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Charles

Wantage, United Kingdom
  • 14
  • reviews
  • 58
  • helpful votes
  • 16
  • ratings
  • The Proteus Operation

  • By: James P. Hogan
  • Narrated by: Paul Christy
  • Length: 16 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

When malcontents from a utopian 21st century use their time gate to transform Hitler into an invincible conqueror, a band of freedom-fighting Americans launches the Proteus project and builds a second time gate.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good story, but let down somewhat by the narrator

  • By Charles on 20-10-15

Good story, but let down somewhat by the narrator

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

Reviewed: 20-10-15

I've read and listened to a number of James Hogan's works over the years. He's very good at "hard" sci-fi as can bee seen in his Giants series. This book is a good take on the "Alternative timeline" genre as applied to the Second World War. I won't give too many details of the plot, so that other listeners can come at it fresh. Suffice to say it deals with the consequences of going back in time to change the course of World history as seen through the eyes of the people doing the time traveling. There's some good explanations on the results of doing this, such as parallel timelines & universes existing simultaneously, and how the action itself of traveling back can change things. As a story it's good, maybe not on a par with his Giants series, but well worth it.

That said, as an English person, listening to the narrator at times was painful. His attempts at generic English accents often came across as being from the Dick Van Dyke school. Add onto that some awful pronunciation gaffes (Edinburgh as "Edin-BERG" instead of "Edin-Boro" is just one example), and it did mar the listening experience. You may want to brace yourself for occasional winces whenever the story moves to Britain or has a British character in the chapter!

  • The Martian

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 16,880
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 15,890
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 15,861

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exhilarating adventure. Brilliantly executed.

  • By Kaggy on 30-08-14

Sciencing the *&*^ out of it.....

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

Reviewed: 14-09-15

I thought I'd give this a try seeing how the movie adaptation will soon be upon us, and I'm glad I did!

First off, if you're uncomfortable with swearing, you may want to move along. Pretty much all the characters swear regularly in this book, starting from the very first sentence. Some people have complained that it's gratuitous, but I think it's about right, especially when it comes to the main character, Mark Watney.

If you've read the blurb, then you know the general premise of the story, a sort of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, without the Man Friday. Whilst that's a good way of describing it, there's a lot more for the fan of what I'd call "hard sci-fi". Andy Weir has obviously done a lot of research into the book, and it shows. There's good amounts of hard science here, but they're wrapped up in the human story, as Watney tries to go from despair, to survival, to escape across the 11hrs of this book. Some of the other characters, particularly (oddly) his fellow crew-mates remain more "character sketches" than fully developed people, but that in a way highlights that Watney is the core to the whole story. The story really does move along a lot faster that you think, and it's a great book.

As for RC Bray's narration, I sometimes struggle with male American narrators, as they don't always manage to get the characters as distinct (leaving to confusion when there's lots of characters talking at the same time). Bray, however, manages this well. His "log entries" as Watney felt like they *were* being spoken into the log, which works a treat. Very well narrated, and well paced. Good job all round, and heartily recommended.

  • Flashman

  • The Flashman Papers, Book 1
  • By: George MacDonald Fraser
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 311
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 288
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 285

Harry Flashman: the unrepentant bully of Tom Brown's schooldays, now with a Victoria Cross, has three main talents - horsemanship, facility with foreign languages and fornication. A reluctant military hero, Flashman plays a key part in most of the defining military campaigns of the nineteenth century despite trying his utmost to escape them all. Flashman, soldier, duellist, lover, imposter, coward, cad, and hero triumphs in this first installment of The Flashman Papers.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Flashman rides forth.....

  • By Charles on 13-07-15

Flashman rides forth.....

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

Reviewed: 13-07-15

I'm a fan of the Flashman books, and loved the Timothy West-narrated versions that used to be available. Sadly, only a few titles were ever released, so I've had to wait until now to be able to hear the rest of the stories in their full unabridged versions, now with Colin Mace in the narrators chair. The story itself is classic Flashman, the cowardly bully from Tom Brown's Schooldays, charting his expulsion from school to joining the Army and his adventures in Afghanistan. It's a perfect place to start.

For the narration, Colin Mace does a good job, whilst not *quite* reaching the level of sheer caddishness that Timothy West managed to convey. Mace sounds a little "younger" when narrating, which does sit a little awkwardly to the "fact" that this is an elderly Flashie telling of his adventures. I'd also add that he has a habit of speaking a little quieterwhen not conveying speech, which can sometimes make you keep adjusting the volume to try to hear everything without it being too loud. That wouldn't be a problem for listeners at home, but if you're listening in a car like I do, it can be a bit niggly to have to do this. It's a minor thing, though.

I'll definitely be adding others from the mace-narrated collection to my library.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Something Rotten

  • Thursday Next, Book 4
  • By: Jasper Fforde
  • Narrated by: Emily Gray
  • Length: 12 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 177
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 155
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 156

Thursday Next, Head of JurisFiction and ex-SpecOps agent, returns to her native Swindon accompanied by a child of two, a pair of dodos and Hamlet, who is on a fact-finding mission in the real world. Thursday has been despatched to capture escaped Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine but even so, now seems as good a time as any to retrieve her husband Landen from his state of eradication at the hands of the Chronoguard. It’s not going to be easy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thursday Next, complete at last!

