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  • Anansi Boys

  • A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation
  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Josiah Choto, Jacob Anderson, Lenny Henry, and others
  • Length: 3 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 80

A new BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatization of Neil Gaiman's best-selling 2006 novel about Fat Charlie Nancy and his spider God father and brother taking over his life, and generally doing a better job of it than him. But will Charlie be able to get his life back without entering a whole new world of pain? Charlie Nancy first appeared in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, now a hit TV series.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Click the 'buy' button.

  • By Nigel on 04-02-18

Stunning

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

Reviewed: 07-02-19

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to listening to this. It's such a stunningly produced dramatisation (expect nothing less from Dirk Maggs), the performances are as good as you'd expect from a cast like this, and the story is a superb mix of colourful mythology and the real-world with some particularly endearing characters. Loved it!

  • La Belle Sauvage

  • The Book of Dust, Volume 1
  • By: Philip Pullman
  • Narrated by: Michael Sheen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 6,471
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,061
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,051

Philip Pullman returns to the world of His Dark Materials with this magnificent first volume of The Book of Dust series. Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them - a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping Story, Great Narrator

  • By Lorenzo on 21-10-17

Very good, but read His Dark Materials first.

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

Reviewed: 31-12-17

This is a very good book, and will work as a stand alone if you haven't read His Dark Materials. However, even though the events of this book occur prior to the events in His Dark Materials, if you're planning on reading the original trilogy, do so first. Definitely read them in publication order, not the chronology of the events in the books!

Whilst the story is very good (although lacking in the kind of jaw-dropping twists and revelations that characterise His Dark Materials) the biggest joy of this book for me was joining the dots and finding references from the originals. It's also quite possible reading this first will prove to be a spoiler for some events in His Dark Materials.

As already said, the storyline is good, and follows the events of baby Lyra's earliest experiences. The plot is quite linear and weirdly diverts into places which don't bear much resemblance to Lyra's world as I imagine it (I hope this will come to make more sense with the next two books) but the characters are superb. In Gerard Bonneville, Pullman has created one of the most terrifying figures in modern fiction! I can't imagine this being described as a children's book for this character alone, but his addition adds so much to the book. Malcom and Alice are great protagonists and the way their relatioship ebbs and flows is perhaps more interesting than the story at times. And Hannah Relf is so much more rounded and likeable than her brief appearances in His Dark Materials suggest (I hope in the later books she meets Mary Malone, they seem quite similar in many ways!)

The performance by Michael Sheen is mostly fantastic. One niggle is he whispers when characters whisper which, whilst realistic, is hard going when there's any background noise. And he shouts when events get dramatic, which isn't necessary. The story doesn't need that.

Certainly recommend this and to any fans of the original trilogy it's a must read.

  • Raising Steam

  • By: Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by: Stephen Briggs
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,362
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,164
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,160

To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Essential for fans, but not the best of Discworld

  • By Andrew John Rae on 19-11-13

Should come with a spotter's guide and an anorak

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

Reviewed: 19-11-13

Yes, the style's changed from most Discworld books, but that change was evident in Snuff too so I'm not sure why people seem so surprised by this. I don't like the long, unnatural speeches the characters make in the later books when apparently in conversation, but it didn't bother me as much in this book as it did in Snuff. Get past this, and the style is different but no less Pratchett.

What this novel really is, for the first half of the book at least, is a spotter's guide to Discworld, its characters and its history (nicely appropriate that - this book should really come with a ticklist and an anorak). I'm in no doubt that this book would be a real turn-off if I came to it cold or having read only one or two other DW books, but the first half of the book is so dense with old characters popping up, and sly references to events in past books, that I couldn't help but enjoy it - it made me feel like a complete geek to be honest. And the events whizzed past, with humour and quite a lot of darkness (lots of people killed in this book!) only really interrupted by the odd monologues Terry seems to love now.

The main train journey itself was well-written. I won't give anything away but the fantasy climax of this book, the most fantastic moment, is one of the best 'images' Pratchett has painted in his novels. The relationship between characters who'd previously not been in close quarters - particularly Vimes and Moist - was also intruiging.

There are some nice little twists toward the end of this novel too, which make this feel much more like Discworld of old than UA or Snuff.

This one's for readers already well-familiar with the Discworld. As I said, spotter's guide defintely needed!

(Stephen Briggs brilliant as usual too)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Neverwhere

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,940
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,619
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,623

Under the streets of London there's a world most people could never even dream of: a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautifully Neil Gaiman!

  • By Bookworm. on 23-12-12

Very dark in places..but stick with it

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

Reviewed: 06-05-13

At the beginning it's very hard to like any of the characters who seem to be improbable, wet or uncaring.

In the middle it seems like there is torture and blood for the sake of it and it was very tempting to turn off and find something else to listen to where people weren't being crucified or mutilated.

But stick with it. You do develop a connection with the characters who grow unexpectedly throughout the novel. The darkness is resolved and, having now finished listening to this, I'd say it wouldn't be the same book without it. It's a very original work, the idea of a parallel London is intriguing from the outset, and there are good plot twists.

By the end I was hooked, and pleased with how everything resolved itself. Well worth a listen but takes some stamina.