I’ll be honest, I grabbed this title from Conn Iggulden because I’m obsessed with the ins and outs of the rise to power, and finding someone so integral yet unknown is always intriguing. Narrated by John Curless, please read on for my review of
The Abbot’s Tale
I’m an unabashed fan of intrigue and power games played in search of power, and while I admit to a favoritism for the Tudors, the oppoertunity to jump back into the nascent time of the Britain we all know was too good to pass up. Much like the flavor of a Wolf Hall or The White Queen, Iggulden takes us to Britain of long ago, 937 in fact, with the story of Dunstan of Glastonbury, and his rise to power and sainthood in bringing together a divided and oft-warring Britain. And like many of the powerful behind the many kings and queens of history, he’s a brilliant mind and strategist with few compunctions about making choices that serve him on his path to power. Unlikable even, Dunstan is near single-minded in his quest for ‘more’, be it power, influence, recognition or adulation: a cynic who never forgets a slight yet remains observant and sharp-tongued throughout the ups and downs of his life.
Backstabbing, murder, choices of life and love and the witty and often daring approach that Dunstan uses to better his life and position all start with the church – the one place where men from low birth could achieve the impossible and improbable, with nothing halting their forward progress but their own ambitions. Weaving together historic facts, imagined conversations and plenty of intrigues, the story is, after a rather oddly phrased prologue, instantly engaging, and gives readers a sense of a man to be watched, with admiration or disgust, as he navigates the world. With a country ruled by several minor kings, Viking Lords and a variant interest from the Church of Rome, the facility with which Dunstan maneuvers through the world, providing advice, censure and punishments to those who have wronged him, all while managing to keep his head on his shoulders to become one of the major influences that brought Britain together in the early stages of its formation.
Not sure what to expect from the tale or the narration, the performance b John Curless is wonderfully adept, allowing the often complex interactions to unfold and reveal themselves to the listener, keeping them intrigued in this gripping story that feels very plausible and almost logical, providing context for the intrigues and choices made. Curless presents the story with clarity that seeks to draw the reader into the text and the world that Iggulden has described, and allows each moment to stand solidly. I’m sure to come back for more from this author, and would gladly listen to more from this narrator.
Stars: Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5
Title: The Abbot's Tale
Author: Conn Iggulden
Genre: Biographic / autobiographic, British, Historical Fiction, Setting: Britain
Narrator: John Curless
Published by: Pegasus Books, Recorded Books
Published on: 1 May, 2018
Source: Recorded Books
Audio Length: 16 Hours: 43 minutes
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In the year 937, the new king of England, a grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to go to war in the north. His dream of a united kingdom of all England will stand or fall on one field—on the passage of a single day.
At his side is the priest Dunstan of Glastonbury, full of ambition and wit (perhaps enough to damn his soul). His talents will take him from the villages of Wessex to the royal court, to the hills of Rome—from exile to exaltation. Through Dunstan's vision, by his guiding hand, England will either come together as one great country or fall back into anarchy and misrule . . .
From one of our finest historical writers, The Abbott’s Tale is an intimate portrait of a priest and performer, a visionary, a traitor and confessor to kings—the man who can change the fate of England.
A copy of this title was provided via Recorded Books for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.