Listen free for 30 days

The Algebraist

Narrated by: Anton Lesser
Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (255 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year. The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilisation. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living in a state of highly developed barbarism, hoarding data without order, hunting their own young, and fighting pointless formal wars.

Seconded to a military-religious order he's barely heard of, part of the baroque hierarchy of the Mercatoria, the latest galactic hegemony, Fassin Taak has to travel again amongst the Dwellers. He is in search of a secret hidden for half a billion years. But with each day that passes, a war draws closer, a war that threatens to overwhelm everything and everyone he's ever known.

As complex, turbulent, flamboyant, and spectacular as the gas giant on which it is set, the new science fiction novel from Iain M. Banks is space opera on a truly epic scale.

©2004 Iain M. Banks (P)2004 Time Warner AudioBooks

Critic reviews

"Once again Banks is having enormous fun with space opera, and his exuberant enjoyment is infectious. Highly readable stuff." ( Amazon.co.uk)

What listeners say about The Algebraist

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    128
  • 4 Stars
    81
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    8
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    99
  • 4 Stars
    44
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    5
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    99
  • 4 Stars
    44
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Jolly good

Jolly good, but I see this is abridged. There is an unabridged version which I borrowed from the library (well done Herts County Council). Excellent, perhaps it is the same narrator.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect

Iain Banks could write a parking ticket and I would probably read it 1000 times and smile with glee. The man is a genius and the only author I would have to dinner. Anton Lesser reads this better than any other audiobook I have (and I have a few), his nuance and fleshing out of the characters is so subtle and correct whilst not being dramatic..this is a near perfect audiobook on all fronts.

9 people found this helpful

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

Maths can be fun

Superbly written, as one would expect from Banks. Also an exiting listen, and I really hope that more will be added to Audible's library soon. Here`s hoping time does not run out...

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good recording, but ...

A great book, that suffers for being abridged. Shame.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sadly Abridged

What disappointed you about The Algebraist?

This recording of the Algebraist is unfortunately an abridged version which also suffers from a poor narrator. Right at the start of the book is a wonderful passage about the beginning and ending of stories which has been cut out in this abridged version. The earlier unabridged version read by Geoffrey Annis (not available on Audible) is much better even though Annis does not have the mastery of Peter Kenny in reading Banks.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Whilst Fassin is a very likeable hero and provides a lot of hope at the end in an almost uncharacteristic way for Banks the favourite characters in this novel have to be the dwellers. The creation of an extremely long lived society with apparent disregard for anyone else that the so called quick species utterly fail to understand provides fabulous insights into the human psyche but also much humour.

What didn’t you like about Anton Lesser’s performance?

His reading does not bring the characters in the book to life nor does it justice to the more contemplative parts of the text.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The Algebraist is probably my all time favourite amongst the Iain M Banks novels showing the futility of human actions but also providing hope in the end.

Any additional comments?

Audible should have an unabridged version of this story available as this unabridged version does the book no justice.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Requires you to pay attention

This a great story, gripping and not one you could guess what was coming at all, very entertaining overall. My one and only problem with it as an audiobook, if it is a problem at all, is that you really have to pay attention! This is not an audiobook you will easily listen to whilst you have to think about doing anything else. Its one for lying back and paying attention to other wise you can loose track of what is happening. Great for a plane journey or something, not so good for work or the gym....I suppose though that a story you have to pay attention to is a good thing really. I kept this one for times I had nothing else at all to think about other than the story.

4 people found this helpful

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

A great book spoilt

Would you try another book written by Iain M. Banks or narrated by Anton Lesser?

For me this was the last of the Iain M Banks novels, sadly he's died and so there will be no more for me to collect. I'd kept this one to last since it was abridged and normally I prefer to get the whole story. The abridgement here has massacred what was my favourite non culture Iain M Banks'. The whole reason why Fassin turned traitor is missing, the reason why other characters exist in the story has been lost. Key elements of Fassin's return have been removed.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Algebraist?

The Dwellers reaction to threats is wonderfully amusing.

Would you be willing to try another one of Anton Lesser’s performances?

Yes, but I would look them out especially. It would depend on the story. I prefer to do without the sound effects too.

Was The Algebraist worth the listening time?

Yes, but it was so much less than it could have been and deserves to be.

Any additional comments?

I found the production annoying too.
Please Please Please can we have Peter Kenny read the whole of this book for us, like with the rest of the series.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Agebraist

This is a book was written by someone from another galaxy, science fiction at its very best. Don't plan to do anything else when you start to listen to it, if you do you will be late.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Better than the book

This is where audiobooks shine. What might have been a ponderous and overly complex story is gently tweaked into a mighty yarn. In this example, the reader is excellent and breathes new life into what may have been dry prose.
The story takes some time to get going - there's probably two or three separate novellas at work here - but I'm happy to listen from part two over and over again. The final couple of hours is particularly rewarding.
As for the plot line of the Algebraist, you can read up elsewhere. It's clever, funny and rewards repeat listening.
I wish more IMB works were available.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good but not Banks's best by a long way

I really enjoyed this book, but compared to the majority of the Banks catalogue it falls a bit short. Having read The Player of Games and the rest of the Culture series, I'd purposefully left the "other" SF alone and must say, a lot of the concepts in this book could easily have fitted into the Culture universe.

Anton Lesser does an exceptional job reading the book and adds a lot of flavour to it. I generally knee-jerk react to odd sound effects in audiobooks, but the chapter divisions are atmospheric and well produced. All in all, this is a great production.

I really wish that Audible would get its act together and beef up the catalogue of his other SF. I'd love to hear the audio version of PoG and Look to Windward.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andrew
  • Andrew
  • 04-01-11

Not a good book to abridge

The original is a long book so this abridged version does not work very well. I liked the setting and would like to read the full version but it just felt like you were leaping from point to point in this version to get the key plot covered.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ralph Künz
  • Ralph Künz
  • 14-12-09

Mixed Package

The narrator does a good job in my opinion although the audio quality could be better. The problem is mainly that the unabriged version of this book is around 22 hours long. It's not an easy to follow plot and 2/3 of the story missing does not help.


3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andrew
  • Andrew
  • 24-06-07

Caution.

A quick browse on the Internet will quickly tell you that “The Algebraist” is a well regarded science fiction novel, indeed the reviews are sparkling with comments like “Far from formulaic”, “absorbing cast of characters and multitudinous subplots”, “space opera at its baroque best”, “bold, daring and epic”, “another magnificent work from Iain M Banks”, and I got a real sense of this in the opening passages. The plot centers on the search for a long lost formula that explains the process for faster than light travel. However, I could not get past the narrator, and the problem was the pacing. Simply, it was poorly read and at times indecipherable and so, for the first time ever, I abandoned an audio download. However, please listen to the sample and decide for yourself, for the science fiction genre is home to its fair share of bad books, and it sounds like this one is has real promise.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-12-08

Great Story

A 1st rate science fiction story. I love the sounds effects. Great narrator.