Greenmantle  By  cover art

Greenmantle

By: John Buchan
Narrated by: Christian Rhodska

Publisher's summary

Exclusively from Audible:

A worthy sequel to The Thirty Nine Steps and the second of five instalments, Greenmantle sees the return of Richard Hannay as he is sent on a secret mission to weaken Germany's efforts during the First World War.

Accompanied by his trusty sidekicks, Pete Pienaar, John S. Blenkiron and Sandy Arbuthnot, Richard travels across war-torn Europe searching for a man with a secret. A prophet by reputation, the man possesses key information that could guarantee British victory, and he goes by the name of Greenmantle.

In this epic tale, John Buchan ignites our imagination and transports us to an unknown world full of intrigue, suspense and unexpected plot twists. From Germany to Russia and Constantinople, the detectives travel far and wide and encounter some of the greatest literary characters of our time, not least of which is Hilda Von Einem, the evil yet breathtakingly beautiful temptress.

Having been inspired by his own experiences whilst serving in the British army, John Buchan had great success with the Richard Hannay series, which was considered to have the perfect balance between a plausible yet entertaining story.

As well as a celebrated author, Buchan was also a published historian, editor, war correspondent, lawyer, government administrator, MP and director of a publishing house. Clearly an ambitious and intelligent man, his wit, imagination and acumen are easy to detect in the thrilling adventure that is Greenmantle, and we hope that it is enjoyed for many years to come.

Narrator Biography

Christian Rodska is an English television and voice actor best known for his role in the 1970's series Follyfoot.

From the The Monuments Men and The Eagle of the Ninth to The Likely Lads, Z Cars, The Tomorrow People, Coronation Street, Bergerac and Casualty , his extensive and diverse acting career has led him to become a highly solicited radio and audiobook narrator.

He has now voiced over 150 unabridged audiobooks including Winston Churchill's biographies, Evelyn Waugh's Men at Arms and Sebastian Faulks' A Possible Life. He has been praised for his ability to vary in vocal pace and style and as such, Christian boasts 12 Earphone Awards from Audiofile Magazine.

©1960 John Buchan (P)2014 Audible, Inc

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    4 out of 5 stars

Not the 39 Steps

I picked this up because Christopher Hitchens references it several times in "Arguably" and I don't have anybody who's recommendations I trust more.

I have enjoyed other works by Buchan and this is also an enjoyable listen. You have to be willing and able to filter through the language and attitudes of a bygone era but in truth they are why it is important that works like this continue to be read. Buchan's stereotypes are all here from questionable "foreigners" to superhuman Scotsmen and crass Americans.

The story is interesting and the moral simplicity of the situations makes it easy for the action to keep rolling along. You know how its going to end before it ever begins and you know who the bad guys are even before they take up their place in the story.

Its Boys Own stuff but good fun for all that. Not as tightly written as "The 39 Steps" but still enjoyable.

I chose this version among many because I usually enjoy Christian Rhodska's narrations. I have to say this is definitely not among his best. The characterisations are occasionally clumsy and often intrusive. One of the characters in particular ended up making me wince every time he spoke. It may well be that I am especially fussy about this but I always feel that if I become aware of the narrator while I'm listening to the story they have failed in their task. Do less. Do less.

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  • S. McBride
  • 08-06-22

Didn’t age well

Ok but dated.
Also the sound levels are infuriating, has to be played really loud to hear the very soft narration of some of the parts.

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  • Pamela
  • 06-09-22

The Ripping-est of Ripping Yarns

First I want to say the performance of Christian Rhodska is worthy of an audiobook Oscar.,from his wide range of accents, pacing and carrying the adventure in a most enthralling manner.
The salient feature of a ripping yarn is that once you're well into the book, whatever flaws there might be in plot, plausibility, or characterization, it's near impossible to put down.
It must be accepted this is a period piece and captures accepted social mores and manners of the time. The remarkable thing is that in spite of all these shortcomings, I could scarcely put this book down. Buchan's prose, however laden with WWI jargon, sings. His heroes bound larger than life from the pages. And those villains... oh those villains! Rosa Klebb and Ernst Blofield have nothing on them. Heady stuff indeed.

