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Publisher's Summary

While on a sailing trip in the Baltic Sea, two young adventurers-turned-spies uncover a secret German plot to invade England. Widely recognized as the first modern spy thriller, this 1902 lone masterpiece by World War I Royal Navy officer Erskine Childers was written as a wake-up call to the British government to attend to its North Sea defenses. It accomplished that task and has been considered a classic of espionage literature ever since. Praised for its nautical action and richly authentic background as much as for its suspenseful spycraft, The Riddle of the Sands is the brilliant forerunner to the realism of Graham Greene and John le Carré.
©2001 Mary Daheim; (P)2002 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This is a book of great renown....Its beautifully sustained atmosphere...adds poetry, and...real mystery." (Ian Fleming)
"Simon Vance lends a mature sound and considerable technique to his narration, making Childers's seafaring not only apparent, but contagious." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A great perspective on the threat of war

Any additional comments?

This book is not for those looking for an action-packed spy novel. I enjoyed it and was fascinated by the setting and the historical perspective - the book was written in 1903 to warn of the potential threat of German invasion of Britain. There is a lot of detail about sailing and tides on the northern coast of Germany. This detail can be a bit tedious at times, particularly if you can't imagine the geography. The printed book had a series of maps that help considerably, and these can be found online in the Project Gutenberg version. As a spy novel, it isn't particularly thrilling by today's standards, but it is a valuable perspective on the time before the first world war. Simon Vance's narration is wonderful.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandy
  • Plano, TX, United States
  • 12-09-08

Only if you love sailing...

Sounded interesting, but a real snoozer if you do not love sailing with all your heart and soul. I don't. The plot was lost in the interminable descriptons of sailing and shifting sandbars. A tremendous disappointment.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • mrs m
  • 08-01-14

Captivating

I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book. The plot unfolded at a good pace.
The narration by Simon Vance was excellent and was well suited to the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Jacque Hughes
  • 02-01-17

Classic brilliantly told

I have read riddle of the sands twice before, but listening to it on audiobook added another dimension. An enchanting story brilliantly told and narrated,

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MR
  • 07-04-17

A little gem from the dawn of the 20th Century

Any additional comments?

I first met this book as a prescribed text on my GCE English course maybe 60 years ago. I found it totally enthralling then and perhaps even more so now when I can fully appreciate the careful detail of the narrative. The plot is simple and neat but the story is woven into a complex tapestry of authentic nautical descriptions and set in a mysterious, shifting and foggy seascape. A startlingly prophetic warning of dire troubles ahead for the seemingly invincible British Empire, the book was a deliberate attempt to sound the alarm against Germany's growing industrial power and military potential.<br/><br/>Nicely told by Simon Vance who perfectly captures the youthful derring do of the story in the infectious enthusiasm of his narration.

  • Overall
  • Peter
  • 02-23-12

A rather tedious riddle

The publisher's description of this book as a "spy thriller" is, in my opinion, somewhat inaccurate!
It took me a lot longer to listen to it than it should have done because I kept falling asleep with the tedium and rather boring storyline.
Simon Vance gave a valiant performance but even his dulcet tones could not counteract the failure of the tale to fire my imagination.
The story is riddled (pun intended) throughout by seafaring & yachting jargon which, for a landlubber, I found quite incomprehensible and largely unecessary.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful