The Spire

Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's Summary

Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and on Dean Jocelin in particular.

From the author of Lord of the Flies, The Spire is a dark and powerful portrait of one man's will, and the folly that he creates.

©1964 William Golding (P)2014 Faber Audio
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What members say

Overall Ratings

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    97
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    38
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    10

Customer Reviews

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4 out of 5 stars
By Leena on 11-15-14

Power through for a deep exam. of a man's psyche

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

This is a complicated book. I'm not sure it lends itself all that well to an audio version. But I'm still new to audio books, and find I like them best when I can be a tad bit distracted when listening to them. This is a not a book to digest while being distracted. It requires full attention.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the many levels this story exists on. It is a story, told from one (increasingly crazy) man about his desires, actions, and motivations.

What about Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance did you like?

I read this book as I listened, so I noticed he occasionally took small liberties. Jocelyn spoke with more contractions! So if you are a purist, know that. But the voices he infused the characters with were fantastic.

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15 people found this helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Marie Kemp on 01-30-16

Self torture

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anyone who wants to punish themselves.

Would you ever listen to anything by William Golding again?

Yes...I would listen to Lore of the Flies as I have read that .

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

I would not have been able to endure this had he not performed...and this was a great performance.

What character would you cut from The Spire?

The main one.

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12 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kaui on 06-27-15

A relentless exploration of vanity

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

I am unsure if I would recommend this audiobook. This book might be better consumed ocularly via Kindle or (gasp) old-fashioned book. The story is predictable and I found the characters somewhat unremarkable - surprising for Mr. Golding. However, the writing was superb as usual. I think reading it would allow more appreciation of the language without relying upon attention-grabbing characters. That being said, Mr. Cumberbatch does a FANTASTIC job of narrating. I loved his voices, and his voice in general.

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5 people found this helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By M.Lee Fox on 05-24-17

So so so so sooooo confusing.

I'll be honest. I'm not a philosophical person. I don't enjoy super deep thinking or huge amounts of reading between the lines. This book felt like it was 80% reading between the lines with the constant psychological and philosophical interpretations of the actions and scenes around the main character. Which means, I was utterly lost on what was happening like 70% of the time.
I love Mr Cumberbatch, with his grand scale of varying voices, but at times, the characters were so wildly voiced due to the interpretation of their emotions, that I had no idea who was speaking and who said what.
I will only mention this book to others whom might enjoy the challenge of a severely confusing read.

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kate Hoole on 03-29-15

Twisty and dark

Twisty and dark story with a building sense of doom. Wonderfully read by Benedict Cumberbatch, who employs a wide range of voices and creates the dean's character brilliantly.

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Barbara A Dignan on 05-17-15

The Spire Inspires

Captivating story. The writing was exquisite-- practically poetry. Cumberbatch used his talents of creating accents to the fullest. Fabulous book!

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2 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jacquelyn Koh on 02-25-15

Enjoyable book

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

Most others are stories, I'd say this should be required reading for Engineering students (especially those who will specialize in Project Management) in Freshman English class.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Spire?

The confrontation between Roger Mason and Jocelin, when Roger Mason shows how much he'd already done to try and make the Spire work and Jocelin's blind faith practically drives him to despair, though he still tries his best to find a solution.

Which scene was your favorite?

The memorable moment mentioned above.

If you could rename The Spire, what would you call it?

Watching a Train Wreck About to Happen

Any additional comments?

The performance by Benedict Cumberbatch was phenomenal. He inhabited his characters and the voices he created for each character made the book easy to follow and kept me riveted.

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 08-10-19

worth reading

I liked the story, probably will come back to it.
The performance was great (not a surprise).

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2 out of 5 stars
By Andrei on 04-13-19

narration

The story was OK, though occasionally I got lost, but the narrator....Oh boy. I actually got this one because of Cumberbatch and what a disappointment it was. Notice what he does with Jocelin. He just modifies his voice to make Jocelin sound like a cartoonish character (or an idiot). It is very superficial kind of acting for an actor who (hopefully) studies Stanislavsky's method. He never goes into depth in presenting Jocelin. I honestly do not even know who Jocelin is in Cumberbatch's rendition, if you can even call it that. Anyone who studied a bit of acting can read like this. His way or presenting the protagonist was so monotonous and boring. I had to stop listening after a few hours because Cumberbatch started getting under my nerves. I found that even embarrassing for an actor who has done such a great job in Imitation Game. Anyway, I can go on and on. Avoid. There are much better recordings out there.

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1 out of 5 stars
By Patrick on 09-03-16

not my style

It Was Written In Good Taste and with good intentions. It's just not my style though. it seemed very disconnected. it wanders in insane little tangents. a priest lost to darker things. and not to ruin it but all he's doing is putting spire on top of a church. and the base the story is that the church has no foundation and people died during its building. and then he dies. perhaps it's a strange Romance of some kind. I just didn't feel it spoke to me.

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1 person found this helpful

Customer Reviews

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4 out of 5 stars
By Morganrandg on 03-11-15

Wonderful narration lifted the whole work.

I found the story rather hard to read in book format but with Benedict Cumberbatch's narration it was a joy to listen. I have listened to the whole book several times already and each time my image of the building grows in detail and stature.
I would listen to Mr Cumberbatch read anything.

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9 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Earnest on 01-27-15

Scintillating, metaphysical scream.

Most surprising revelation to listen to this when many years ago "Lord of the Flies " had been a compulsory, unpleasant, school based read. Age and experience has made this new experience of Golding such an intellectual, visceral surprise.
The whole gamut of human, very specifically competitive, male and religious life are fore grounded with such potent imagery that it literally takes your breath away.
The narrator is outstanding.

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13 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Christine on 12-02-15

A dissenting view

This is an amazing story, but I struggled with Benedict Cumberbatch's performance (controversial I know)! When he is narrating, it is outstanding, but during dialogues I struggled to know who was talking (especially between Jocelyn and Roger). I'm not sure why, but possibly because all the characters had the same voices, and the sudden mood changes of all the speakers (not just Jocelyn, in which it was understandable) kept tricking me into thinking the next person was speaking? I don't know, but I am sure the hordes of Cumberbatch fans will get very irate with me!

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4 people found this helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By John on 06-14-16

You'll love this or hate it.

If you love Benedict Cumerbatch as an actor you'll love this performance it is great acting of the text.
Though I think BC uses all the skills he can bring to bear in this reading, his characterization of the protagonist as a whining egotist is so strong, he makes a character who is already unsympathetic on paper into someone unbearable. This is mostly Golding's responsibility, for trying to engage the reader through the eyes of such a disagreeable character. BC's performance highlights this brilliantly you might think. But it just made question whether I could be bothered to spend more time in the company of this spire-building visionary who is so clearly a fool. I stuck it out, as I hoped I'd realize I was wrong and after all Golding was a Nobel prize winner. Unless you want time hearing BC's
lovely voice I'd recommend you try something else first.

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1 person found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Anony Mouse on 07-26-15

Fascinating insight, nicely read

A fascinating book - after reading this I'll never look at a medieval cathedral in the same way again! Gripping and with enough period detail to be very engaging.

Cumberbatch reads clearly, with style and character.

The story had a slightly frustrating end but apart from that I thought the book was great.

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5 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Susie on 10-30-14

Fab story great narration

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

I've never read the printed version but hearing Benedict Cumberbatch reading it makes the book come alive!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Spire?

The very sad ending

What does Benedict Cumberbatch bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Only Benedict Cumberbatch could give you the amazing voices, excellent narration that enhances the already brilliant writing of William Golding.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A bit of both!

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8 people found this helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Ian Boud on 11-26-15

Boring book

I really struggled to finish this very boring book. it was however very well read.

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2 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By S. Bradford on 02-17-20

Amazing

I love William Golding novels anyway and this was no exception. Fantastically read by Benedict Cumberbatch, it's a superb examination of human character. Brilliant.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Margaret ann cain Amazon Customer on 07-28-19

Could not gets to grips with story

I struggled with it the narrator and was good that is why I finished the story

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5 out of 5 stars
By SG on 07-14-19

A Major Classic, a marvellous Performance

This tale of pride and certainty and downfall is masterfully written, with insights into the machinations of folly and hierarchy. The pitched battle of wills between Jocelyn and the Masterbuilder inevitably lead to tragedy.
The performance is so perfect, carrying Jocelyn from euphoria to despair without ever putting a syllable wrong. I

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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By Ellen L on 04-30-15

Brilliant actor

having a book read to you adds another dimension to the story. If you hate the voice and if you are familiar with a story but dislike the actor's take on the story it makes for a painful listen. Fortunately this was not a painful few hours. I am a fan of Mr Cumberbatch and I have to say his involvement in this was one of the reasons I decided to listen. I'm glad I did. I think I could listen to him forever.

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4 people found this helpful