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  • The Cossacks

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: David Thorn
  • Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 73
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 73

The colorful Cossack way of life is made alive and real in this historical novel.

Tolstoy's first novel and acknowledged as one of his best, it is based on his own forays into the Caucasus, abandoning his aristocrat life of gambling and carousing in Moscow and volunteering to be attached to the regular army.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Tolstoy masterpiece is wounded by terrible audio

  • By Darwin8u on 07-24-13

Interesting story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-17-18

Not on the same level as some of his more famous works, but still Tolstoy!

As other reviewers have said, the cheesy MIDI music at the end of the chapter is irritating, but it’s bearable.

The regionalisation of accents/language patterns from Russia to the UK is necessary because it conveys class differences that simply couldn’t be reproduced (or couldn’t be reproduced without it being a total disaster) in, say, US or Canadian English.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Katherine

  • A Novel
  • By: Anya Seton
  • Narrated by: Wanda McCaddon
  • Length: 23 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 973
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 861
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 856

Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the classic romance Katherine features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets - Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II - who ruled despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance, John of Gaunt, the king's son, falls passionately in love with the already married Katherine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • If you like Philippa Gregory's novels, try this!

  • By Gwynne O'Reagan on 04-22-12

Love! Passion! Peasant rebellions! Chaucer!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-15-18

Some books use history as mere set dressing, but this is not one of those books. The medieval world comes vividly alive in "Katherine". As well as keeping you fully invested in the characters' narratives, the book also gives you a tour of many of the greats of medieval English history. Did I screech with delight when Julian of Norwich showed up? Yes, yes I did.

And for those of you who aren't big history buffs, this book does what all great novels should: it uses fiction to explore the complexities of your fellow human beings. What more could you ask?

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Barkskins

  • A Novel
  • By: Annie Proulx
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 25 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,009
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 924
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 922

In the late 18th century, Rene Sel, an illiterate woodsman, makes his way from Northern France to New France to seek a living. Bound to a feudal lord, a seigneur, for three years in exchange for land, he suffers extraordinary hardship, always in awe of the forest he is charged with cleaning. Rene marries an Indian healer with children already, and they have more, mixing the blood of two cultures. Proulx tells the stories of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of two lineages, the Sels and the Duquets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Awe-Inspiring, Far-Reaching Epic

  • By W Perry Hall on 06-30-16

Beautiful

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-15-18

A heartbreaking story told in Annie Proulx's evocative, elegant prose.

The broad, multi-generational scale of the novel would make it hard for a lesser writer to keep readers invested, but this book manages to do so.

Quick note: I would recommend listening to the very last 30 minutes of the book only when you're in a mood to give it your full focus, the way you would if you wanted to sit down and read some poetry. It was a bold choice, stylistically speaking, and I can see how it might fall flat for some (especially if you're stuck in traffic on your commute home). Commit to really feeling it, though, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Great World Religions: Hinduism

  • By: Mark W. Muesse, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Mark W. Muesse
  • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 326
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 284

In this 12-lecture series, you'll encounter a religion that is perhaps the most diverse of all; one that worships more gods and goddesses than any other, and one that rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine. These lectures provide a window into the roots of, perhaps, all religions. You'll explore the course of Hinduism's 5,000-year journey.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An important introduction into Hinduism

  • By Jacobus on 05-09-14

Hinduism 101

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-19-18

I have a degree in religious studies, though I never had the opportunity to do more than a cursory skim of Hinduism. In my opinion, Professor Muesse does an excellent job of laying out the prominent themes and of alerting the listener to points on which academics remain divided.

I hope the Great Courses starts expanding its religious studies offerings. It would be wonderful if we could have as many lectures on Hinduism or Confucianism or Ancient Greek religion as we do on Christianity.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Children of God

  • By: Mary Doria Russell
  • Narrated by: Anna Fields
  • Length: 17 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 630
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 547

The only member of the original mission to the planet Rakhat to return to Earth, Father Emilio Sandoz has barely begun to recover from his ordeal when the Society of Jesus calls upon him for help in preparing for another mission to Alpha Centauri. Despite his objections and fear, he cannot escape his past or the future.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A weaker, but worthwhile sequel

  • By Ryan on 05-08-13

Heartbreaking and heart-mending

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-19-18

I've listened to this multiple times and every time I find something new to love.

This is the second of two books. The first, "The Sparrow", leaves us with Emilio Sandoz having finally told the full tale of what happened to him in the course of humankind's first contact with intelligent alien life. He is still very much a broken man at the beginning of "Children of God". But I hope it's not too much a spoiler to say that one of the most important themes in this book is healing.

I loved "The Sparrow" for its wonderfully human (alien?) characters. "Children of God" is all that and more. It has that same character-driven narrative but on a far more dramatic dramatic scale. You get a sense of real people caught up in the complex interplay of power and politics. You couldn't ask for a better conclusion to the series.

Anna Fields' narration is absolutely superb. Emilio's voice is key to this story, and her characterization was so mesmerizing that at times I frankly forgot I was even hearing a narrator at all. It seemed like I was hearing the voice of the character speaking to me, and it was deeply moving.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Oedipus Plays

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Sophocles, Ian Johnston - translator
  • Narrated by: Jamie Glover, Hayley Atwell, Michael Maloney, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 710
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 654
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 655

The three Theban plays by Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - are one of the great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate - to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So Well Done!

  • By LacyADM on 07-12-16

Simple, elegant, and powerful

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-19-18

We all know how the end of the first play goes. It's like Romeo and Juliet: you don't exactly go in sans spoilers. But I was so immersed in the drama that when Teiresias said "And he will turn out to be the brother of the children in his house—their father, too," I honestly reacted with a full-body shudder of horror.

The Ian Johnston translation is extremely accessible and the actors hold up their end by bringing the story vividly to life. Hayley Atwell in particular played Antigone with all the defiant passion and resolve the role calls for.

If you're unfamiliar with the details of the Oedipus story or haven't read/seen any of the other plays, you'll really enjoy delving deeper into the family saga this way. Even if you're not deeply interested in the classics, this production is a superb, snack-sized sampler with amazing production value.

Maybe not a great choice for a long family car ride, though...

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

  • The Mowgli Stories
  • By: Rudyard Kipling
  • Narrated by: Bill Bailey, Richard E. Grant, Colin Salmon, and others
  • Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,509
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,398
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,400

Audie Award, Excellence in Production; Audie Award, Audio Drama, 2016. The magical storytelling and unforgettable characters in Ben Doyle and Richard Kurti's audio adaptation of this children's classic have been brought to life by many well-known voices from British film, TV, radio and comedy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Kipling at its best!

  • By Sarah Cresap on 06-08-16

Immersive and magical

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-19-18

This audio drama pulls together the different Mowgli stories so the listener can follow the arc of Mowgli's life, rather like the Disney "Jungle Book" movie.

I wish they'd given young Mowgli an Indian accent the way they did for grown Mowgli. The continuity would have been nice, and with a couple centuries' worth of imperialism looming in the background, it would have been even nicer to hear more voices from India itself.

That said, this whole story is beautifully done. Each voice suits the role. Father Wolf in particular sounds as though he might actually be a werewolf. The rest of the sound design hits that perfect balance of being evocative without being intrusive. It's a great listen!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Anna Karenina

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: David Horovitch
  • Length: 38 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,068
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,721
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,715

Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful story, amazing narration

  • By Marcus Vorwaller on 08-02-08

Parlez-vous anglais?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-04-18

I haven't noticed any comments on the one, glaring problem with this translation of the book: vast, unedifying, untranslated sections of French.

Louise and Aylmer Maude were both friends of Tolstoy's, which is certainly a point in favor of their translation. On the other hand, the translation is from a time period when French was considered an indispensable part of a modern education. It was a useful language to learn, and I'm sure most readers in 1918 could handle it. Nowadays, it's like leaving in untranslated chunks of Latin or Greek.

You can still muddle through the conversational French even if you've never studied it since romance languages are (fortunately) pretty easy. However, there are plenty of key moments that are untranslated and far harder to puzzle out on the go. It's irritating for a modern reader, and especially so for a listener.

I stuck with this version for the narrator, and I don't regret the choice. Be warned, though: either you have to look up the untranslated sections in Project Gutenberg and plug the text into Google Translate, or you just have to roll with it and hope you're not missing anything too critical.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Mastani

  • By: Kusum Choppra
  • Narrated by: Shaheen Khan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Until recently, history had relegated Mastani to forgotten pages as a dancing girl -a myth kept alive by lack of evidence about her true place in the Peshwa household. Daughter of Maharaj Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand, Mastani married Peshwa Baji Rao I while he was in power, but she was obscured almost to anonymity by several forces. Her life as a strategist, both on the field and at home, was veiled with intrigue due to the jealousies of women in zenanas and power-hungry relatives in the Peshwai.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not the best book to do as audio

  • By Lucie on 12-28-17

Not the best book to do as audio

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-28-17

I have a new appreciation for people from non Anglo-European cultures who read historical fiction or period fantasy with English as their second language. There's all that generally untranslatable, specific terminology (hauberk, falchion, keep, oubliette). There are deeply Anglo-European cultural motifs and allusions (Biblical references, King Arthur, Greco-Roman mythology). Trying to listen to this book was a learning experience, and despite the great narration and interesting story, it was tough.

This story is very dense with cultural material and terminology, and it's an uphill battle. I tend to obsessively look up any word I don't understand, but it was hard to do that with non-English terms in an audio medium. I could only get glimpses of the far more rewarding experience I might have had if I'd been reading an actual book that I could've used to look up unknown words.

On the other hand, I learned a great deal more about this period in Indian history than I ever would have otherwise. It was really fascinating to slowly piece together the cultural context from implicit clues, rather than having it all spelled out for me directly.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Sparrow

  • By: Mary Doria Russell
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 15 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,368
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,061
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,061

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience - the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life - begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superbly Written and Thought-provoking

  • By Jim N on 08-15-12

A work of profound beauty and imagination

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-06-17

This is one of those absolutely breathtaking works of science fiction that makes the more cowardly critics say things like, "Well, it's not really sci-fi, it's a novel!". "The Sparrow", with its space travel and alien species, is definitely sci-fi. As with any other work of good fiction, it tells us something about humanity. Because it is sci-fi, it does so by framing the human in an alien setting. Mary Doria Russell gives us human characters, whose joys and sorrows draw the reader in as they explore Russell's strange new world. Using anthropology, linguistics, history, physics, philosophy, and - above all - a deep understanding of the human heart, Russell has crafted an incredible, believable alien world as a mirror with which to study our own reflections.

I also teared up on public transit because of a sci-fi Jesuit linguist from the slums of Puerto Rico. 10/10 Would read/cry again.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful