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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

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on 26 May 2017
You can never go wrong with a Robert Rankin book!
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on 4 June 2014
I had trouble suspending disbelief which is a problem in a fantasy book. I just haven't met such motivated and effective alcoholics.
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on 5 February 2014
Just what I was looking for, irreverent and fun. Rankin makes the normal come alive and the unusual so normal. Great start to the trilogy!
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on 28 June 2000
Robert Rankin - brilliant as always. Follow the two drunken heros Pooley and Omally as they fight evil in the town of Brentford where the most important thing for everybody is to make easy money and cheat even your best friend into buying you beer.
The characters are the best part of the whole Brentford series. They all have strong personalities, and you get to know them well which makes it even funnier to read about their reactions in certain situations.
Also, Rankin changes between the subtle, the explicit, the beautiful and the outright vulgar. You never know what he throws at you next.
This one is a definite must read for everybody who appreciates humour and recognizes the subtle differences in the choice of words.
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on 10 February 2008
I hadn't realised just how good a writer Robert Rankin was until I heard this wonderful dramatisation back in 2003. The Audio Antipope is an eight-CD set, running to a little under ten hours, bravely complete and unabridged. Full cast list included after the review here...

I had previously read and loved some of the later Brentford novels, of course, but nothing in fact from the seminal pair of volumes that started it all. I specifically link 'The Antipope' and 'The Brentford Triangle' in this way, of course, for two startlingly good reasons. First, about one-third of the 'Antipope' ms had to be culled before Pan would publish it, and much of this material found its way into the sequel. Second, this abundence of preparation, combined with Robert taking the opportunity to write around-the-clock (as opposed to several months part-time) meant that the sequel was practically finished in about three weeks. And I now know what he means when he says that, once they are let loose, Messrs. Pooley and Omally and their contemporaries usually 'write themselves'. There is little sense here of pain in the composition, only (quite rightly) pain in the experiences of the characters themselves, as they are carried along only semi-voluntarily in a flood of unnatural events that at first glance belong in Brentford like a herd of rhino belong in the English National Ballet. Stranger things have surely never happened.

Pooley and Omally are a delightful pair of cowardly, malingering dipsomaniacs loosely based on the author himself and an old schoolfriend of his. I pass no judgement on the matter. The characters around them all have something of the night, even if the night in question is just a typical one at Brentford's Flying Swan public house once the blinds and bolts are down, for they are all of the author's real-life acquaintance, athough Norman's shop is in truth not so Norman's as it was twenty-odd years ago, and I use the term 'real-life' purely for the sake of brevity. Precis? The lads team up with the aged and kindly local enigma that is Professor Slocombe to fight the ancient evil that befalls their Borough. They drink, are intrigued, drink, make enquiries, drink, get into trouble, drink, get distracted, drink, fight, run away, drink some more and fight some more and finally meet the end of the novel where they pop off for a quick drink in readiness for the next one.

As Director and Co-Producer, not to mention uncredited cast member, extra and (most importantly) Editor, the remarkable Phil Viner has achieved here something that makes your typical audio book sound like canal mud drying. The casting is strong and performances thoroughly professional, right down to some wonderful little cameos by friends old and new. Greenhalgh, Crowe and Gooderson are believable as Pooley, Omally and Slocombe, while Murchie and Campbell make a suitably deranged Neville and Archroy when required, and special credit has to go to Harry Myers for bringing the title character to life without stifling his theatricality.

Under Viner's direction, the author himself has been thoroughly whipped into shape as a starring narrator. Robert's son William's music is a revelation, matching the moods of many scenes and building atmosphere beyond the reach of most radio productions. And Robert's then-partner Sally performs perfectly alongside Robinson, as brewery salesgirls Sandra and Mandy, among others (if you haven't heard of Lucy Robinson yet, buy a bloody television). This is marvellous late-night listening, that would be Radio 4's 'Book at Bedtime' for an entire month if the BBC management weren't still a load of talentless inbreds.


Andy Greenhalgh as Jim Pooley
Ben Crowe as John Omally
Robert Rankin as The Narrator
Nick Murchie as Neville
Colin Campbell as Archroy
David Gooderson as Professor Slocombe
Harry Myers as [Pope Alexander VI]
Sally Hurst as Sandra
Lucy Robinson (Pride & Prejudice, Emma, lots of telly) as Mandy

Directed by award-winner Phil Viner.
Produced by Jools Viner and Phil Viner.

