LISTENER

Anonymous

  • 38
  • reviews
  • 255
  • helpful votes
  • 205
  • ratings

The best...

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

Reviewed: 18-06-20

...'old warrior reluctantly picks up his axe one last time to save the day' book I've ever read.

I love a bit of historical action, really. I've read loads of stuff, and enjoyed much of it. In Mathew's previous novels, Beobrand seemed to me a little too macho the scenes a little 'route 1' for my liking.though in fairness I didn't read all that much of it so I can't really comment on how they developed. And the latest Uhtred book had me groaning with boredom. Cornwell has been living off his reputation for too long. He needs an editor to slap him.

Here is something much better in my opinion. Some will find there is not enough grunt/bash stuff here. But this is really good writing. I thought the depth of the characters and the world building were done really well. I felt I got to know Dunstan as wise and considered, a modest man with a solid moral compass. I liked him and felt his problems. Aedwen is a fantastic charcter too; her frailty and naivety provided the perfect foil for the old warrior. And when there is fighting, it is good and justified.

Well played, Mathew Harffy. The Wolf of Wessex seems like a great start.

Highly recommended.


Different.Which is a good thing.

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

Reviewed: 18-06-20

I liked this very much.
By not focusing on the battles, and more on politics and city life, the story seemed to me to bring the times alive very well.
I'll be coming back for more if there is any.

A unique and poetic work

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

Reviewed: 29-03-20

Over the course of a single winter, Baker 'mans' a tiercel Peregrine without taking it from the wild. He pursues it through its wintering grounds until it accepts him. His diary of his winter's 'hawk-hunting' is so beautifully created almost any lines of the prose could be set down as poetry. But more than that, every detail of the winter wildlife and landscape described here rings like a church bell with truth and acute observation.

It will slay any nature lover willing to pay it attention. (Even Lord Macfarlane, the king of the Cambridge nature-mafia, emulates J.A. Baker in his writing style at times.)

Baker's only other work, The Hill of Summer, is acutely observed and very nicely written, but is without the singular purpose of this masterpiece. He was, I think, a man apart. A patient observer and interpreter of the natural world, and a poetic genius.

One of my top three books of all time. Brilliantly read too.

Iceni rebellion, no mercy.

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

Reviewed: 30-03-19

I read and loved George Shipway's historical novels decades ago, [his Norman ones in particular.] He is a great historical writer with a feel for the military. After a summer of reading about prehistory I saw this was out and decided to listen to it while working.

Good move.

Although it shed little light on the late Iron Age there is an authenticity to this 'memoir' that is hugely impressive. The Roman political background, the push into North Wales, the strategy, intent, and mistakes, and the workings of the Roman army are all really impressively described while the disaster of the personal story is told brilliantly, all from a purely Roman perspective of course. And, seen as the enemy, and therefore necessarily distant, , the tribes of Iron age Britain also feel wholly authentic. Highly recommended.

Savage, brutal and beautiful

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

Reviewed: 15-08-18

This is a hard book to understand and it will no doubt mean different things to everyone who reads it. But it seems to me that it is like showing America the violent underbelly of its own history in a mirror. It is certainly not for the squeamish but the book has untold beauty nonetheless.

There is no internal world to explain how people feel, no mourning for the dead nor any moral outrage in the characters or the narrative, just the brutal, almost unimaginably bloody truth of the Glanton gang's scalp-hunting trip in Mexico in the 1840's.(1846/7)?

Overlaid on this deadly history is the Judge, surely the best devil I've ever read, and possibly one the greatest fictional characters I've ever read too. He towers over the book, pronouncing on the art of the ultimate game, war. He says, 'War was here before man came and will be here long after he is gone.' (paraphrased) And when I think of the slaughter of the natives, the Texan war of independence, the American Civil War, the mass graves still being dug for the victims of the drug wars, I can't say I feel able to disagree.

I have listened twice and read this in print and I don't understand it all by any means. It is a book that asks questions rather than answers them but it is a favorite precisely because of its enduring enigma. I will never forget the Judge, the kid, Glanton and the rest. And I will never forget the savage electric beauty of McCarthy's desert. The Attack on Captain White's mercenaries takes my breath for its imaginative power and fine writing. For me this is a work of genius.

Viriconium cover art

Great writing. Strange and affecting stories.

