Customer Reviews

19
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Ballad of a Small Player
Format: HardcoverChange
Price:£12.08+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2014
Interesting, and good to begin with but then becomes a bit repetitive; although good very good observations of characters and a 'secret' world of gambling. But ultimately not very satisfying.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2015
This was the first novel of Osborne's that I've read, and wow, what a beautifully written one it was too. Having a cursory look through Osborne's portfolio, I could immediately see that he would draw comparisons with Graham Greene - comparisons that, on the strength of "Ballad", are well justified.

Ballad has just buckets of atmosphere - you can smell and taste the backstreets and casinos of Macau. You go on a terrific ride with Lord Doyle, the addicted gambler, as his luck pitches and rolls. Doyle himself is a wonderfully drawn character - a charismatic charmer or conniving conman? Is he a hero or an anti-hero?

I loved the prose in this book - it was atmospheric yet tight. It would be very easy to go overboard when describing Macau, I imagine, such is the colour and the life there. Yet Osborne paints a great picture and injects just the right amount of description to evoke his setting. However, it's also a human story and Lord Doyle and his doomed affair with a Chinese prostitute is superbly wrought.

All in all, 'ballad' is exactly the way to describe this novel - or maybe 'dream', or 'fantasy'. It is a strong story, yet somewhat ethereal. I feel that it's the kind of novel that would benefit further reading. At a relatively slim 224 pages, it's not a long read, and I dare you to read it in more than one sitting. It's not often I enthuse so much about a novel, but this one is bordering on the perfect.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
IF you’ve ever gambled or fought the demon booze and lost heroically, Lawrence Osborne’s latest will leave you breathless with recognition. This story of ‘Lord Doyle’, an on-the-run fraudster who’s blowing his stolen stash in the casinos of Macau, will strike a terrifying chord with some readers, and sweep the rest along with style and power.

Doyle’s self-destruction, and salvation at the hands of a Chinese hooker, has you itching for a happy ending, but feelings of dread and despair are sowed early.

Osborne’s descriptions of Macau and it’s lurid gambling joints, packed with smoke, fallen gwai lo and self-made tycoons, and the fading glory of its imperial past, make you want to jump on the next plane out with your life savings in a suitcase…especially if you enjoy a flutter. If you’ve never been there you’ll feel like you’ve lived in the old Portuguese colony all your life.

But what a tale! The Ballad of a Small Player will screw up your guts with anxiety for Doyle, fill you with hope then kick you hard in the nethers all in one well-weighted read. And in the end it will spook you, too.

No need to gamble, it’s an absolute winner of a book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Lord Doyle, not a lord at all but rather a corrupt lawyer who sponged funds from a client and then went on the run, finds himself in Macau, haunting the gambling dens and casinos, playing baccarat and, like most gamblers losing more money than he wins. When he meets Dao-Ming, a beautiful and enigmatic woman, his luck takes a turn for the better and suddenly the cards begin to fall in his favour. The stakes become ever higher, and the money floods in but is there, at the end of the line, a price still to be paid?

As several reviewers have mentioned Osborne's writing style, and indeed his central character in The Ballad of a Small Player, are reminiscent of Graham Greene at his finest. There is much of Greene's clipped elegance about the prose together with that sense of desperation and futility being an almost tangible part of the landscape. Lord Doyle with his strangely likeable air of cynicism and his ability to remain a gentleman (almost) no matter what fate throws in his direction also owes something to Greene's whisky priests, over-looked bureaucrats and faded gangsters. Everything in the book is narrated from Lord Doyle's perspective and as the story progresses we genuinely grow to care what happens to this, at heart, rather shabby individual.

There is, as you would expect from a novel with gambling at its core, a great deal in the book about luck and addiction. In particular the inability of the desperate gambler to leave a table either when he is winning or when he is losing is brilliantly highlighted. When she's against you Lady Luck has to be charmed and pursued; when she's with you there is an obligation to make the most of her affections. Either way you can't leave her alone. There is also, at its core, a beautiful, enigmatic ghost story in the book. Just who is Dao-Ming? What are the secrets of her past and what is the relationship between luck, fate, chance and the supernatural?

The Ballad of a Small Player is only just over 200 pages long but it is far from a simple tale about one man and his fascination with gambling. There's a real depth to the characters, situations and ideas as well as a real elegance to the prose. It is, I suspect, a book that would reward repeated re-readings. It's terrific stuff, and one of the most fascinating books I have read for quite a while. Recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I bought The Ballad of a Small Player while on holiday in Hong Kong and after a weekend in Macau.

Laid low by a virulent case of bronchitis from the return flight to UK, I settled down to read it and completed it (literally) in one feverish sitting.

A great story, with brilliant atmospheric descriptions of Macau, Hong Kong and Lamma Island. I loved it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2014
This book gives a clear description of the world of serious gambling and financial ruin. Do not be put of by this, the book, like gambling is compulsive. It is a good story of the seemy world of the far East and the fortunes, or lack of them, of one compulsive gambler. An excellent read.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2014
Great story, with a very visual and atmospheric portait of a gambler admist the glamour and seediness of Macao. This haunting tale is very oriental and written by someone who obviously loves Asia, from it's gutters to it's chandeliers.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2014
A fantastic read! The ending really knocked the stuffing out of me!!! Loved it! ..... So impressed, ive ordered Bangkok Days! .... And if its as good,i will plough through the rest of Lawrence Osbournes collection. ;)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2014
Fire cracker prose makes this book a compulsive read. The adrenalin ride of professional gambling is beautifully captured and you live every bet at the baccarat tables with 'Lord Doyle'. Little in the way of plot, and characterisation a little weak, but overall a compelling book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 25 July 2015
I really enjoyed this book. It gave an insight into the world of gambling which I am unfamiliar with ; Well written with a good plot- exotic location, a real treat- Will definitely read more by this author.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Hunters in the Dark
Hunters in the Dark by Lawrence Osborne (Hardcover - 7 May 2015)
£12.08

The Forgiven
The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne (Paperback - 3 April 2014)
£7.19

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Paperback - 23 April 2015)
£5.99
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.