  • By Charles on 10-03-15

Thursday Next, complete at last!

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

Reviewed: 10-03-15

As the titla says, at last we can listen to the complete Thursday Next series. For ages I've had books 1 to 3 & held off from getting book 6, seeing how this and book 5 (First Among Sequels) have not been available. This was particularly galling as the series is really two "four-book" sets where the storylines in books 1 to 4 come to a full conclusion in this book, wrapping up certain character arcs that I won't divulge here in case of ruining the story.

We have a different narrator for this book (Emily Gray as opposed to Gabrielle Kruger who did books 1 to 3). I was a bit unsure about her narration to begin with, and her "male" voices can be a bit archetypal at times. Still, I had no problem with knowing who was speaking, and soon I had forgotten the transition to a new narrator (kind of like a Doctor regenerating in Dr Who, or a new James Bond taking over in a way). One thing I *did* find a tiny bit annoying was that the second part of the character name "Schitt-Hause" was pronounced "hawse" when I am fairly certain the idea was for it to be "house" as a continuation of the puns that Jasper Fforde had put in for this family in the earlier books.

The concept of the "footnoter-phone" comments was a little hard to translate into a linear narration, but the editors seemed to have come up with a reasonable way of doing this without ruining the flow.

Overall the story cracks along like the earlier books, and rounds off the first set of Thursday Next stories nicely. Emily Gray did a good job, and I thoroughly recommend this (but read/listen to the first three books first!)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Sliver of Truth

  • By: Lisa Unger
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Kaye
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

A seemingly mundane act - picking up a few envelopes of prints at a photo lab - puts Ridley Jones at the nexus of a global network of crime. A shadowy figure of a man appears in almost every picture she's taken in the last year, lurking just far enough away to make identification impossible. Everyone from the federal government to the criminal underworld wants to know who the man is - and where he is - and some people are willing to kill to find out.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Listen to the first book before this!

  • By Charles on 09-09-14

Listen to the first book before this!

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

Reviewed: 09-09-14

This is a follow up to the book Beautiful Lies by the same author, so the first thing to say is "Listen to that first!". If you don't, you'll find the story confusing.

Now, if you *have* listened to the other book, you'll know roughly what to expect. The story itself is pretty good, but I did think that it was in danger of "jumping the shark" at a couple of points. I know some are frustrated in that it doesn't wrap everything up with no loose ends at the end (as in the previous book). To be fair, life is like that, so I don't think it's a bad thing myself. However, it was a bit weaker as a story, and a few plot leaps were stretches. There's also a section, about two thirds of the way through where they chapters jump back and forth in time. If you're not careful, you could lose track of things there, so not one to listen to as you're dozing off to sleep at night.

Elizabeth Kaye does a good job, keeping the pace going with enough emotion in each of the characters voices to keep you interested.

All in all, it's a nice little time filler of a novel, with some reasonable twists and turns.

  • The Silence of the Lambs

  • 25th Anniversary Edition: Hannibal Lecter, Book 2
  • By: Thomas Harris
  • Narrated by: Frank Muller
  • Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,137
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,063
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,062

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Thomas Harris’ legendary best-seller, Audible presents The Silence of the Lambs, with a new introduction written and read by the author himself. An FBI trainee. A psychopath locked up for unspeakable crimes. And a serial killer getting ever closer to his latest victim... Seeking insight into the deadly madman she must find, FBI rookie Clarice Starling turns to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a monster cannibal held in a hospital for the criminally insane.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb and chilling

  • By JamesW on 01-12-13

One of the modern Thriller masterpieces

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

Reviewed: 09-09-14

I've read the book and seen the film countless times in the past, as have most people. Like me, you'll probably have Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins images in your mind when you listen, even if you try hard to come at this fresh. Don't worry, though, this narration is it's own being, and you'll soon lose any pre-conceptions.

I won't review the story, as this has been covered by others before. What I *will* comment on is the narration. Frank Muller does a cracking job of bringing the characters to life, even with all the baggage that we have from the film version. You can hear echoes of Jodie Foster in Starling, without trying to completely mimic her. Likewise with Lector, you get the suaveness from the Hopkins portrayal mixed with the menace that Brian Cox brought to the part in Manhunter as well, making this a more chilling Lector because of it. Muller deserves a lot of praise for taking on what must have been a daunting prospect, given how deeply ingrained these characters are in popular culture now, and still making it fresh and a joy to listen to. Heartily recommended!

