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Publisher's Summary

In 1349, one small town in Germany disappeared and was never resettled. Tom, a contemporary historian, and his theoretical-physicist girlfriend, Sharon, become interested. By all logic, the town should have survived, but it didn't. Why? What was special about Eifelheim that it utterly disappeared more than 600 years ago?

In 1348, as the Black Death is gathering strength across Europe, Father Deitrich is the priest of the village that will come to be known as Eifelheim. A man educated in science and philosophy, he is astonished to become the first contact between humanity and an alien race from a distant star when their interstellar ship crashes in the nearby forest.

Tom, Sharon, and Father Deitrich have a strange and intertwined destiny of tragedy and triumph in this brilliant novel by the winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award.

©2006 Michael Flynn; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award nominee, Best Novel, 2007

"Another meticulously researched, intense, mesmerizing novel...for readers seeking thoughtful science fiction of the highest order." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Flynn masterfully achieves an intricate panorama of medieval life, full of fascinatingly realized human and Krenken characters whose fates interconnect with poignant irony." (Publishers Weekly)
"Compellingly weaves past and present together in a dialog of faith and science....Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • mORRINSVILLENew Zealand
  • 09-03-07

Poignant, Profound, Absorbing and deeply moving.

This story set in a 13th century hamlet deep within the Black Forest has been one of my most rewarding Audible experiences. I have been an avid reader of “speculative” and “philosophical” sci-fi since childhood and seldom have I encountered a more beautifully imagined and considered work. The central character is the priest Dietrich, highly intelligent, a thoughtful leader to his small community. When confronted with life changing events, he rises to the challenges and confronts circumstances that would confound lesser men and holds fast his people against threatening chaos. 700 years later a historian and his physicist wife become involved in the mystery that is “Efilhiem”, the thriving village that is suddenly abandoned and never resettled.
The plot is finely drawn, the narration outstanding, the conclusion poignant. Profound, moving, absorbing and informative. Thoroughly recommended, 10 out of 10.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A tower of a novel!

It took me a little while to get into this one, but then I appreciated all the work put into the research to write this. After restarting it a few times I finally got into the characters and was entranced throughout the last half of the book. This was a very creative idea for a novel and I applaud the writer. The narrator was also excellent, I don't believe a Scott Brick or a George Guidall could've done this one any better. Be patient through the beginning and be rewarded throughout the rest of the book. Listen & enjoy!!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Noe
  • Edinburg, TX, United States
  • 02-02-09

Potentially life-changing.

I've read/listened to thousands of books in my life - none better than this gem. Less science-fiction and more a deep insight into the human condition, Eifelheim takes us to some very strange places in order to make us look within our souls and ponder about our place in the universe. When residents of an isolated Medieval village in the Black Forest come into contact with extraterrestrials, the results, as portrayed by the author, are breathtaking. The sci-fi elements, which could have easily detracted from the beautiful, philosophical tone of the narrative, are wonderfully understated. This novel, in the same league with Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End," is enhanced in audio by an expertly-handled narration. Highly recommended.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting but...

The story line was quite interesting, and I enjoyed the interplay of past and present. At the end I felt questions were unresolved. But I felt the character development was shallow--leaving merely caricatures. I could never quite buy in to the dialog of the mysterious visitors.

Once I got into the story, it was worth the listen, but this is not the story I anticipated.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

compassionate dark ages

I usually do not like science fiction set in the historical past. Invariability the characters end up meeting Abe Lincoln or someone like that. it just seems like a hokey literary device.

This book shows the "dark ages" and its inhabitants with compassion and human depth. This is wrapped around the unknowable question What if aliens did arrive on Earth in our past. These aliens did not build the pyramids or anything so fantastic they were just regular folks and after some time their "humanity" shows.

The present time setting, or a little in our future, was a little clunky but not too
bad; it allowed the reader to find out the truth
of the really interesting characters those of the
dark ages. And as it turns out not so dark after

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • SEATTLE, WA, United States
  • 01-02-13

History and the future?

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

Absolutely one of the best audio books I have heard in a very long time. The narration alone is worth the credit ( not surprisingly, as Heald is alway excellent ) but in this absolutely stunning. ( And difficult to do, once you listen you will understand.)

The juxstaposition of the past and present, with many connecting threads that are not always immediately evident, highly compelling charcters, and a story that pulls you in ( and keeps you in ) make this once of the "must listen" books I know of, not just in it's genre, but in general.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Both the philosophers.

Which character – as performed by Anthony Heald – was your favorite?

They all work very very well, but the "visitors" he does especially well.

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

The passings of the visitors was intense.

Any additional comments?

