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Covenant with Death

Narrated by: Mike Rogers
Length: 14 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

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Summary

They joined for their country. They fought for each other.

When war breaks out in 1914, Mark Fenner and his Sheffield friends immediately flock to Kitchener's call. Amid waving flags and boozy celebration, the three men - Fen; his best friend, Locky; and self-assured Frank, rival for the woman Fen loves - enlist as volunteers to take on the Germans and win glory.

Through ramshackle training in sodden England and a stint in arid Egypt, rebellious but brave Fen proves himself to be a natural leader, only undermined by ongoing friction with Frank. Headed by terse, tough Sergeant Major Bold, this group of young men form steel-strong bonds, and yearn to face the great adventure of the Western Front.

Then, on one summer's day in 1916, Fen and his band of brothers are sent to the Somme, and this very ordinary hero discovers what it means to fight for your life.

Stirringly told from the down-to-earth view of everyday soldiers, Covenant with Death is acclaimed as one of the greatest novels about war ever written.

©1961 John Harris (P)2014 Hachette Audio

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  • Malcolm
  • Neston, United Kingdom
  • 04-09-14

Factual entertainment

What made the experience of listening to Covenant with Death the most enjoyable?

The fact that although fiction it is based on truth. One can clearly picture the misguided enthusiasm of the Pals battalions as they rushed to their doom.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Covenant with Death?

Without doubt the morning they went over the top.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The pre enlistment medical, when men lied about their age, their occupations and their health, simply to make sure that they got into the war.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely.

Any additional comments?

Although written many years ago, it has lost none of its freshness. One to listen to again and again.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Stunning

Would you consider the audio edition of Covenant with Death to be better than the print version?

So moving, so well read . I felt the soldiers initial gung ho spirit, I felt their final feelings of loss. Brilliantly written

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eff , if you've been in the forces you've known an Eff!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Classic War story

Covenant with Death is, in my opinion, one of the all-time classic War stories, up there with All Quiet on the Western Front in bringing the First World War down to a personal level. I have read John Harris' novel two or three times and this recording by Mike Rogers does it full justice.

Colleagues from a newspaper in a Yorkshire city (not named but clearly Sheffield) are imbued with patriotism at the outbreak of war. As they train, face the inevitability of fighting and then arrive, eventually, on the Western Front, the scales gradually clear from their eyes as they realise that the only way this war will be over by Christmas is for them personally, by bullet, shell or bayonet.

It is a story of comradeship, naivety, duty and, above all, courage. Two years in the making, ten minutes on the destroying. That was the history of the Pals Battalions on the first day on the Somme, encapsulated in this book. Mike Rogers' laconic delivery suits the character of the protagonist, Mark Fenner, to a tee.

It is an epic sorry with an emotionally charged finale. Listen and remember.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 03-12-15

If you liked Birdsong, this is for you

Both well written and read, this book will never go out of date. In this centennial year it is a timely reminder of what we owe to the characters in this remarkable book. Definitely worth a read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A brilliant and thought provoking story.

Would you consider the audio edition of Covenant with Death to be better than the print version?

Yes

What was one of the most memorable moments of Covenant with Death?

Fenners realisation of Helens feelings for him.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I think sadness was my overiding feeling not joy.

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

Of men and heroes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent

Where does Covenant with Death rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the story of something unique - the 'Pals' battalions in the British Army in World War One. They were a completely new idea - a volunteer citizen army, not professional soldiers and not reservists. They learned to be soldiers completely from scratch. Morale, comradeship, courage were of the highest. Tragically, they didn't last long. Most went into battle on the 1st July, the first day of the battle of the Somme, what was called the 'Big Push'. Most never even fired a shot in anger. They were shredded on that first day. Literally shredded. This novel tells the story of one such 'Pals' battalion from one northern city. Only one professional soldier in the whole lot, a Regimental Sergeant Major from a Guards regiment plus one retired veteran, and they had the job of turning all these civilian men into soldiers.

What did you like best about this story?

It was intensely moving, funny in places, very realistic, you could almost imagine you were there. The author pulls no punches at all.

Have you listened to any of Mike Rogers’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven't, but I like his voice. Would be happy to hear another book read by him.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story

I first read this book over thirty years ago and still have a copy. Also have it on e-reader and now on this format.
For my money it is the best war novel ever written and I would love to see it as a TV series as well.

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Touching

Would you listen to Covenant with Death again? Why?

I would probably not listen to the story again. Not because it is not good (it is, very) but because over the book (which takes time to get going) I really developed a strong attachment to quite a few of the characters. The final few chapters therefore became quite maudling with some characters I expected to be fine coming to unfortunate ends.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Sergeant Major I felt really came across as the professional. You could tell he cared about his men, wasn't afraid to voice concerns but then made the best oif a bad situation.

What three words best describe Mike Rogers’s voice?

evocative, clear , honest

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

As mentioned, the final few chapters were quite hard but I was really absorbed, even dropping back a couple of times to make sure I caught something. I was very sad when it finished.