"All other parts are played by members of the cast", although Norman was clearly one of those played by the Producer-Director himself.
Original music composed and performed by William Rankin.
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on 7 June 2015
The Antipope was the first Robert Rankin book I’d read. It’s the first instalment in his Brentford trilogy. I can see why some people have suggested that his work is a little like Marmite. You’ll either love it or hate it. And the less “English” your humour is the less you’ll like it.

The meandering plot itself is pure madness. In fact, this genre hopping story is so crazy it’s hardly worth describing. It revolves around a couple of layabouts, a pub, magic beans, Pope Alexander VI and a plan to conquer the world. Before you know it the characters wrap themselves up in series of wacky misadventures and find themselves in any number of improbable situations.

Rankin weaves in lots of references to pop culture, daftness, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, slapstick and general strangeness. Of course, in the end they defeat the baddie. This means the protagonists can retreat back into The Swan and continue drinking massive quantities of alcohol once again.

Rankin’s writing style, humour and weirdness was as though Terry Pratchett was trying to write like Douglas Adams, with his brilliantly constructed sentences. One scene in particular was worth the price of the book: this was the build-up and execution of the cowboy party in The Swan. It was both inspired and insane.

But the book is a little hit or miss. Some parts work well, others seem to be too “out there”. As this was Rankin’s first novel he can be forgiven. It’s not a bad book and it’s good enough to make me want to read more of his work. I suspect they’ll get better.

So in summary, The Antipope is complete lunacy grounded in a version of the real world called Brentford. If you can bend your mind around the bizarre universe Rankin presents then you’ll enjoy it. I’m already looking forward to reading the next few books in the series.
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on 8 July 2017
Did nt read it
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on 9 January 2013
Of all the illustrious Rankin's works, none has jostled its way into my heart more than the brentford trillogy. Sprouts of Wrath was the first one I read (the fourth in the trillogy!) and from meeting Poole and O'Mally therein, I was hooked, had to go back to the first and follow the likely lads through all their adventures. Unlike his contemporaries, Rankin doesn't fall back onto tired characters to move the plot from a difficult situation with no likely escape (ie: having CMOT Dibbler turn up with a set of keys to open the cell), but uses a genius which lies in his nth dimensional mind to twist plots and reader through 720 degrees of inspired and incredible routes. Nothing is ever what it seems, and as is well known by those who know it well, because it is a tradition old charter or somesuch, what things seem is open to interpretation: and Rankin's interpretations of this world we live/ have lived / will live in are a merry-go-round of fun.
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on 10 June 2012
The story is reasonably entertaining if a little slow to get going.

Unfortunately the kindle edition of this book was really let down by the significant number of spelling mistakes - many of which look like OCR issues rather than outright bad spelling. For example (this is just a few):
- "torn" instead of "tom" (2008)
- "earless road" -- no idea! (2086)
- ".he" instead of "the" (2182)
- "ro" insteaf of "to" (2460)
- "him'?" instead of "him?" (2474)
- "n\an" instead of "man" (2847)
- "I\have" instead of "I have" (2848)
- "VFs" instead of "VIs" (3677)

There's also a number of places where
inexplicably occur midway through a sentence.

The table of contents is also broken - many of the chapter headings take you to the table of contents itself.

If you want to enjoy the story and not be distracted by poor presentation, then avoid this Kindle edition at all costs.

UPDATE 2012-07-02: The author has issued a new version of this book, and so I have amended my review from 1 to 3 stars. It would have been preferable not to encounter these errors, but I'm delighted to see the author proactively dealing with the problem and I shall now read the rest of the trilogy.
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on 17 February 2013
The Kindle version of this book was available free so I downloaded it when I was buying some others.

Of course this was the old loss leader scam as all the books in the series are now £4.00 - however, I guess Amazon and the author have to make a profit and there's no such thing as a free lunch. The scam worked because I've just paid £4 for the second in the series, so that tells you that this one (the first) is well worth the read.

So now to the book which is pretty weird. I was daunted at first by the flowery language which was wholly inappropriate to the characters, but I soon got used to it and warmed to each of them. It is sort of centred around a Brentford pub in the 50s/60s when we all used pounds, shillings and pence and the best description I can give is that it is a cross between Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and Last of the Summer Wine.

It made me laugh out load on more than one occasion.

If you want something light as a holiday read or for when you're sitting on the toilet this is it! Worth the £4.
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