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  • The Norman Conquest

  • The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England
  • By: Marc Morris
  • Narrated by: Frazer Douglas
  • Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 89
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 84
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81

An upstart French duke who sets out to conquer the most powerful and unified kingdom in Christendom. An invasion force on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great story, poor reading

  • By Matthew on 21-11-14

Great, fair, intriguing and informative

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

Reviewed: 13-02-16

What did you like most about The Norman Conquest?

This is certainly a well-researched, balanced, well-written and thought-provoking effort. I have to hand it to Morris - the guy knows his stuff. He presents evidence fairly and reasonably, draws good conclusions from it and keeps it all relevant and interesting.

I really recommend this book. You'll learn more about the Anglo-Saxons from it, but they're more interesting anyway, aren't they?

What did you like best about this story?

To disagree with another reviewer - he's not pro-Norman. I sense no sign of liking the bastard conquerer (a giveaway of my own bias, there?) from him, and no suggestion that he was a good man who invaded justly. And fair play to him, that's what we need in history. Nothing is bias-free, but this is as close as you'll probably get. We learn of lives, figures and a reconstruction in as good a fashion as we'll have so far at this time.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Frazer Douglas: they say start by being positive before making a point, but I'm going to start with the negative so as to eventually give him the justice he deserves. This narrator can't pronounce names and places (unless they're French) worth a damn! Even if it's a place name in his own country, still in use today (someone else rightly pointed out the 'Ely' problem), he messes it up. And when it comes to quotes, I find it interesting how narrators deal with them. Some leave a pause before and afterwards, some put in more emphasis...but this guy goes into a voice somewhere between James Mason and a grown-up Harry Potter! It's WEIRD. Like, what the flips? BUT - he's clear, confident and his voice doesn't tire or grate (except when quoting) - he keeps it interesting to listen to, which is what matters most, and what makes him good. Just do more research beforehand, dude.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The brutal end of a race, a language and of a united kingdom.

Or something much, much better than that....

  • A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons

  • Brief Histories
  • By: Geoffrey Hindley
  • Narrated by: Eleanor David
  • Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 65
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 61

Starting AD 400 (around the time of their invasion of England) and running through to the 1100s (the 'Aftermath'), historian Geoffrey Hindley shows the Anglo-Saxons as formative in the history not only of England but also of Europe. The society inspired by the warrior world of the Old English poem Beowulf saw England become the world's first nation state and Europe's first country to conduct affairs in its own language, and Bede and Boniface of Wessex establish the dating convention we still use today.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hard work. But...not bad.

  • By Laurie on 16-10-15

Hard work. But...not bad.

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

Reviewed: 16-10-15

Ok. From the start, you have to persevere with this one. At first it seems impenetrable - at least the first half of the book is a bombardment of facts, dates, names and hypotheses, and the head swims just taking it all on board. Add to that that within the general chronology of the book there's a fair amount of date-jumping, you could almost give up. After a while, however, I realised that it's not the author's inability to connect with his audience as I had first perceived it. Alright, it would make for easier digestion if he had more of a Tom Holland talent for telling the story of history instead of throwing the facts at you, but I have to say - and sorry Eleanor David - her narration of the book is, although clear....er....well, uncharismatic. Almost too proper. It's the only audio book I've ever spent so much time jumping back a minute or two to re-listen to parts because I zoned out. But, that aside, when the Vikings appear on the scene, Hindley starts to get more into the flow of telling the story of history and it all gets a lot better. Shame it took so long.

All in all, this is an often confusing but useful book for those interested in the subject. If you're new to the Anglo Saxons, I'd recommend starting with Michael Drout's excellent and fun lecture and then use this one to fill in any gaps.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Waking Up

  • By: Sam Harris
  • Narrated by: Sam Harris
  • Length: 5 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 992
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 852
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 836

For the millions of people who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’s new book is a guide to meditation as a rational spiritual practice informed by neuroscience and psychology. From bestselling author, neuroscientist, and “new atheist” Sam Harris, Waking Up is for the increasingly large numbers of people who follow no religion, but who suspect that Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the other saints and sages of history could not have all been epileptics, schizophrenics, or frauds.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This is Important.

  • By Lucas on 15-02-15

Sam Harris - how does he just keep on doing it?

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

Reviewed: 16-06-15

Fascinating - never a dull moment, never ceasing to make you think. Difficult to avoid losing track of where you are due to becoming lost in thought!

  • Animal Farm

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Simon Callow
  • Length: 3 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,379
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,067
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,059

Animal Farm is George Orwell's great socio-political allegory set in a farmyard where the animals decide to seize the farmer's land and create a co-operative that reaps the benefits of their combined labours. However, as with all great political plans, some animals see a bigger share of the rewards than others and the animals start to question their supposed utopia.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant classic, superbly read by Simon Callow

  • By Anthony on 15-06-14

Actors don't just perform on stage...

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

Reviewed: 26-02-15

Wonderful and chilling story brought to life brilliantly by Simon Callow. If only they could all narrate like that.... Full marks.