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  • JanettheGannet
  • 08-14-23

You need a sense of humour......

It was rather a boys own adventure and obviously quite old fashioned but exciting if you like action stuff. However i now understand how we got an empire and why so many people hated us for it: every other paragraph contains some racist slur so you need to be able to laugh at the attitudes of the time or you won't get through this book. The narrator did a good job and i imagine that's how the author would've imagined Richard Hannay's voice in his head although there were clearly a few words he wasn't familiar with.

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  • Kilrymont
  • 08-02-23

Gung-ho nonsense

Jolly hockey sticks! Jolly fine show!
Are summaries not too far off the mark - if a super-short summary were needed.
Baddies are killed, but never by any of the core heroes - which would've blemish'd their saintly heroism. Bond would've let them have it without a second thought, but not these ridiculous empty shirts of characters.
Were these Buchan tales intended for adults - or public schoolboys?
In a book called "Greenmantle", we might be forgiven for expecting to meet the personage going by this name.
We don't. He's kept out of frame, identified as near his life's end, and soon expires - but only in the speech bubbles of others. The chief opponents are fortuitously slain by events, and the hero Hannah pursues a hilltop he's dreamed about. But without telling his companions why he's doing this.
Buchan's books are very dependent on strings of fortunate-coincidences so remotely unlikely as to make any plan based on such as only fit for the analytic capacity of a lad too young and innocent to be able to see that such "plans" are no plans at all, but nonsense, jam packed with personal and national arrogances - plus what would later be looked askance at - and labelled as "racism". Brits are heroic chaps, a sole and highly stoic American is somehow shoehorned into this take - why? For US marketing of book sales? Or as some way of suggesting to America that they might consider getting involved in the affairs of European interests - and favouring us, their cousins. Was American isolationism fully established as early as this little book was set?
Does this book's attitudes to the peoples of other countries exemplify those current then? With the concept of racism as an undesirable label still far into the future, and by many decades, that doesn't seem unlikely. The idea of "Johnny Foreigner" is not new, and a concept now no longer seen as tolerable. For those too young to have heard of this, it was a derogatory blanket term coined to lump all non-British (but in reality really non-English) persons into a sort of ragbag of unfortunates not blessed by British parentage or birth.) And by being, by definition, inferior.
All of which, in these heavily post-imperial times, may sound pretty strange to ears too young to have experienced what's just been outlined.
If you want more of the same, Buchan wrote several such with Hannay as the core character. The best known is the one made into a distorted version of itself in an English film with Robert Donat in the key role. "The 39 Steps" is what to look for. Like this one, it's a paper-chase based on having witnessed a chance onstage incident that's cleverly conceived by the author. But after that idea is made clear, the rest is the predictable set of half witted runabout chases rather like the book this review centres on.
It's what Buchan does. (Rather in the style of Rider Haggard at his worst)
So. Don't have any high expectations if about to launch this audio book.
Rodska is an able reader, well able to handle most - if not all - needed vocalisations well. His work in the audio versions of Churchill's wartime memoirs is memorable stuff. (Those are highly recommended.)

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  • I. R. Legg
  • 07-31-23

Boys own story. Great fun.

A real Ripping Yarn. Of its time but wonderful, interesting take of the First World War swing it was written before the Somme!

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  • J from Yorkshire
  • 02-05-23

Excellent

A really exciting and interesting adventure. A hero you can identify with and also admire. Beautifully written and performed. The narrator is very good with all the voices and all the different accents. The sound quality is also excellent.

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  • Penny Larkin
  • 01-03-23

Buchan at his best!!

Another great story and narration. I now need to read the other three Hannay stories.

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  • Richard Pearson
  • 08-29-22

Excellent

This was a wonderful story, of a time in history when justice, right, decency, and honesty were accepted and valued.

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