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swheelie

  • 14
  • reviews
  • 45
  • helpful votes
  • 38
  • ratings
  • The Darkening Age

  • The Christian Destruction of the Classical World
  • By: Catherine Nixey
  • Narrated by: Lalla Ward
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52

In The Darkening Age, Catherine Nixey tells the little-known - and deeply shocking - story of how a militant religion deliberately tried to extinguish the teachings of the Classical world, ushering in unquestioning adherence to the 'one true faith'. The Roman Empire had been generous in embracing and absorbing new creeds. But with the coming of Christianity, everything changed. This new faith, despite preaching peace, was violent, ruthless and intolerant. And once it became the religion of empire, its zealous adherents set about the destruction of the old gods.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Refreshing perspective but full of misinformation.

  • By joshua hodson on 16-01-19

Sloppy, naive polemic

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-03-19

Very poor piece of work that presents a caricature of early Christian sects as maniacal Taleban types. Just awful.
And I'm an atheist, so it's not that I'm offended by the critical perspective - just the appalling level of scholarship that underpins this tripe.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Vindolanda

  • By: Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 14 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 182
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 181

AD, 98. The bustling army base at Vindolanda lies on the northern frontier of Britannia and the entire Roman world. In just over 20 years' time, the Emperor Hadrian will build his famous wall. But for now, defences are weak as tribes rebel against Rome. It falls to Flavius Ferox, Briton and Roman centurion, to keep the peace. But it will take more than just a soldier's courage to survive life in Roman Britain.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • First class novel...

  • By Ray Carpenter on 31-01-18

disappointingly unsophisticated yarn

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

Reviewed: 30-12-18

I was expecting something more than the typical blood, sex and guts that often comes with this territory, given the academic prowess of the author. I'm sure there was lots of historical accuracy where this was possible, but the story itself was pretty unimaginative and the plot twists were signposted like Picadilly Circus. Standard issue characters with little depth or nuance, particularly the few female ones. Given the title and academic background of the author, I was hoping for something more insightful and thoughtful, but alas this was not the case.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Apprentice - Scarlet City - Part I

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Rebecca Gablé
  • Narrated by: Douglas Booth, Miriam Margolyes, Alison Steadman, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,286
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,088
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,082

A rags-to-riches tale, Jonah's journey spans the breadth of human experience, from the intricacies of Edward III's political intrigues to the cutthroat world of international trade, from the triumphs of war to the agonies of personal loss - love, friendship, joy, heartbreak and glory. Set largely in London, the Scarlet City, the centre of medieval England, the Scarlet City trilogy is a thrilling portrait of the age and the people who made it so rich, colourful and extraordinary.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing!!

  • By Daniel on 09-12-17

Very badly written, full of cliches and one-dimensional characters

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-18

I thought this would be a bit of light historical fiction to listen to in the car. The cast looked good,and the general synopsis looked interesting. However, it started poorly (seriously, a 'dark and stormy night'?) and became progressively worse. Written for adults with a reading age of ten. I did actually wonder whether I'd mistakenly bought a children's book, that is until the rape scene (again, cliche ridden). Avoid if you value even half-decent writing and storytelling.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • World Without End

  • The Kingsbridge Novels, Book 2
  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 45 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,472
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,781
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,779

On the day after Halloween, in the year 1327, four children slip away from the cathedral city of Kingsbridge. They are a thief, a bully, a boy genius, and a girl who wants to be a doctor. In the forest they see two men killed. As adults, their lives will be braided together by ambition, love, greed and revenge. They will see prosperity and famine, plague and war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bereaved when it ended

  • By bex4ad on 15-03-11

One-dimensional, recycled characters

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

Reviewed: 27-03-18

I got this after enjoying some aspects of the first book, and forgetting how superficial the characters were. Unfortunately, there is no improvement in the second of the series, and the characters are almost facsimiles of those in the first. I dropped out after chapter 6...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Broken Faith

  • By: Toby Clements
  • Narrated by: Jack Hawkins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 733
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 668
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 668

Set during England's bloody and brutal War of the Roses, this is the second novel in an epic historical fiction series. If you liked Conn Iggulden's Stormbird, you will love Toby Clements' Kingmaker novels. October 1463. England is a divided nation. In the north the Lancastrian king struggles to hold power while in the south the princes of the house of York prepare for war.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good, if a little harrowing

  • By swheelie on 05-08-16

Good, if a little harrowing

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

Reviewed: 05-08-16

I started this straight after the first book. I found it quite draining, to be honest, as there is little let-up in the sequence of harrowing events that befall the main characters. It could have used some light relief at some point, as sometimes I felt like I was listening to Hardy's Jude the Obscure, but with even more death and misery!
Still, the plot was engaging, if a little tenuous at times. A little more description and character development would have improved it considerably as otherwise it ended up being a bit of a trashy thriller, which it didn't have to be. But overall I enjoyed this book and will crack on with the third installment.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Winter Pilgrims

