Master of Formalities

Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Length: 14 hrs and 58 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4,421 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Even when finding oneself engaged in interstellar war, good form must be observed. Our story is set thousands of years after the Terran Exodus, where two powerful, planet-dominating families - the elegant House Jakabitus and the less refined Hahn Empire - have reached a critical point in their generations-long war. Master Hennik, the Hahn ruler's only son, has been captured, and the disposition of his internment may represent a last and welcome chance for peace.

Enter Wollard, the impeccably distinguished and impossibly correct Master of Formalities for House Jakabitus. When he suggests that Master Hennik be taken in as a ward of the House, certain complications arise. Wollard believes utterly and devotedly in adhering to rules and good etiquette. But how does one inform the ruler of a planet that you are claiming his son as your own - and still create enough goodwill to deescalate an intergalactic war?

©2015 Scott Meyer (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Looking forward to the sequel

This new Scott Meyer book takes place in the interesting context of a very formalistic future. The story involved a fair bit of set-up, as I imagine it is intended to be the first in a series. This set-up made the the story initially feel a bit slow and left me wondering where it was heading. But the action and the pace picked up in the second half, the pieces fell into place and, in the end, I found the book very satisfying.

I really appreciate Scott Meyer's writing style. He produces genuinely funny and cleverly written stories. He never gets pretentious or pedantic. He impresses with his skill and with subtlety, and not through the (over)use of a thesaurus or clever references to obscure tidbits of knowledge. I look forward to the next instalment in this new series.

Luke Daniels is a great narrator and, for me, the voice of Scott Meyer.

Highly recommended, especially to other Scott Meyer fans.

25 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Meyer and Daniels do it again.

Master of Formalities is a lot different, but at the same time, very much the same as the Magic 2.0 series. It's different in that the plot is not at all like Meyer's previous books. However, the characters and Daniels performance of them are very reminiscent of them.

What Meyer's does best is create characters that are on the surface more like caricatures (in that they seem over the top) but as you get to know them they have a depth to them. There's a strange charm that he gives to even the villains of his novels. It's hard to describe, but I love it.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story, but who doesn't mind it getting a little silly. This is not hard core science fiction. It's very entertaining.

63 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Ultra polite hilarity is considered good form!

What made the experience of listening to Master of Formalities the most enjoyable?

Scott Meyer’s sense of humor combined with Luke Daniel’s hilarious performance and interpretation of character voices inspired outright laughter.

This whole audio book amounts to a great comedy as one listens to the antics of a very stiff, duty bound and polite staff as they try to manage a daily routine that starts spiraling out of control when the royal family takes in Master Hennik, an unwilling and unpleasant political pawn turned royal family member.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The entire cast of characters interacting is so great that it is really hard to pick a favorite character. But Hennik is just so hilariously rotten and petty when he is trying to irritate Wollard and the rest of House Jakabitus that he has to be on the top of the list.

Which scene was your favorite?

Every scene where Wollard is trying to calm down Queen Jakabitus after Hennik successfully embarrasses her is hilarious.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Queen Jakabitus' son chooses to use Hennik's torments for self improvement and develope more of a backbone rather than letting everyone continue to take advantage of his quiet and reserved nature.

Any additional comments?

Listen to this book. It's hilarious, clean, laugh out loud fun.

13 people found this helpful

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Downton Abbey in Outer Space

Scott Meyer's novels have been getting incrementally better with each offering. In his first departure from his Magic 2.0 series, he hits a home run. At least with me he does -- looking at other reviews, Master of Formalities is firmly in love-it or hate-it land.

Three elements made it work for me. Most important is humor. When an audiobook makes me laugh out loud in the street, I'm going to like it. Especially funny is Hennik, son of the Hahn emperor, captured by rival House Jakabitus and adopted rather than executed or imprisoned. Being from a culture where the highest art is annoying those around you to the extreme, Hennik's antics prove to be downright hilarious.

Master of voices Luke Daniels, who can sometimes choose vocalizations as annoying as the best Hahn (cf. Philip from Magic 2.0, whose voice is reprised here for Lord Jakabitus, though he doesn't have enough lines to be a problem), has chosen a perfect accent for Hennik (and for his even more annoying father, when he appears on the scene). Meyer has written some riotous scenes for Hennik, and Daniels improves on them with a well-chosen and well-executed voice.

