sadly they didn't. When it ended, I was surprised and I thought there was more and I thought that I forgot to download the last part. It ended to abrubly for me. Other than that, it was a good book and a good read.
This is the type of book that is best enjoyed as an audio book. The story consists of a lot of dialogue that is very well read and truly makes the story come alive!
Brilliant!! It reminds me of the Canterbury Tales in that the author uses lets characters tell their own stories as they wonder in and out of the story. I really enjoyed watching Maitland weave her story, just delightful --- great dialog, rounded characters and lots of historical tidbits. And more than a few surprises!
So much superstition wrapped around religion-gone-vicious, so much poverty and illiteracy facing an unseen killer. Maitland does a great job of telling a can't-put-it-down story
David Thorpe delivers an excellent performance as narrator. First rate!
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