You must download and listen to this book.Do it for yourself. Do it for pleasure, and learning, but just do it. Now.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Ron
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • 02-03-09


This was a fantastic listen. I was riveted. I highly recommend this one. I usually listen to these while cutting the yard or doing odd jobs around the house. I often found myself pausing and just standing around listening intently. It really grabs your attention and your imagination. Ecellent research and well developed characters make this a superb book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Monica
  • Oceanside, CA, United States
  • 04-17-09

Almost a gem

Those who enjoy Umberto Eco's novels might like this combination of historical novel with science fiction. It's an intriguing idea: what would happen if scientifically advanced space aliens landed in a 14th century German village and encountered there a highly educated priest who tries to convert them to Christianity? How would the superstitious peasants respond? This really is an interesting story. It has depth, intelligence, a nice measure of pathos, and is well researched. The intellectual discussions in the novel are extensive and dense, however. Although they're well done, they won't be to the taste of those looking for escapist fare.

If you speak even an elementary level of German, though, I suggest reading this in print instead of listening to this production. Although the narrator actually is quite good on a general level, he has no concept whatever of how to pronounce German. Worse, he makes no effort to find out until the very last sections of the book, when he marginally, sporadically improves. I don't expect perfect pronunciation of foreign languages in audiobooks, but actors and directors in professional productions at least should find out how the consonants are pronounced. This actor reads every German word as though it were written in American English, including the simple "ja" (which means "yes," and is pronounced "yah," not "jaw.") He does, however, pronounce "Herr," which in this case means "lord," close to correctly. (The "H" in German is pronounced, as in English.) I found the constant, egregious mistakes to be literally eye-rolling. It ruined my enjoyment of the book, which otherwise might have had me turning handsprings.

I may buy a print copy and read it, without the aggravation. The book itself is worth a second look.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 10-13-08

Thoroughly enjoyable

Although I can see that others didn't get this book, I found it a very enjoyable read, and I returned to see what else Michael Flynn has written. I think if you enjoy science fiction and history, particularly the middle ages, you'll find lots to enjoy. Having recently read "World Without End," which is about the same time period, I enjoyed hearing about life in Germany during this period. It worked for me, and I would recommend it highly, with the caveat that obviously some didn't have the patience for the details of life in the middle ages.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

What a marvelous read this is!

Mr Flynn must be both well read and an arduous researcher. Not only has he masterfully inter-weaved the "alien" theme into the historical background of European 14th century life, but he has done so with sensitive balance between the two seemingly different universes. The whole tale is further bound together by the periodic return to modern day research by modern scholars, whose discoveries serve as skeleton for the intrigues of the past.
The writers acuity and detailed knowledge about Medieval, life - music, religious, social, historical should receive high accolades, while his philosophical, and humorous gems sparkle throughout.
Even Mr Flynn's aliens are different as they don't resemble of the stock-type aliens we have been presented with in the past and this, in some manner, helps to maintain a focus on the human interaction and drama, instead of making it a typical sterile science fiction sequence of events.
The performer should also be complimented by his most artistic and insightful rendition of this work. Perhaps the book would have less impact if performed by a lesser artist?
I tried to find another book by this author, but the other book seems to be less favored, so we shall wait.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Sean
  • 02-14-08

Well worth a listen

A superbly written book. The author is clearly an expert on medieval history and culture. He weaves a wonderfully intricate story drawing subtle comparisons between religion and science, humanity and alien mindsets. The plot itself is a little disjointed; it flip-flops between the 14th century and the present day. However, the vast majority of the novel takes place in the past, which leaves the part of the plot set in the present virtually redundant. In addition, we learn that the book's hero, the priest Father Dietrich, has an unsavoury history which receives no real elaboration over the entire course of the story. In fact, it feels a lot like this book is merely the first in a series. I certainly hope so.

The narrator got on my nerves at first; he suffers, near the start of the audiobook, from that affectation that afflicts many public speakers, namely ignoring full stops. But he soon breaks that habit and goes on to give a flawless delivery, dropping in and out of German and Latin, and a strange alien monotone. But make no mistake: this is not a sci-fi novel, it is a period piece exploring the place of rational thought in a word governed by religious superstition, and the touching plight of a stranded community trying to come to terms with its fate. If the present-day part of this story had been as coherent as the past, I would have given it the full 5 stars. Definitely give this a listen.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ian
  • 04-13-13

Confusing in audio form

I did enjoy the book but the story is complex, shifting as it does between the past and present. Initially the links appeared contrived but stick with the story and you will find that it does all make sense. Ultimately it is one of those books which is better in print rather than audio.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Martin
  • 02-03-10

Enjoyable easy listen.

Aliens, the plague, historical fiction, physics, religion, friendship and philosophy all rolled into a very enjoyable listen. I have read reviews regarding the parts set in the present day being out of place, personally I found that they added to the story as a whole and I liked the way that you got snippets that the characters in the past did not know about. You do roughly know where the story is going, simply due to history, but the journey to the end of the story is quite relaxing and thought provoking in a very comfortable kind of way. The kind of audiobook I like to close my eyes to while listening, so it was obviously well narrated too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 11-16-14

Intelligent medieval SciFi

Utterly brilliant, totally different, a blend of historical 'cadfael' style story with Quatermass and the Pit Aliens... Sounds ridiculous but reads convincingly, well researched, well written, engaging, intelligent... I feel like I'm a better person for reading this, and I haven't felt that since 'Jonathan strange'.