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Publisher's Summary

Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and on Dean Jocelin in particular.

From the author of Lord of the Flies, The Spire is a dark and powerful portrait of one man's will, and the folly that he creates.

©1964 William Golding (P)2014 Canongate Books in partnership with Faber & Faber Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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Power through for a deep exam. of a man's psyche

Where does The Spire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a complicated book. I'm not sure it lends itself all that well to an audio version. But I'm still new to audio books, and find I like them best when I can be a tad bit distracted when listening to them. This is a not a book to digest while being distracted. It requires full attention.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the many levels this story exists on. It is a story, told from one (increasingly crazy) man about his desires, actions, and motivations.

What about Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance did you like?

I read this book as I listened, so I noticed he occasionally took small liberties. Jocelyn spoke with more contractions! So if you are a purist, know that. But the voices he infused the characters with were fantastic.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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A relentless exploration of vanity

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I am unsure if I would recommend this audiobook. This book might be better consumed ocularly via Kindle or (gasp) old-fashioned book. The story is predictable and I found the characters somewhat unremarkable - surprising for Mr. Golding. However, the writing was superb as usual. I think reading it would allow more appreciation of the language without relying upon attention-grabbing characters. That being said, Mr. Cumberbatch does a FANTASTIC job of narrating. I loved his voices, and his voice in general.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Self torture

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anyone who wants to punish themselves.

Would you ever listen to anything by William Golding again?

Yes...I would listen to Lore of the Flies as I have read that .

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

I would not have been able to endure this had he not performed...and this was a great performance.

What character would you cut from The Spire?

The main one.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Twisty and dark

Twisty and dark story with a building sense of doom. Wonderfully read by Benedict Cumberbatch, who employs a wide range of voices and creates the dean's character brilliantly.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The Spire Inspires

Captivating story. The writing was exquisite-- practically poetry. Cumberbatch used his talents of creating accents to the fullest. Fabulous book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable book

Where does The Spire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Most others are stories, I'd say this should be required reading for Engineering students (especially those who will specialize in Project Management) in Freshman English class.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Spire?

The confrontation between Roger Mason and Jocelin, when Roger Mason shows how much he'd already done to try and make the Spire work and Jocelin's blind faith practically drives him to despair, though he still tries his best to find a solution.

Which scene was your favorite?

The memorable moment mentioned above.

If you could rename The Spire, what would you call it?

Watching a Train Wreck About to Happen

Any additional comments?

The performance by Benedict Cumberbatch was phenomenal. He inhabited his characters and the voices he created for each character made the book easy to follow and kept me riveted.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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incredible performance, exceptional prose

not sure I would have enjoyed this quote so much if not for the enthusiastic, expressive, invested performance of the narrator.

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So so so so sooooo confusing.

I'll be honest. I'm not a philosophical person. I don't enjoy super deep thinking or huge amounts of reading between the lines. This book felt like it was 80% reading between the lines with the constant psychological and philosophical interpretations of the actions and scenes around the main character. Which means, I was utterly lost on what was happening like 70% of the time.
I love Mr Cumberbatch, with his grand scale of varying voices, but at times, the characters were so wildly voiced due to the interpretation of their emotions, that I had no idea who was speaking and who said what.
I will only mention this book to others whom might enjoy the challenge of a severely confusing read.

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Great Reading!

Not my favorite story ever buy great reading by Sherlock Holmes! recommend based on narration.

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Powerful narrator meets powerful literature

Fantastic narrating from Cumberbatch, plus splendid literature from Golding. It is so immersive and such a music to my ears - it was truely striking

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  • Morganrandg
  • 03-11-15

Wonderful narration lifted the whole work.

I found the story rather hard to read in book format but with Benedict Cumberbatch's narration it was a joy to listen. I have listened to the whole book several times already and each time my image of the building grows in detail and stature.
I would listen to Mr Cumberbatch read anything.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Earnest
  • 01-27-15

Scintillating, metaphysical scream.

Most surprising revelation to listen to this when many years ago "Lord of the Flies " had been a compulsory, unpleasant, school based read. Age and experience has made this new experience of Golding such an intellectual, visceral surprise.
The whole gamut of human, very specifically competitive, male and religious life are fore grounded with such potent imagery that it literally takes your breath away.
The narrator is outstanding.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Christine
  • 12-02-15

A dissenting view

This is an amazing story, but I struggled with Benedict Cumberbatch's performance (controversial I know)! When he is narrating, it is outstanding, but during dialogues I struggled to know who was talking (especially between Jocelyn and Roger). I'm not sure why, but possibly because all the characters had the same voices, and the sudden mood changes of all the speakers (not just Jocelyn, in which it was understandable) kept tricking me into thinking the next person was speaking? I don't know, but I am sure the hordes of Cumberbatch fans will get very irate with me!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anony Mouse
  • 07-26-15

Fascinating insight, nicely read

A fascinating book - after reading this I'll never look at a medieval cathedral in the same way again! Gripping and with enough period detail to be very engaging.

Cumberbatch reads clearly, with style and character.

The story had a slightly frustrating end but apart from that I thought the book was great.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Brenda
  • 10-30-14

Fab story great narration

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7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard Putman
  • 10-24-17

Spectacular narration

I doubt I could have managed this book in print alone; but I might buy it for further study now having understood and enjoyed much of the text due to the spectacular narrration.

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  • MS RUTH SHAW
  • 03-26-17

Better than I recollected

Read this when I was 16 and something about it stuck in my mind.At 54 as a nine years sober alcohic it has greater meaning...the obsession..the self will run riot...it is brilliant.

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  • Alexandra Moran
  • 01-02-17

Loved the narrator but sometimes difficult to follow

Really liked this audio book but did find it difficult to follow at times. Due to the style of the writing it was sometimes hard to know what was happening. Took me two goes to get into it.

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  • Mintsauce
  • 12-05-16

Outstanding performance, beautiful book

A beautifully written book, that I suspect I may not have engaged quite so fully with, were it not for Benedict Cumberbatch's peerless performance.

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  • Luke H.
  • 11-17-16

Brilliantly read

The story was excellent.
My only gripe was sometimes the audio levels dipped rather low when Benedict whispered. Too low to hear. Perhaps the master track could have used some audio compression to compensate.

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  • Ellen L
  • 04-30-15

Brilliant actor

having a book read to you adds another dimension to the story. If you hate the voice and if you are familiar with a story but dislike the actor's take on the story it makes for a painful listen. Fortunately this was not a painful few hours. I am a fan of Mr Cumberbatch and I have to say his involvement in this was one of the reasons I decided to listen. I'm glad I did. I think I could listen to him forever.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful