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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Kipling's masterpiece Kim is his final and most famous work and one of the first and greatest espionage stories ever written. It explores the life of Kimball O'Hara, an Irish orphan who spends his childhood as a vagrant in Lahore. When he befriends an aged Tibetan lama his life is transformed as he is requested to accompany him on a mysterious quest to find the legendary River of the Arrow and achieve Enlightenment. The pilgrimage will take them across the vast continent, across rivers, and up the Himalayas.

While Kim wishes to take part in the imperialistic Great Game, learning espionage from the British secret service, he feels spiritually bound to the lama. Kim has a difficult choice to make: his companion or his country?

A rich and colourful depiction of India's exotic landscape and culture in the imperialistic world of the late 19th century, this audiobook celebrates their friendship and explores a young man's quest for identity.

Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist who was the first English language author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Some of his most memorable works include The Jungle Book and Just So Stories.

In 1998 Kim was ranked at Number 78 on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003 it was listed on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's 'best-loved novel'.

Narrator Biography

Three-time Olivier Award winner actor Alex Jennings has had an extensive career with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. His recent stage performances have included Willy Wonka in 2014's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical and Professor Henry Higgins in the 2016 Australian 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady. In 2006 he played Prince Charles opposite Helen Mirren in The Queen and has had other roles in films such as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006) and The Lady in the Van (2015). His television work has included the BBC TV series Cranford (2007) and long running legal drama Silk (2011-2014). In 2016 he featured in the Netflix series The Crown and the ITV series Victoria. He has narrated many audiobooks including Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which in 2008 was chosen as one of the top 40 audiobooks of all time.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Stunning Experience

I finally read this classic because I wanted the background on the character when reading "The Game" by Laurie R. King as part of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. What I got was a stunning and fulfilling experience that I wouldn't have missed for the world!

Not being an expert on Indian dialects, I can't say if Sam Dastor's narration is technically correct, but it is perfect for enhancing the listening experience. I came to know and love the many characters as though they were real people, and Dastor's performance was what brought them to life.

The story itself was one that the summary didn't really prepare me for. I had at first thought that this tale of wandering through what for me is an alien culture wouldn't be something that could involve and capture me on a personal level. But I discovered that some things are truly universal, regardless of the cultural trappings, and I was captivated. Like so many in the tale who came to love him, Kim is one of those characters who somehow worked his way into my heart and I will carry him with me for many years to come. The same must be said of Kim's holy man. Other characters have written themselves in my heart as well.

I am so glad, whatever the outside motivation, that I finally read this book and had the opportunity to meet and love Kim and all of those around him. My only regret is that I deprived myself of knowing Kim for so long.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Books that are Firm Favourites

Would you consider the audio edition of Kim to be better than the print version?

I first met Kim at High School. It was a setbook for our English Literature class. That was over 60 years ago!! I have carried that book around the world with me - I travel quite a lot - and read it on planes and trains. Sometime ago I found out about a version on DVD, which I purchased. Now I have it for my computer and MP3 player (which I listen to on my treadmill) and I am still listening to it. Mr Kipling encapsulated the essence of the time in History and where it took place to perfection. Thanks for the audible version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Kim?

When he gets acquainted with Llama.

Have you listened to any of Sam Dastor’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I have never listened to any other Sam Dastor performances to my knowledge.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, it is the kind of book which must be listened to in its separate parts. However, if the occasion arose, it could well be listened to all in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Do some more audio books like this please.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Astonishing

WIth a scope as broad as the world and as narrow as a single boy, Kipling creates a masterful work. Though we associate him with jingoism and colonial oppression, "Kim" illustrates the author's ambivalence in a way that dashed my preconceptions about him. Unless I'm sorely mistaken, Kim's wisdom and humanity really blossom in his interactions with the natives of India. His innate guile - what catapults him to importance in the "Great Game" - is an act, and only effective because so many odd and wonderful characters willingly put their trust in him. Even the minor characters Kipling draws most broadly and closest to stereotype possess an ineluctable complexity.

The narrator alone would rate five stars.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Characters and the Colors of India

Wonderful reading captures the varied voices of the characters from many cultures within India, our street urchin Kim, the Tibetan Lama, a Muslim horse-trader, Irish priest, and a variety of upright Englishmen as well as folks from several castes. Kipling's story ranges all over India, his language is descriptive without excess, and the plot has never a dull moment. A tale I'll gladly hear again and share with others.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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A wonderful friendship

Any additional comments?

The most interesting, and shocking fact about history is just how young so many of the military commanders and leaders actually were down through time. One of the most famous, Alexander III of Macedon, was barely into his 20's when he began conquering the known world. Wars today are still fought by people the same age as Alexander (some even younger), and there will always be glory in war for a young man wanting to make a name for himself.

Kim begins with a gun, a giant canon representing the strength, struggle, and oppression of India and the people who wanted control of the subcontinent. The book ends with a choice. In between we get the education of young Kim by his elders who see great promise in this talented, smart, cunning, and devious boy. Some wish to use him for the Great Game, that struggle for control over India (and now Pakistan), others wish to see him stay true to his native people (though little do they know he's actually white - a 'Sahib'), and one man, Teshoo Lama, wishes to set him on the path of 'the way', the true path of eternal salvation and freedom from sin.

And this struggle for Kim's soul - both figuratively and literally - makes up the heart of the book, and not so much for the character's sake, bot for our own. Kipling is forcing us to decide which way we would choose to go (war, peace, or indifference) by letting us inhabit a main character who makes us feel smarter than we probably are in real life, more cunning than we are even on our best of days, braver, stronger, and more experienced than we would admit to being and then leaving the final decision open to our own interpretation as a test to see what we would do with Kim's talents and teachers influence.

The novel does seem to aim for an audience of boys aged somewhere between 10 and 16 and Kipling does seem to be square in the camp of hoping young men will grow up to choose the way of peace, like the Lama, yet he doesn't beat you over the head with his morality, either. The life of the Great Game is very exciting, could lead to great renown, money, women, respect: all the things us boys dream of when we're young (and pretty much till the day we die old men, too). And even the simple life of just living your life out with basic comfort, a family, your head down and nose clean (the typical life most of us wind up choosing) is here seen as exotic, profitable, and, at the least, interesting.

In fact considering how much of the novel is focused on the relationship between Kim and the Lama and how relatively little is devoted to a more exciting life, goes to show just how difficult it is to steer people away from war, from vain glory, from 'illusion' as the Lama would say. Just one encounter with a spy, with a Russian with a gun, with a mysterious gem trader can nearly undo years of fellowship with a peaceful Lama whose earthly reward is begging and heavenly reward is uncertain.

And so looking deeper into these decisions it seems much clearer how in that particular part of the world even today it's not so difficult to see why young men chose to join up with groups that offer far more attractive and comfortable rewards here on Earth instead of following the ways of a prophet. Life in Pakistan and the surrounding area is harsh, dangerous, other cultures and foreigners look down on them as dirty and stupid, there are no real opportunities, and so it's not hard to understand why on the one hand even a powerful religion such as Islam can teach peace and on the other young men will kill in the name of it.

So in many ways that I doubt Kipling would have ever imagined, Kim is a very relevant novel today that teaches us quite a bit about ourselves as well as the people of an 'exotic' land in the middle east and subcontinent. Kipling shows us the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, and though he aims for a younger audience, the book is filled with a wisdom that is well beyond the age of the intended reader.

I am a little uncomfortable with some of the generalizations Kipling paints with concerning nearly all the ethnicity. Mahbub Ali, a Muslim, is dangerously close to the stereotypical dangerous and shady Afghan Muslim, Hurree is a buffoon even when he's tough as nails and brilliant, Creighton is far too fatherly and pretty much stands for all of British colonialism, the two chaplains (a Catholic and a Protestant) are comic relief, and even the Lama seems very one-dimensional and straight out of a bad Hollywood interpretation of the wise, Tibetan monk.

Yet there is also real friendship between Kim and the Lama that transcends the page and in moments of crisis for the two of them genuinely had me worried for the outcome and that strength of the friendship helps sell the idea of the way of peace in the face of so many more tempting options. And it's that friendship on the page, the real art of the novel that made me really love the book despite its flaws.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

Kim is a fascinating and unique story from the colonial period written with great empathy and insight into the characters portrayed. San Dastor does an excellent job, recreating Kipling's colorful world of English colonials, Indian characters from various locals, religions and walks of life, and Kim, a memorable creation from the pen of a truly gifted author. Now I know why people of my parents and grandparents generation loved Kipling.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic reader of a great novel

Sam Dastor is the perfect reader for this -- his careful and sensitive reading of so many different Indian voices is fantastic.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Better than Bond, James Bond

Who knew that this was all about the training of a spy? A fascinating tale by one of the worlds best storytellers. I may listen to this again it's so good. These characters will be in my mind forever. Take your time and enjoy it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Enid
  • Hatton, ND, United States
  • 03-27-12

Superb Voice work on all characters!