  • Kingmaker, Book 1
  • By: Toby Clements
  • Narrated by: Jack Hawkins
  • Length: 17 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,212
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,134
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,129

February 1460. In the bitter dawn of a winter’s morning, a young man and a woman escape from a priory. In fear for their lives, they are forced to flee across a land ravaged by conflict. For this is the Wars of the Roses, one of the most savage and bloody civil wars in history. Where brother confronts brother, king faces king, and Thomas and Katherine must fight just to stay alive....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fantastic read

  • By Loraine on 10-01-16

Excellent

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

Reviewed: 03-08-16

Great story, well told. Well researched too. Captures the landscape brilliantly and submerges the reader in the 15th century during an awful period of English history.

  • 1177 B.C.

  • The Year Civilization Collapsed
  • By: Eric H. Cline
  • Narrated by: Andy Caploe
  • Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 73

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the "Sea Peoples" invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant book: shame about the narrator.

  • By Michel on 24-04-14

Trying to squeeze too much from too little

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

Reviewed: 28-12-15

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No - none of my friends would find this remotely interesting.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Pretty average, slightly dull tone.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Silly question.

Any additional comments?

I found this quite underwhelming. I was hoping for an overview of pre-collapse history in the western Mediterranean cultures followed by a discussion of the events that occurred during and after, as well as the effects of the collapse on cultural development in the area and changes in the major political entities. Instead there was far too much methodological discussion - not really that relevant or interesting for the intended audience. Pity.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Conquerors

  • How Portugal Seized the Indian Ocean and Forged the First Global Empire
  • By: Roger Crowley
  • Narrated by: John Sackville
  • Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 89
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

As remarkable as Columbus and the conquistador expeditions, the history of Portuguese exploration is now almost forgotten. But Portugal's navigators cracked the code of the Atlantic winds, launched the expedition of Vasco da Gama to India and beat the Spanish to the spice kingdoms of the East - then set about creating the first long-range maritime empire.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Conquistadors versus Sinbad

  • By Jim on 16-01-16

Fascinating story, rarely told.

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

Reviewed: 16-11-15

Any additional comments?

Very well-written and researched. Almost exclusively told from the Portuguese perspective, but this is not supposed to be a well-balanced historical analysis - it's a story, so that's OK I suppose. Well narrated and engaging.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The History of the Ancient World

  • From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
  • By: Susan Wise Bauer
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 26 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 279
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 251

This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. This narrative history employs the methods of "history from beneath" - literature, epic traditions, private letters, and accounts - to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • interesting not riveting

  • By Amazon Customer on 15-02-18

Well written and engaging

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

Reviewed: 06-10-15

Covers a huge range of ancient history, linking events across Europe and Asia as they happen. The really ancient Mesopotamia is a bit dull and repetitive as the sources are fairly sketchy and generally describe incessant territorial struggles for dominance. Later events, where there is potentially much richer history to detail, suffer from being slightly rushed in places with massive issues omitted or glossed over. But what this book does do better than any other I've come across is to provide context, especially in a geopolitical sense. And it introduced me to lots of interesting topics that I intend to learn more about later. All in all I found the book very illuminating and interesting.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Alone in Berlin

  • By: Hans Fallada, Michael Hofmann (translator)
  • Narrated by: John Telfer
  • Length: 20 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 829
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 635
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 634

Berlin, 1940. The city is paralysed by fear. But one man refuses to be scared.Otto, an ordinary German living in a shabby apartment block, tries to stay out of trouble under Nazi rule. But when he discovers his only son has been killed fighting at the front he's shocked into an extraordinary act of resistance, and starts to drop anonymous postcards attacking Hitler across the city. If caught, he will be executed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A mesmerising, life-changing book. Buy it.

  • By James on 19-01-12

Incredible story, masterfully narrated.

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

Reviewed: 30-09-15

This has to be up there with nineteen eighty-four as a masterpiece of dystopian fiction, except this one in based loosely on a true story of a German couple trying to take a principled stand against the Nazi system. The author conveys with utmost clarity the terrible claustrophobia imposed by the totalitarian system and the care with which one had to go about one's daily business right down to the most mundane minutiae of everyday existence. There are no grand characters such as generals or politicians, and no action heroes, just everyday people reacting to events in very different ways: some exploit the system by becoming bullies, petty thugs and thieves, some try their hardest (often in vain) to keep their heads down, and a few do their best to retain their humanity against a system that exerts huge pressure to conform to an inhumane, pitiless normality. Written very soon after the end of the war, this story is a fascinating insight into a horrendous time in recent human history and ultimately shows the fragility of civilisation as we know it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful