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The Gabriel Hounds

Narrated by: Ellie Heydon
Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
5 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Romance, intrigue, legend and adventure meet in this Lebanon-set classic Gothic romance by beloved author Mary Stewart.  

Legend has it that when the Gabriel Hounds run howling over the crumbling palace of Dar Ibrahim, high in the Adonis Valley of Lebanon, death will follow on their heels. When rich, spoilt Christie Mansel arrives at the decaying palace to look after her eccentric Aunt Harriet, she arrives to the sound of howling dogs. The palace is riddled with hidden passages and the servants are unwilling to let anyone see Harriet during the day. It seems the palace hides an extraordinary secret...one that somebody is willing to kill to keep.  

'The deep blue oblong of sky above the open court was pricking already with brilliant stars. No ugly diffusion of city light spoiled the deep velvet of that sky; even hanging as it was above the glittering and crowded richness of the Damascus oasis, it spoke of the desert and the vast empty silence beyond the last palm tree.'  

©1967 Mary Stewart (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critic Reviews

"A comfortable chair and a Mary Stewart: total heaven. I'd rather read her than most other authors." (Harriet Evans)

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Profile Image for Maggie
  • Maggie
  • 08-20-19

Another classic Mary Stewart, well read

This, like all Mary Stewart's novels, is a book that I've known, read and re-read over many years but The Gabriel Hounds was the only one where one aspect never seemed to quite click for me. The story is a classic Mary Stewart plot, this time Christy (sheltered,moneyed, a bit naive, a bit spoilt and entitled but nice despite all that) is travelling in the Middle East. By chance she bumps into her cousin Charles and later learns that their eccentric Great Aunt Harriet, who had shifted lock stock and barrel (and dog) to live in some state in the area years ago is not, as Christy thought, dead but still alive and living in remote seclusion in a crumbling desert palace,
No wish to give spoilers for those who haven't read the books, but the one part I always found difficult to 'see' in my mind's eye was the scene where Christy, after some stubborn pressure on her part, is finally admitted to her Great Aunt Harriet's darkened room to talk to her. It was surprising how much simpler I found it to visualise that clearly when listening to the narration rather than reading.
As with all of Stewart's classic novels, there is a romance but there is also danger and murder.
This one was written in the 1960s. For a modern listener it seems strange to hear of tourist visiting Beirut, Damascus, Aleppo and other names we are only too familiar with from the news, for all the wrong reasons. The world described here is not the same today and it's sad to realise how different it was such a short time ago.
But it's a good story, and of its time. And it's well narrated on the whole, though not sure why the local Arab driver is given an Estuary accent - the book was written far too long ago for him to have been learning his English from East Enders..
It's great to have all these Mary Stewart books finally recorded and unabridged. Emilia Fox read the first, Madam Willl You Talk, and from then on they've been different voices all the way. I think Ellie Heydon, who reads this and Nine Coaches Waiting, is the first to 'double up'. Despite a few pronunciation errors, it's ok and I hope she reads some of the 4 still to come in November.

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  • Sas
  • 08-22-19

Lovely story... Slightly ropey narration

I've always loved Mary Stewart... I read my mama's old copies 30 years ago and they are always littered with foreign names and text. The narrator has a sweet voice but... Christ.. Every single of these new Stewart recordings is littered with mispronunciations of English words - let alone the foreign text. Do actors not bother to do their research, are studio staff badly educated or are they now too afraid to correct actors when they make a massive mess of words? It feels like every 15 mins there's a word or name blatantly mispronounced. While I'm beefing... An Arabic driver's voice in this recording is portrayed as... Cockney. Seriously???

Great story but I could do without wincing all the time. Very careless production.

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  • Anne McCallum
  • 09-07-19

Brilliant and magical

Mary Stewart at her best with wonderful descriptive passages making the Lebanon and its magic come alive!

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  • Spikyjules
  • 08-28-19

Weak story, poorly developed characters

I was looking forward to this having read all Mary Stewart's novels years ago and I remember enjoying them all. But I found this story, characters and narration all a bit limp. Disappointing, but won't stop me listening to all the MS audio books as they become available.