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

Reviewed: 05-02-18

I came here after reading 'Climbers'. I loved that book so much. Not because I climb a bit, but because the gritty landscape writing and wonderful character portraits and the sense of loss and confusion stark honesty and humanity had me re-reading it quite soon after I finished. 'Climbers' is a wonderful book that gives more, the more you dig.

A pity, I then thought, that this guy, Harrison, turns out to be mostly a science fiction writer. Not usually my thing. But such was my appetite for more that I took this collection of three novels to a month-long job down south.

There are three quite different novels here and yet the same sense of thoughtful confusion suffuses the unlikely heroes and strange enemies of the 'afternoon cultures'. Nothing is certain. The flawed heroes, the dwarf, the last space pilot, the insect aliens and everything else that is in here comes from a kind of polluted fog of deep time. The writing is great and from the confusion comes a rather touching and yet indefinable coherence.

Its not 'Climbers', but it is really good.

2 people found this helpful

A fascinating glimpse back in time.

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

Reviewed: 21-04-17

I stayed for a few months in the west of Ireland in the 1980's and even then heard echoes of these kind of beliefs. Particularly I remember a standing stone left in place fifty foot in the air on its cone of untouched earth as the quarry men who had taken everything around it away, 'would not want to disturb the 'good people.'' Whatever they actually believed it was strong enough not to move the stone.

One hundred and fifty or so years earlier some people in the west of Ireland must have believed all manner of superstitions, and in this story superstition looms very large indeed and pretty soon things get out of hand. Hannah Kent has beautifully drawn the women here in an engaging but increasingly tragic affair.

After reading Burial Rites I was dreading her second novel in case it was not so good but I think she has cleverly brought this claustrophobic story alive with subtlety, sympathy and deep understanding.

In my view it is almost as excellent as Burial Rites.


4 people found this helpful

Another memorable story.

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

Reviewed: 25-11-16

After 'The Tenderness of Wolves' and 'The Invisible Ones' Steff Penny has won my trust as a storyteller. I would read anything she writes and there is lots to admire about exploration and hardship and the native Greenlanders but I was not gripped at the start.The story develops into a love story stretching from London and New York to the Arctic. It is written with a subtle intensity and completeness that includes some very graphic descriptions of intimacy. The power of these scenes and how they contrast with the society of the time is undeniable and is realised in the very satisfying final chapters when some of the tension is built on our knowledge of them. My favorite of Ms Penny's novels remains 'The Invisible Ones' but here is another excellent book full of interesting and well drawn people. It is almost a week since i finished it and I still think of the final scenes.

2 people found this helpful

Something less than the first two.

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-10-16

The first two were entertaining, but this time I could not quite suspend my critical faculties. Firstly, I'm afraid to say, I did not believe in the 'the Ledger's' significance, which rather pulled the rug for me. And i got the impression that too many transparent devices were used to get Thomas to the action of the moment and to a showdown with the too vile and disgustingly ugly sadistic villan.

It also seemed too unlikely that our poor folk were hobnobbing around with major figures of the time. Throughout I wasn't convinced with King Edward's character, especially when he is taken into Warwick's power and is to be found in high spirits... instead of being indignant he is trolling happily off hunting with our working class hero as his mascot. In my eyes this made him seem a bit childish. Sorry Toby, good luck, but i'll leave it here.

2 people found this helpful

Resistance is, eventually, futile.

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

Reviewed: 15-10-16

Posh society in nineteenth century rural England is not really my thing. Classic stories of reputation, honour and doomed love... Nah. not for me, I thought. But Middlemarch is supposed to be one the greatest novels.

Quite a claim. So when i had some work to do that meant I had some serious listening time ahead of me I begrudgingly thought i would do my duty. At first all was as I expected; an archaic story about stuffy and privileged people who need a kick up the backside... Where are the working people? Where are the servants and tenants?

But in time I put away my modern self and began to understand that the attraction is in characters that are so well drawn you understand them perfectly, and so believable are their actions and yearnings that listening to Middlemarch got steadily less and less tiresome. It became a quiet pleasure, and eventually a whole-hearted and peculiarly innocent JOY.

I may even have cried a little, though this seldom occurs to me and I would not tell anyone i know... ;-)

An absolutely superb reading by Juliet Stevenson too. Top of the class.

18 people found this helpful