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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2004
This audiobook of Valerio Massimo Manfredi's "Alexander: Child of a Dream" was abridged by Keith Darvill to a 3 hour story recorded on 3 CDs and it's read by Derek Jacobi. It's the first volume of a trilogy: 1) Child of a Dream, 2) The Sands of Ammon, 3) The Ends of the Earth. I enjoyed Derek Jacobi's reading of 'Child of a Dream' so much that I intend to buy the rest of the trilogy.
The young Alexander, privileged product of a mating between a rich and powerful king, a beautiful and clever queen and (the queen believed) a god, seemed a very pleasant and caring youth, considering all the slaughter and mayhem he ordered and participated in as he grew and matured. His mother, Olympias, was an ambitious, ruthless dabbler in ritual and magic. His father, Philip, was King of Macedon, wise in military matters, a great warrior and leader of his people - fighting to unite all the Greek nations. His sister, Cleopatra, married her mother's brother (another Alexander). His tutor, Aristotle, later became the detective and, with the help of his nephew, investigated the murder of King Philip.
The satisfying thing about this sort of novel is that you can learn something at the same time as you're being entertained. I had to get out an atlas to find out where the characters were marching and where the action was taking place. It would have been better if a map of the area had been included with the audiobook. There was a map of Middle Earth in the BBC's Lord of the Rings radio play CD box, so I know it sometimes happens. In any case, I had an atlas fortunately and was able to follow the action across page 38.
I started listening to stories almost by accident about 2 years ago when I got a virus that put me in bed and made it hard to focus my eyes. Now my eyes can focus again and even though I read a lot of books, I still enjoy listening to stories. It's a different sort of pleasure. If you haven't ever listened to an audiobook, I suggest you try it. This one is pretty good. Derek Jacobi is one of the best readers. Other good readers you might also like to try are:
Alex Jennings who reads Robert Harris's 'Pompeii' (abridged);
Martin Shaw or Rob Inglis who read the Tolkien books (abridged and unabridged);
Philip Pullman reads his own 'His Dark Materials' trilogy (unabridged);
Douglas Adams reads his own 'Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy' books (5 of them, all unabridged).
A lot of books are available as audiobooks now and I've only come across one so far, that I haven't liked.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Few authors can be better equipped to write about the history of ancient Greece and Rome than Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Professor of archaeology at the the university of Milan, he has carried out many excavations and expeditions in the Mediterranean region. He has produced many factual books on historical matters, mainly military and has still found the time to write several novels and this is one of the best of them.

This book is the first of a triology about probably the greatest warrior and general who has ever lived, bearing in mind that Alexander died at an age when most men are only just starting to make their mark in life. Alexander is of course one of histories most colourful and well know character. Even people with little or not interest in ancient history will have heard of Alexander, a charismatic and larger than life figure.

This first book is the story of a boy born to royal parents. His father, Philip of Macedon, a great warrior and king in his own right and his mother, Philip's alluring queen, Olympias. Alexander was a handsome boy with a quick and ready wit and great intelligence that was nurtured by his tutor, Aristotle and with friends like Ptolemy and Hephaiston Alexander was moulded into a man who was going to conquer the then known world.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2002
I found the writing very stilted, though (as has been said) this could be the fault of the translator. I had the impression of a historian wanting to show off his knowledge, and found no real enjoyment in the tone or phraseology of the book. Fortunately, this doesn't matter, as a good trilogy on Alexander has already been written. If you don't know the books, do read Mary Renault's 'Fire From Heaven', 'The Persian Boy' and 'Funeral Games'. (Gore Vidal called them something like 'a magnificent creation and re-creation of the life of Alexander'.) I am currently reading 'The Persian Boy' for the umpteenth time - in it, I think Renault found her most mature voice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2001
Having an interest in the ancient world I looked for a novel that would satisfy my curiosity and at the same time offer a stimulating, brutal adventure of a story. Having read the novel several times I can honestly say that this novel satisfies all the aforementioned criteria. What impressed me about this novel was the historical accuracy of events in Alexander's life portrayed so vividly and colourfully in the novel. From his close relationship with his mother, Olympias to his passionate affairs with Leptine, Hephaiston and most unforgetably Pancaspe, the ancient beauty, whose bewitching ways led a thousand men to stray.
Hail, to Pancaspe! Hail, to Philip, King of Macedon! Hail, to Alexander!
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Few authors can be better equipped to write about the history of ancient Greece and Rome than Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Professor of archaeology at the the university of Milan, he has carried out many excavations and expeditions in the Mediterranean region. He has produced many factual books on historical matters, mainly military and has still found the time to write several novels and this is one of the best of them.

This book is the first of a triology about probably the greatest warrior and general who has ever lived, bearing in mind that Alexander died at an age when most men are only just starting to make their mark in life. Alexander is of course one of histories most colourful and well know character. Even people with little or not interest in ancient history will have heard of Alexander, a charismatic and larger than life figure.

This first book is the story of a boy born to royal parents. His father, Philip of Macedon, a great warrior and king in his own right and his mother, Philip's alluring queen, Olympias. Alexander was a handsome boy with a quick and ready wit and great intelligence that was nurtured by his tutor, Aristotle and with friends like Ptolemy and Hephaiston Alexander was moulded into a man who was going to conquer the then known world.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2003
Underneath the title of this book is printed 'Huge international bestseller'. Having read it through I am at a loss as to how it has acheived this status.
The first thing that struck me was the simplistic and faulty prose. At some points it tried to be poetic while at others it was very basic. The lack of depth in writing leads to poorly developed characters which in turn strips the story of its heart. It will undoubtedly be claimed that the original language version is better and that it has simply lost some of the flow in translation. While this may be, to some extent, true I do not believe that that alone is reason enough for the lack of passion conveyed in the story.
The tale of Alexander's life is however a fascinating one and many of the bare facts are laid down in the book as Alexander grows up to become King and lead an army into Asia. Although it can never be entirely factual Manfredi does his best to stick to history and this is where I found the book to be more satisfying. The politics and warfare of the period are much more adequately told and I do now have a yearning to know more.
All in all this book is neither particularly bad nor particularly good. It is maybe a reason for historians to write history books and leave novellists to write novels. There are reasons to read this book and I did not feel as though I had wasted my time in reading it but neither was I rushing into the second in the series. I will read the next book to find out how Alexander's journey continues but I will be hoping that he becomes a more interesting character as he grows older.
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on 5 March 2012
There are plenty of scholarly works about Alexander but there is something satisfying about a dramatization which brings him to life as he must have been in his early years. One of the enjoyments of the book are the dominant themes one of which is how he was groomed and shaped for greatness by his father. Another is how his achievements were the result of a blend of his fathers ruthless competitiveness & vision and his mothers mystical & adventurous side. There are so many exquisite vignettes in the book that it is hard to pick a favorite but it would be where he bids farewell to his brother-in-law Alexander King of Epirus who heads west just as Alexander heads East. It is worth a thought that had he gone the other way a small city state called Rome might not have got off the drawing board and the Greeks and Macedonians would not have been subdued in the century that followed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2001
Valerio Manfredi tries very hard to capture the essence of Alexander. However he does not quite make it! The characters are mainly two dimensional and lack the fire and depth of Mary Renaults Alexander triology.
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on 27 April 2013
After purchasing the first volume in a charity shop(for 60p), I couldn't help going on Amazon to get the sequels. However, whereas my first volume was the size of my hand - easy to carry around, the sequels are about twice as large in size. The larger size books have larger font, making them more user friendly to very young or elderly readers, but they are too big to carry around with you really, plus they probably won't fit on your bookshelf, unless it has sufficient height to accommodate a large book. Lesson: look for the smaller size version. ;)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2013
Much enamoured by the most faithful account of what actually happened that I have ever read and look forward with delight to the next two volumes. Thankyou
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