Would you listen to Kim again? Why?

I would listen to Kim again-I like the story and have read it several times - also the narrator is absolutely superb in capturing the accents and cadences of all characters.

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

Perfect voicing of all characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but I haven't got that big a swath of time - so listening in chapters is just great.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A most excellent listen!

The narrator of this book did a wonderful job in capturing the multitude of voices presented by Rudyard Kipling in this book. It's a glimpse into colonial India that we don't hear any more. Kipling tells the story with sympathy and a command of the language that still impresses. I was touched more than once by his descriptions of Kim's travels about India and the people he meets along the way. Give it a listen, you won't be disappointed.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Sydney
  • 12-22-13

Splendid

Such a great pleasure, a classic novel of course but what is better than a reader you feel is thoroughly enjoying himself? The reader keeps his tone fairly flat in the narration, but this is only to prepare a canvas for his cast of characters, each of whom gets a vividly individual voice. I have no idea if they are accurate accents, they're rather music-hall versions maybe but they work extremely well with Kipling. You can anticipate his delight when he gets to do a conversation between a Frenchman and a Russian. A great version.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • J Halle
  • 05-09-12

Wonderful!

A splendid book, beautifully read. Moving, amusing, informative. A book to savour - again and again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa
  • 08-17-09

Beautifully read

A beautiful book, beautifully read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • dzadams
  • 03-29-16

Kipling

The narrator was amazing, best range of accents I've ever heard. I'm not going to criticise the story as it was an award winning book but the story was not my cup of tea.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 02-23-15

Great yarn

Most excellent tale of adventure with jolly fine writing and telling also.
So very easy to listen to with much exciting things going on and around

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-28-18

A tale you don’t want to end

Sam Dastur reads this so well. He really brings the story to louder. I hadn’t read it in an age and just loved this. Will listen again soon

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  • rosy barton
  • 08-05-18

Compelling and genuine

One of my favorite books brought to vivid life by a distinguished actor whose voice and expression exactly suits the book. What more could you ask?

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  • Bazz
  • 03-16-18

Outstanding.

I have known and enjoyed this work since I was a child, but this effort is truly amazing. The reading is masterful.

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  • Richard Irwin
  • 03-04-18

I am left amazed

expected a book about the British Raj, but instead got a book about enlightenment. I was amazed by this book and will read more Kipling

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  • simon
  • 02-20-18

magical

loved it. steeped in a love of India; of a time and a place and a people. spellbinding

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  • Dr. Colin F. Bindloss
  • 11-18-16

A gem.

This is a delight, well read and not, as you might expect, the rousing tale of the ruling Raj but a much more sympathetic appreciation of the tapestry of peoples that made up the India of the late nineteenth century. How much has changed I don't know but the descriptions of places and people seem to be remarkably true even now. The reader brings out the characters and their different ethnic and religious backgrounds wonderfully well - better than when you read it yourself - and particularly expresses the humour of many of the exchanges between the strong personalities involved. The Great Game was never so entertaining, I'm sure, but how exciting Kipling makes it sound! By the end Kim does seem to be a Friend to all the World.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • 08-02-18

A Good Narrator Brings a Classic Alive

Kipling has his detractors as an imperialist, jingoistic, adherent of eugenics. But he has written a sprawling story of the most perceptive sympathy with the Subcontinent, that ranks - in my mind - with the best classics of English language novel writing. It is in my personal top 5. Kipling didn’t win the Nobel for literature for nothing; he creates character with remarkable insight and a few, and then just a few more, penstrokes - and not a little cultural determinism. He celebrates the North Indian landscape and geography with remarkable poetry; the reader is truly transported. The cities of Lahore and Benares are brought to life with veracity and colour. A half-burned corpse bobbing along the Ganges as it flows past the ghats of the timeless holy city was as true an occurrence then as now. India is a land of rail; Kipling’s recounting of travel by train is spot on and, for my money was just the same 80 years on and I daresay is not dissimilar now. The amazing and accomplished Sam Dastor brings this brilliant story absolutely to life with a panoply of voices; his narration makes an already transcendentally accomplished piece of literature something even further beyond. I first read Kim 38 years ago and then 22 years ago - this Audible exclusive guarantees that I will read it again.