But when one of their number is found hanging from a tree, the chilling discovery confirms that something more sinister than plague is in their midst. And as the runes warn of treachery, it appears no one is quite what they seem, least of all the child rune reader, who mercilessly compels each of her companions to tell their stories. And face the consequences...
©2008 Karen Maitland; (P)2008 Oakhill Publishing Ltd
This is quite different from what I usually listen to, but I'm very glad I made the break. It's 1348 and the black death is sweeping England. Nine unlikely travel companions are thrown together and unite in their quest to outrun the pestillence by heading North.
The characters are nicely drawn and we get to know them through the stories they tell while sitting around the campfire trying to keep warm. The author evokes the mid 14th century well and the book seems to be well-researched (although I'm not an expert on medieval England, so it could all be rubbish!!). There is a bit of mystery thrown in, but although there are murders involved, it's not a traditional murder mystery. The end of the story is not as strong as it might have been, and clues to one of the twists in the tale are given early in the book. There is a final twist, which some might find cliched, but I enjoyed. Finally, what made this a 5-star for me was David Thorpe's narration - the story on its own would have been a four. The voice characterisation is great and consistent throughout - he really helps to bring the characters and the stories to life. Highly recommended!
This is an excellent read. Very different, well written and a good mix of characters. Set in the middle ages at the beginning of the plague, each character slowly unfolds their own story, an intersting mix of myth, legend and reality, covering some big topics like incest, homosexulaity, murder, religious bigotry and racism - lots of deaths and an intersting twist at the end. Well worth the read and one of the best books I've read in the last 12 months.
A good tale of a group of nine disparate people who come together hoping for safety in their attempt to flee the Black Death or Great Mortality.
With lots of detail about the period, interesting stories told by each character and a chilling end, this makes compelling listening. The narrator's local northern accent and good characterisation brings an added depth to the story.
Not really into historical novels, but this had good reviews so thought I'd give it a try. Was not disappointed. Took a little while to become involved, but once hooked, totally smitten. This is a Grimm's Fairy Tale for adults where fact and fantasy merge into an absorbing, magical tale of friendship, courage, horror, honour, betrayal, love and lying.
The main characters are so well fleshed out that they live in physical form in your imagination. You are with them every step of their treacherous journey, booing, hissing and cheering along the way. The ending comes as such a shock that you find yourself going over the saga wondering why you missed the clues. Or, maybe they were never there? A lot of people tend to think of modern-day novels as being allegorical; make what you will of invasion, oppression, prejudice and mistrust. I'ts all here. But it could just be a wonderfully narrated, totally absorbing tale which succeeds solely on the strength of it's fantastical content. Recommended.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and didn't want it to end. The individual stories were beautifully written and the narrator was brilliant making the characters really come to life!
This was a fantastic story, told from the point of view of a wonderful old man to whom I grew very attached as the book progressed.
The story/journey was constantly swinging between heartwarming tales, unexpected twists and revealing the history of an interesting group of characters who end up travelling together for safety during a dangerous time.
I was extremely satisfied with this purchase, gutted when it ended and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
After nearly 20 hours of listening I feel I've been literally and metaphorically on an epic journey that I'm sorry has come to an end. The author has skilfully woven together history, religion and sorcery with the stories of people escaping from their pasts and the fear of the Black Death that draws together this disparate group of people to travel hither and thither trying to escape the pestilence. Rather like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, we learn something of the characters' backgrounds through the telling of their fascinating stories that enliven the basic narrative of their efforts to find the basics of life in a country ravaged by death. The reader of this long book deserves great credit for his contribution as he brings a large number of characters vividly to life and enhances the experience of listening.
This was an unexpected pleasure. It's not much of a murder mystery but it's a tale well told, full of interest and intrigue. There's a lot of storytelling so it comes over very well as an audiobook. The background of the middle ages is brought to life, as are the extraordinary gang of characters. Thoroughly recommended
These liars - or story tellers and self preservationists, and the mystery of the gruesome murderer among them - kept me company on many a long wintry walk. It is essentially a Medieval murder mystery set in the horror and chaos of the plague, but so much more. The narrator made the main character, our guide the perfectly named Camelot, instantly likeable, and it's written with great intelligence, so even if some of the tales are far fetched and fairytale-like, it's more psychological than fantastical, and could be read any way you choose. It's a great way of absorbing the Medieval way of seeing the world, especially if like me you are secular and atheist. I found myself being seduced into a superstitious mindset that made me shocked at my own susceptibility towards the end. I never thought I was into Medieval yarns, being more of a Roth and Updike fan, but this was enlightening and inspiring in so many ways, and hugely addictive. Only down side for me was a little too much explanation when the murderer is unveiled - I suppose it seemed a bit clunky since the rest was so haunting. But the world Maitland conjures stays with you long after you finish the book.
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