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Publisher's Summary

The year is 1364. Hungry creatures stalk the dark woods of medieval Europe, and both sea and sky teem with unspeakable horrors. There is no foulness, however, no witch nor demon, to rival the grave-robbing twins Hegel and Manfried Grossbart. This is their tale, sad but true.

©2009 Jesse Bullington (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Bullington makes little attempt to cast his protagonists as sympathetic anti-heroes; the Grossbarts are cutthroats to the core. Yet Bullington’s masterfully engaging style marks him as a writer of considerable promise." (Booklist)

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  • Overall

Very well written.

This book was a departure from my normal likes, but it was worth the time I spent listening. The author took two really despicable people, and made them fun to follow along with. They have little or no redeeming qualities, but this story kept me interested to see what they would do next. I liked the ending, and felt it was the only true way to end it. The only reason why I gave it 4 stars out of 5 was the length and the plot dragged in a few spots, but don't let that stop you from dropping a credit for this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Best Listen Since Eco's Baudolino

If you could sum up The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart in three words, what would they be?

Funny Epic Tragedy

What did you like best about this story?

The characters managed to stay just this side of unbelievable. The Grossbarts, in particular, managed to somehow be ridiculous and yet cogent at times. Being an amateur medievalist myself, I always enjoy tales set in those times, but especially when the authors seem to capture the mind of the medieval, without apology.

The Brothers have a twisted but surprisingly consistent theological bent that really drives them and the story along. Bullington manages to make them seem sincere in their beliefs, at times even likable, so that you have to remind yourself (or Bullington does it for you) that they are terribly depraved.

In the longer parts of their travels, he uses clever techniques to give you a sense of the monotony and duration without making the story itself feel that way. He doesn't shy away from telling the tale in all its grotesquerie, and it adds a bit of realism to an otherwise fantastical story.

And to end with the beginning, the introduction in itself was quite amusing and does a fine job of getting you in the right frame of mind for the tale to come.

What does Christopher Lane bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His highly imaginative voices really bring the characters to life; I doubt they'd be so memorable without his reading. Every so often I would wonder just how much of the reading was his interpretation and how much was actually in the text.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The book that probably shouldn't be made into a film.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Puyallup, WA, United States
  • 09-26-10

Spoiler alert: last sentence of my review.

Ok, so the book starts off great - vile, murderous, and cruel. The two brothers are mouthy, muderous, self-centered, self-absorbed, inbred idiots who strongly believe they are pious and wonderful in Mother Mary's eyes. That's the book pretty much in a nutshell. The book moves well, until the slaughter of the demonic pig in one of the many towns they visit (not done in a comedic manner). Right around that time the story falls off into a maelstrom of unnecessary characters and extremely deep conversations that have no relevance or reason for being along the way, except for at that moment. Most of the book is reminiscent of a bunch of stoned, or drunken idots trying to sound educated. I found it highly annoying about half-way through and was hoping for the end to come soon. My sweet release came at the very end, when I thought "good, the characters are all dead and gone;. I can move on to the next book!"

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • Brewster, MA, United States
  • 04-12-11

A good dark humored fantasy

A lot of reviewers found this book distasteful but I have to disagree. That's precisely why it's good. The book has a very dark humor to it with intense gore and illogical thinking. If you like dark fairy tales or stories that take you into the gloom you'll love this book. In fact some of the stories seem to be bizarre takes on classic fairy tales.

The narration is also incredibly good. The voices add depth to the characters and you'll never hear a witches scream the same again. There really are moments where a simple dumb laugh adds a new level to a character done in this book.

Quite an enjoyable listen capped off with a very animated and imaginative narration.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Craig
  • Australia
  • 11-06-11

Funny Stuff

I listened to this some time back, but still include it as a favourite in my Audible library. The narration is great. One brother sounds like a thuggish Eccles (from the Goon Show). I laugh now just thinking about the man the brothers encounter riding a pig in a crypt, for no other reason than it is his wont. It's delightfully black and off-beat, and not at all serious. I look forward to Bullington's future productions.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

An Anathema of the Self Insert Hero Fantasy

I really enjoyed this book, it is certainly not for everyone as the protagonists are two of the foulest characters I have ever come across, with only the dry wit of the narrative preventing the book from being something like a true horror story, I would definitely recommend for anyone who enjoys genres such as fantasy and horror but has a jaded pallet for the clichés that are rampant in those genres. A unique blend of horror, humor, and adventure I would definitely recommend this title to anyone looking for something different.

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  • Performance
  • Story

Two stooges, grave robbing, a sex witch.

What did you love best about The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart?

A great listen. fun and interesting. globs of gook and puss and slime. If you liked "The throne of bones" you'll love this. The story gets a little bogged down in the third quarter but it comes back. I wish for more.

Who was your favorite character and why?

the brothers are fun antiheroes. I loved the witch and her diner choices.

Any additional comments?

great narration. i felt that he read the book well and i really liked they way he voiced the characters. A+. fun and gooey.

  • Overall

No fun, in a bad way

Unsympathetic, repulsive characters. The text doesn't flow and the narrative just seems to go nowhere. After a few minutes one looses interest. Tried several times, just cant listen to for long, gave up in the end

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good short story, bad novel.

The story starts well, takes a few good turns, and could have landed nicely as a fine short story. In stead, the author decided to fluff it up. Too bad.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Margaret
  • 11-05-10

Wasn't sure, but loving this!

I don't know if I'd have picked this book up in a shop, but I'm really glad I got it. I'd describe it as slightly nauseating, hilarious and really well narrated. I love the characters and can't wait to finish it. I will definately listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Martin
  • 08-23-10

Fine Black humour

This book has some pretty unpleasant main characters, who from the outset do some pretty unpleasant things. Their first evil deed is among the worst in the story, I was a little worried about how bad they were going to get after that one but it made the rest seem not all that bad!

I found after that point I was laughing, lots, at some of the scrapes they got into and people they met along the way, particularly the books only sex scene, which is just hilarious :)

Not for the faint hearted, but if you like black comedy and are not offended by bad language, violence, sex, blasphemy and all those sorts of things you will love this book and laugh a lot. Wish I could listen to it for the first time again it was unlike anything I have heard or read and would like more.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Árný Leifsdóttir
  • 09-14-16

horrible but great!

I really enjoyed this book. The characters are all horrible beings but you can't help but root for the brothers.
The narrator did a fantastic job!

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  • D
  • 05-21-13

Over 100 downloads and my favourite audible book

I've just checked through my library and rediscovered the brothers which I remember as being extremely engaging. It combines what I imagine to be an accurate historical account of the dark ages and mixes in the superstition of the times as part of the reality. I really can't praise it enough. I see other reviewers had problems with the narration and the opening scenes. The Grossbarts are repellent scoundrels and the voice characterisation of the brothers and those they meet really worked for me. Give it at least until they are lost deep in the woods and start hearing a threatening voice. I was hooked.

  • Overall
  • AJ
  • 12-03-12

Ruined by narrator

The book itself seems pretty good - I'll probably read it, but the narration is the worst I've ever heard.

The narrator tries to add character to the spoken parts, but goes way way overboard. imagine Nicholas Cage auditioning to play Bane.

On crack.

It makes the parts spoken - particularly by the protagonists, an ordeal. I kept thinking "I'll get used to it" but it just got worse, and eventually it became too annoying to even slog through.

A little bit of voice acting is great, so much voice acting you can barely understand whats said & its staggeringly over-egged is very very bad. The general narration is great, he then just loses the plot trying to "do voices".

  • Overall
  • knittyboot
  • 09-27-10

I hated it

I know I'm probably being unfair as I only listened to 30 minutes of this book and gave up. I hated the reader, I hated the the brothers Gosbart and wierdly I hated the characters who hated the the brothers Gosbart! To engage with a book I have to like someone in it and with this book I just couldn't find anyone to like. It reminded me in style of a grown up version of the Lemony Snicket books. I would definitely recomend listening to the sample before buying as I think it's one of of those books you either love or turn off after 2 minutes. Personaly I thought it an ugly unpleasant story but maybe it grows on you, like an unpleasant fungal infection, if you persevere, yuek!!!

1 of 3 people found this review helpful