  • Red Storm Rising

  • By: Tom Clancy
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 31 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 779
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 714
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 712

When Moslem fundamentalists blow up a key Soviet oil complex, making an already critical oil shortage calamitous, the Russians figure they are going to have to take things into their own hands. They plan to seize the Persian Gulf, and more ambitiously, to neutralise NATO. Thus begins Red Storm, an audacious gamble that uses diplomatic maneuvers to cloak a crash military build-up. When Soviet tanks begin to roll, the West is caught off guard. What looks like a thrust turns into an all-out shooting war, possibly the climactic battle for control of the globe.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Realistic view on what could have been

  • By Charles on 15-08-14

Realistic view on what could have been

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

Reviewed: 15-08-14

I'd read this book some 15 years ago or so. Listening to it again now, with the hindsight of more recent events and the state of world politics as it is now (in 2014) it's quite prescient about how things could have developed (particularly as regards "non-state aggressors"). The story actually moves along at a decent clip, so it didn't feel like you were plodding away through a long novel. That said, One of the weak points that I remember from reading the book applied to the audio version too. It's easy to lose track of all the characters, especially the Russian ones, as to who is who exactly. This is very true when it comes to players who you haven't seen/heard for a few chapters later on in the book.

Michael Prichard did a reasonable job narrating this, but he could do with a bit more variation for the characters. There's a few times where you have 3 or 4 characters talking, and it's too easy to find yourself losing track of who's saying what.

All in all it's a good book, if you're into techno thrillers, and it's one of Clancy's better ones, quite probably because it was an early one that he wrote completely himself, and without the more convoluted character history that eventually put me off the later Jack Ryan series (although Hunt For Red October is still a personal favourite. If you're listening to this, you'll want to do it in big chunks, just to make sure that you keep the story straight and get the most out of it.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

Flashman in the Great Game cover art
  • Flashman in the Great Game

  • By: George MacDonald Fraser
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 166
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55

What caused the Indian Mutiny - the insurrection which was the watershed of the British Empire? Flashman, in his role as secret agent, saw far more of the Great Mutiny than he wanted to - Russian spies in Queen Victoria's drawing-room, the first explosion of revolt, the heroic defence at Cawnpore and the vital message out of Lucknow...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Greatest

  • By Mr H. on 09-06-10

Flashman at his best

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

Reviewed: 18-07-13

I took a chance on this book (not having read any of the Flashman books before this), and I am SO glad I did! I'm now making my way through the whole series. The rollicking story fair zips along, leaving you breathless (either through excitement or laughter most of the time!). With such a great story woven into real historical events, it relies on a great narrator to capture the tone. If they had picked the wrong person, this could've beeen dire. But no. They picked the perfect person in Timothy West. He *IS* Harry Flashman! The voice, the swagger, it's all there. Perfect!

Now, when can we expect the unabridged versions of the other Flashman books with Timothy West narrating them?!?!?

  • Michael Palin: Pole to Pole

  • By: Michael Palin
  • Narrated by: Michael Palin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 278
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 246
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 246

In Pole to Pole we join Michael Palin on the second of his epic challenges. Travelling from the North Pole to the South Pole, he experiences every extreme the globe has to offer. As he crosses 16 countries by train, truck, raft, Ski-Doo, barge, balloon and bicycle, he meets a diverse range of fascinating characters and landscapes while his own endurance is tested to the limit. With his customary aplomb, he plunges himself into the local cultures, starring in a crayfish documentary in Novgorod, attending a baby-rolling ceremony at a Cypriot wedding, and consulting an Mpulugu witch-doctor.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An interesting story with excellent narration

  • By DRMT on 24-02-15

How travel writing should be...

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

Reviewed: 18-07-13

By now, pretty much everyone knows what they're going to get when they read or listen to a Michael Palin travel book: If you're looking for a normal travel guide, this isn't it. If you're just wanting an audio version of the TV series, this isn't it either. The books delve much deeper into the day to day of the trip than was conveyed on the screen. You find out more about the crew that travel with MP on his travels, and the things that happen off camera. Think of this as the companion piece to the TV series. To get the full effect, you want both, and ideally you'd watch one episode, then read/listen to the chapters/days in the book that go along with it, etc...

As for the narration, MP is of course the only person who could do it. He's not just narrating the book, he's re-living it, and breathing life into the words for you.

I've only marked the "story" rating as a 4, because whilst it's a grwat read/listen, it doesn't *quite* reach the heights that he reached on Round the World and Full Circle....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Double Cross

  • The True Story of the D-Day Spies
  • By: Ben Macintyre
  • Narrated by: Michael Tudor Barnes
  • Length: 13 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 207
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 173
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175

D-Day, 6 June 1944 was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the invasion force. The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence. But at its heart was the “Double Cross System”, a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good book, narration is little off for me.

  • By outlandish on 10-10-15

Doesn't 'Quite' meet heights of his previous books

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

Reviewed: 24-06-13

Don't get me wrong, this is still a very good book, and the narrator does an excellent job. I think the problem is that Ben Macintyre has written a book that has cast too wide a net to be fully conveyed as an audio book. There's so many parallel threads going on that I sometimes found myself trying to remember exactly which Agent was which. In a physical book, that's not a problem, as you can always flick back to double-check things for clarity. That's not an option in an audio book....

His previous two books had the benefit of either one central agent or one core operation to focus on. Here, there's a lot of different threads and different plots to try to keep track of.

Bottom line it's still a good listen, but I suggest starting with either Agent ZigZag or Operation Mincemeat first, to "ease" yourself in!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful