One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease, and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin.
But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished.
But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel. Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards....
©2012 Alastair Reynolds (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group Limited
"He's written better."
The narration is not as bad as some people think (to me anyway). The book is based around Africa and once you accept that and that all the accents are African based, then its all good.
My main problem isn't with the voice, its those stupid pan-pipes that are there inbetween a lot of chapters. I would be quite happily listening away in my own little world and then that effin noise would come along and get me all riled up.
The book itself is not as good as his other work. At this stage I have listened to pretty much all his books available on Audible and this is probably the one I liked least, but still enjoyable for all that... just loose the pan pipes.
This review is more about the narration than the book, I just want to take issue with the negative reviews of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. I find his narration style excellent and very suitable for this work, initially i had a little problem identifying voices of the main character and his sister as children (they sounded too alike) but after the first chapter the narrator seemed to 'find his voice' and things improved dramatically. Give this book a chance and dont be put off by the negative reviews.
"WARNING: Listen to sample before buying!"
Being a big Reynolds fan (same as the first reviewer) I decided to ignore his comments the narrator could never be so bad as to put me off - I'm afraid he was but I couldn't get 30 minutes into it before turning off.
My suggestion is to listen to the sampler first - some people may be OK with his voice and I am sure the book is great.
"Not up to par"
I wanted to love this but it failed to grab me in the same way all his other books have. The sense of a massive galactic world has been lost and i no longer feel immersed within a space opera.
An engrossing tale of a future world. I'm about two thirds through and really enjoying it. I'm also quite amazed by all the flak the narrator's getting. I've been very impressed with his work - his characterisation is subtle and consistent and "acted" to a high standard. Clearly it seems he's not for everyone, but to my ears, he does a great job.
Four stars because it's an Alisair Reynolds novel and they're always enjoyable, but why oh why didn't Audible use the same narrator who did all the other Reynolds books for them? When you have a winning combination, stick to it.
In more cynical moments I wonder if maybe it's a ruse by Amazon to get us to buy the audiobook, and then buy the kindle version or hardback as well.
I had been so looking forward to this new AR novel but Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's voice just doesn't work on audio. I can imagine him being a terrific TV or film actor in certain roles, but he is most definitely a fish out of water in simple audio narration. I'm afraid his narration spoilt Rivers of London for me too, so much so that I gave up with it.
There have been a number of highly questionable casting decisions and poor editing that have let audiobooks down of late. Julian May's "Many Coloured Land" is a prime example where an excellent book was trashed by bad choice of narrator, and history and travelogues almost universally because none of these publishing and media experts seems to bother how to pronounce names properly.
Come on Audible - how about a re-record with John Lee?
"Where it all begins"
This is a trip back to the roots of the Reynolds universe. Humans have not yet travelled further than the solar system but you can see the nascent technology of his other books here. It is a slow start to what I suspect will become a far ranging story in subsequent volumes. There isn't much edge of the seat excitement until the second half of the book and it is used sparingly; it was a good listen and I found myself going back over passages as there is a lot of plot to this story and it helps to pay attention.
I was alarmed to read a couple of the other comment here about the narration but I was relieved to find it a lot better than many other books I have listened to from Audible. The narrator has a good range of tone to separate the characters and good diction; his accents are also appropriate to the story and he reads it with expression which demonstrates and transmits understanding. Overall I would say Holdbrook-Smiths narration added to the presentation rather than being a distraction.
The only reason for not giving 5 stars is this a not quite a "can't put it down to the end" book, but it is a good story to be savored in manageable segments.
I'm a big Alastair Reynolds fan and have been waiting for this book for some time. The story line is OK but not Alastair's best. Unfortunately I couldn't get on with the Narrator. The sound and tone of his voice was so annoying I stopped listening to it after 4 hours. Looks like I’ll have to order a hard copy a read it myself.
"Great story, excellent narration"
Having previously heard all of Alastair Reynolds' novels on Audible and greatly enjoyed John Lee's narration I was initally put off by some of the negative reviews of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's work. I shouldn't have worried; he really brings the characters in this book to life in a way that I don't think John Lee could have achieved in such a convincing way.
Although the story doesn't have the star-striding scale of some of Alastair Reynolds' other works, this is a more human tale that lays the groundwork for two more novels that no doubt will see humankind reach the stars. I can't wait...
My first Alastair Reynolds book - very much enjoyed it. Narration was captivating - simply one of the most well narrated audio books I have listened to. Excellent, consistent and charming range of voices and characterisations.
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