But humor alone is not enough. This book is cleverly plotted, as various factions try to either resolve or exacerbate the war between the Jakabitus planet and the Hahn home world and characters act out several subplots. And it makes some good points about larger issues -- political correctness, soldiers coming home from war, building character through adversity, and sports, to name a few -- without ever losing sight of its prime directive -- laughs.

Best of all, despite being superficially science fiction -- set in the far future on distant planets with speculative technologies -- this is really Downton Abbey in outer space. There are the erudite members of the ruling family and their servants. The title character, the master of formalities, is exactly like the head butler. There is the cook, her none too bright assistant, the head maid, all the different servers -- and the rules and manners are all very much like those of a Victorian noble house.

Being a fan of the PBS series, and a growing fan of Meyer (who is operating in Scalzi territory), I really like this one. The story is completely resolved, but the very funny last line clearly sets up potential future entries in what may prove to be another series.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Tale of an absurd political system, set in space

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

Scott Meyer is a talented story crafter. I think his Magic 2.0 series is brilliant, and I've gone back and listened to those a 2nd time. This book is clever, and on the whole it is enjoyable, but it does start slow and has moments where I feel no sentient creature would do such things, formalities or no. (There's really not a lot of action in this book--it's more of a story of dysfunctional politics.) I did make it through the entire book and was relieved to find I felt satisfied--there were moments when I thought that might not happen. So, yeah, it's good.

Luke Daniels is a brilliant audiobook performer. I've loved every minute of the Magic 2.0 series and Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series. (That's off the top of my head..I'm sure there are others.) I think his performance on this book brings the experience up a whole star.

Would you be willing to try another book from Scott Meyer? Why or why not?

I would eagerly try more from Scott Meyer, though Master of Formalities isn't my favorite book by him.

Which scene was your favorite?

Is it too much of a spoiler to say "the twist near the end"? I mean, shouldn't most stories these days have some twist?

8 people found this helpful

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Slow start, strong finish

It was a hard book for me to get into, but I'm glad I stuck with it. About half way through, I started to appreciate the brilliance and then ending was satisfying. Well done and enjoyable story.

20 people found this helpful

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Entertaining and quirky

Where does Master of Formalities rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Master of formalities is far from an incredible work of art but as with Scott Meyer's stories it's quite quirky and entertaining.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I enjoyed the character of Master Hennick most of all, probably because of his development during the story.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I wasn't so much as moved, this isn't a moving book, but I was quite entertained by the hostage crisis in the Sports room. The ideas presented in the book seem to be presented in quite a light-hearted manner but are actually quite complicated and have a lot of depth. This mixture of depth and light-heartedness is what I enjoy about Scott Meyer's work.

7 people found this helpful

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Political formality has never been so boring

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The plot follows painfully illogical and unlikely plot driving points only to set the scene for aha moments similar to what M. Night Shyamalan is known for.

Would you recommend Master of Formalities to your friends? Why or why not?

This book would not be recommended as the main theme of the book centers around "Sports" which is idiotic and war which set up a interesting use of cloning but does not capitalize on it. So little happens in the book yet it all is done through monotonous chartering and some "Sports".

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

If I wanted to sleep at the movies with a background of people only talking all the time then that is a movie I would go see.

28 people found this helpful

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Confusing

What could Scott Meyer have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I simply adore the Meyer's Wizard series, and really enjoyed the Authorities. I found this book to be way too clever for it's own good, to the point where it was flat out confusing. The whole story setup was just too odd. I really enjoy Meyer's wit, but there was a line that got crossed where things stopped being witty, and just became absurd for me. It's at the point where I'm doubting I'll even finish the book. Seriously, I stopped listening to this at some point, and listened to the Wizard series again.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

27 people found this helpful

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so much fun

scott meyer does an amazing job playing with his world and characters to bring together a fun and satisfying experience. using the scufi setting to the advantage of his stoty perfectly without getting caught up in displays of technology. he keeps his story driven by.the characters who are engaging and have depth. there is action, subtrefuge, machinations and plotting along with some plain good humor and fun. well done.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Neil
  • 08-04-15

Great book

If you liked Off to be the Wizard you will like this. It's not quite as funny but it's a great read.
Like Daniels performance was great as always.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Frank
  • 07-31-15

Brilliant!

Fantastic Hitchhikers guide humour. Brilliantly performance with colourful characters and an interesting back story. I will be listening to this one again.

