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Publisher's Summary

From master storyteller Bryce Courtenay comes a colorful, lusty story set in the 13th century, an epic tale of a Europe torn by religious intolerance. The story centers around Sylvia Honeyeater, who sings like an angel and can literally charm the birds from the trees. The narrative also features the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Francis of Assisi, the Muslim Sultan and his harem, and the fervor that becomes the Children's Crusade and then, later, the Crusades.
©2013 Christine Courtenay (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    47
  • 2 Stars
    22
  • 1 Stars
    10

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    5
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • G.
  • boulder creek, ca
  • 06-11-07

a departure for Bryce

I have listened to every one of BC's books available on Audible and have always been charmed by his sense of character, adventure, and history. He also paints vivid scenery throughout all his stories. Imagine my excitement when I perused here and found he had another novel! This book, I felt, lacked all of the afore mentioned qualities. Here we have a tale of religious zealotry which dwelt far to heavily on philosophy. Also, I was not impressed with his incorporation of historical and mythical? figures such as the pied piper (Gregory McGuire does a better job in Wicked), although I'm not against the idea, he just didn't pull it off. I also didn't like the narrator, she was okay until she spoke in the first person and then she had a really (I'm not kidding) high pitched and reedy tone. Icckk! She also pronounced all of her Vs as Ws since the story took place in Germany, which I found exceedingly irritating. I missed Humphry Bower, perhaps the best audible narrator I've ever heard. The reason I'm writing this review is that I find BC to be the very best author I have found on Audible , especially for long books, and this just didn't measure up. So for fans, I'd pass... P.S. Where can I get good recommendations to rival BC?

47 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not typical Bryce

If your looking for something to live up to the Potatoe Factory trilogy forget Sylvia. This book is hard to follow & bombarded with religous zealoty. I hated this book!!! The narrator's voice drove me mad & the story line was boring & hard to follow. I never write reveiws (as you can probably tell) but I would hate for someone to try this thinking they were getting typical, wonderful, full of life & humor Bryce. Not so with this one. Don't waste your credit.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Carol
  • Kurrajong, Australia
  • 03-10-08

Just did not do it for me!

I guess its hard to tread in the footsteps of the classics but this book was bler!!
It is potentially an interesting tale based on a strange historical event but somehow the thread of base and frequently tainted sexuality seemed to undermine the story and it ended up sounding a tad sleazy and at times as if the crude bits were added for effect.May be it is just me but I felt a little put off at times.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Awful

Melodramatic, long winded and dull. I know this is a well-respected author, but I won't read anything he writes again. Several times, the plot seems to be about to kick in, but it never does. And the ending just made me angry at myself for wasting so much time on a book that has no climax. He could have elected to end it on any single page of the book, in the middle of a paragraph, a sentence, or on the 2nd syllable of a 3 syllable word, and the ending would have been just as meaningful. I should have stopped reading after the first chapter. I didn't, to my regret. I cannot recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Horrible narration

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator's attempt to imitate German accent and way of speaking English is pretty disgraceful. I admit, I heard myself some of my countrymen speaking this way, but it's just a handful of all of us who migrated to so many English-speaking countries and embraced English as their own language.
The narrator has a pleasant voice, but she made every possible effort to spoil this story with this mocking / caricaturing way she choose to present it to us.
VERY DISAPPOINTING - to say the less.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Huge disappointment

My 7th BC book and what a surprise. It was the same miracles, prayers, songs, story on and on till the unsatifying end. I would have aborted, but I had become a great fan of BC. If I had read this one first, I never would have read the other 6. If you've never read BC DO NOT start with this one.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Story, Narration Irritates

I am a Bryce Courtney fan. I was intrigued by "Sylvia" because the protagonist is a female--the only time I've encountered this in a Courtney novel. And it is also a historical novel, and I have liked his historical pieces, like "The Potato Factory Trilogy." I did enjoy the story, which is about the doomed Children's Crusade of the 13th Century. However, I almost gave up on it because of the narrator. She has a pleasant voice, but she chose to use a screechy tone for many of the characters that really grated on me. She also adopted a bad German accent when Sylvia or others from Cologne were speaking. You haven't lived until you've heard "vouched" pronounced as "wowched." Every W became a V, and vice versa, while J words like "Johanna" were pronounced J instead of Y, which they would be in German.

Nonetheless, I persisted. Sylvia is a fictional character who accompanies the historical Nicholas of Cologne in his crusade to peacefully reclaim the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy Land. The Church did not support this endeavor, making it even harder for the thousands of children who made the journey--or tried to. Many thousands died in the attempt. Sylvia herself is an intriguing character. She perceives herself as ordinary, but because she can call the birds and has a fish-shaped birthmark on her back, many think her a holy emissary. She struggles with the desire to be holy and the knowledge that she is not throughout the book. In the end, it is her desire for sanctity that is her undoing.

Sylvia is befriended and accompanied by a gay rat catcher who wants to be a musician, and Reinhardt is one of the most appealing characters in the book. He is clearly based on the Pied Piper, and his abilities to soundlessly pipe the rats and control dogs were also viewed as miracles. I don't know if I believed in the amazing abilities of this unlikely duo, but I enjoyed their adventures anyway.

Long story short: if you can endure the narration, you will probably enjoy this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

New Territory for Bryce but done well

Would you listen to Sylvia again? Why?

Yes

What did you like best about this story?

Not only the history given in the story but also the continually moving pace of the story.

Which character – as performed by Edwina Wren – was your favorite?

Sylvia

If you could take any character from Sylvia out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Sylvia

Any additional comments?

Nice to see something different from Bryce

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

good story; bad narrator!

Would you try another book from Bryce Courtenay and/or Edwina Wren?

Love all of Courtenay's work!! Would happily listen to Wren if she would NOT use such phony accents.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Edwina Wren?

Wren is a good narrator when she speaks normally, but her accents her very poor and annoying!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debra
  • Youngstown, Ohio, United States
  • 07-30-12

accent annoying

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Edwina Wren?

The narrator's voice was pleasant and expressive but the contrived German accent almost ruined the whole thing for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 03-22-09

Huge Disappointment

After really enjoying several of Bryce Courtney's book this one was exceedingly poor. I am not certain if the book itself is any good as the reading of it is flat and monotonous. I can't for one moment understand why the narrator speaks perfect "English" but when anyone speaks it is in a comic style German accent reminiscent of the sitcom Allo Allo.
Have tried about 6 hours of it but can't go on

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 12-26-16

Amazing book

I leant so much in this book I may never have leant! truly reverting for start to finish. Well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • kevinplee@hotmail.com
  • 03-13-18

Something different

I really enjoyed this book, can't put my finger on why but it's in sone way different to other books by Bryce yet still brilliantly well written. Perhaps the period the book is set or the narrator made the difference. I'm used to Hunphrey Bower narrating Bryce's books but this was equally as good. Nice work all, I'm going to listen again.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-09-18

Not much chop..

Compared to all of Bryce's other books this one was really hard to finish.