7 people found this helpful

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  • John Irwin
  • 07-30-15

enthralling performance, excellent read

like all Scott Meyer titles, if you see the twist coming you're not looking hard enough.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • charles
  • 01-30-19

Not worth with

I've loved other Scott Meyer's books but this just didn't go anywhere. i found it slow and the story never really picked up. Daniels attempt at making the story sound interesting worked but the story didn't match. I'd skip this one and listen to the magic 2.0 series again

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Trog Father
  • 06-27-18

"Yes Minister" in the Future taken to Space

Before you get the wrong idea this book can in no way be classed as a comedy. Don't get me wrong there were some amusing moments in it but it is probably not something that you'll find yourself laughing at.

It is like "Yes Minister" and "Yes Prime Minister" in that in theory the Civil Service does not run the country in the UK, but, in a way, they kinda do really.

Very interesting and enjoyable book that kept me interested and looking forward to continuing right up until the end. In a way you could also say its a very cynical look at the worlds politics.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andre
  • 03-25-17

Awesome

Scott Meyer knocks it out the park with a sci-fi take on his wonderful dry and awk

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 04-06-16

Simply great!

Since "Off to be a Wizard", I started listening to audiobooks from Scott Meyer and I just find his sotries great! Simple, but with unexpected twists, no extreme violence, happy endings (so far, I do hope that continues!) and easy listening. I relax and laugh with his books and for me it's the perfect companion for power walks in the morning!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alex
  • 02-20-16

Odd pronunciation slightly spoils a great story

It's interesting that Luke Daniels is an audiobook narrator. I find his way of reading somewhat offputting and distracting. Some words he outright mispronounces (shone like "shown" rather than "on" - maybe that's an American accent thing, however; I'm British) but the most distracting is that sentences like '"Alright," he grunted.' are read as if two distinct sentences: '"Alright." He grunted.' as if the character said "alright" and then followed that with a grunt. Maybe I'm reading too much into this but it was certainly distracting to me.

On the plus side, the characters' voices (and accents) are pretty consistent and distinct (or similar where appropriate).

I quite enjoyed the story. It's a bit of a slow starter, but I did get into it and found it enjoyable. I won't spoil the story but I must admit I saw a different outcome coming towards the end. Still, the one I got was also fun and interesting.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TJ
  • 11-18-15

Enjoyable

Not as great as the Magic 2.0 series but a fun story which I enjoyed throughout.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Maisy Mulgrath
  • 05-23-20

Sorry no

Formalities are not my thing unless they are comical and interesting. So of course I thought futuristic butlery and pomp would be fun and entertaining. Sadly not. It just reads like an instruction book on how to serve royalty. There are some funny bits, but they are few and far between boring dialogue about etiquette, war blatherings, and vague descriptions of planets we’re supposed to envision in our minds. I loved the 2.0 series, so I wished this one was as good. No where near though. Bummer.

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  • Stewart
  • 08-16-16

By far Scott Meyers best

This book has a lot more depth that the Magic 2.0 series. The characters and story of this book and The Authorities are much more entertaining and developed than those in the Magic 2.0 series (and they've had 3 books). This was great, get it.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Christo
  • 03-20-16

Another great Scott Meyer book

If you could sum up Master of Formalities in three words, what would they be?

Witty, smart, entertaining

What other book might you compare Master of Formalities to, and why?

ranks alongside the 'Off to be the wizard' trilogy.

What about Luke Daniels’s performance did you like?

Great narration by Luke Daniels, there were often times when you thought someone else was doing a new character voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Meyer certainly gets you to care for the characters and frustration builds as things don't start to go their way.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Guildfan
  • 01-31-19

Audio Issues

I loved the book and the performance by Luke Daniels is outstanding. However early on in the book the audio appears to be too highly compressed so that it distracts from an otherwise fantastic audio book.

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  • Nina
  • 04-25-17

loved the story, and it was really well read

loved the story and it was really well read by the performer. His voice acting was quite good

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian
  • 02-15-17

It wasn't terrible

Picked this up after listening to the Off to Be A Wizard books. It wasn't as good of a story, but performed quite well (as you'd expect). The characters are pedantic and the struggles they face are boring. It's a cool world with microscopic robots that can do anything, two great houses at war for generations, servants in love. But what the author does (or rather, doesn't do) with his characters and the world he's created is disappointing.