Listen free for 30 days

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically. See here for eligibility.
Illuminatus! Part I cover art

Illuminatus! Part I

By: Robert Shea,Robert Anton Wilson
Narrated by: Ken Campbell,Chris Fairbank
Try for £0.00

£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically. See here for eligibility.

Buy Now for £22.49

Buy Now for £22.49

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

"It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton".

So begins this original trilogy of conspiracies, Illuminatus!. For the first time in audiobook form, the unabridged epic is presented in all its grandeur, spookiness, hilarity, and brilliance.

The Illuminati, an inside joke? The lunatic fringe? Or a vast conspiracy hidden for centuries, unleashing it's power on a naive, defenseless world? It was the lousy luck of Saul Goodman, a tough, streetwise New York detective, to smell the trail in a bombed-out office - the heavy case he'd always dreaded. In a breakneck race against an awesome deadline, Goodman plunges down the trail of the ultimate conspiracy as the days fall away toward Apocalypse.

Filled with sex, violence, and rock-and-roll, in and out of time and space, Illuminatus! is only partly a work of the imagination. The trilogy tackles all the cover-ups of our time, from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on the one-dollar bill, and suggests a mind-blowing truth.

Part I: The Eye in the Pyramid is performed by the incomparable Ken Campbell and Chris Fairbank. In 1976, Ken Campbell adapted Illuminatus! for the stage, creating a 10-hour epic that went on to open the Royal National Theatre in London under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth II.

©1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (P)2006 Deepleaf Productions Inc.

Critic reviews

"If baseball can have a designated hitter, why can't science fiction have a designated underground classic? Well, apparently it can, and Illuminatus! is its name." (Booklist)
"The ultimate conspiracy book...the biggest sci-cult novel to come along since Dune." ( Village Voice) "If you want to read a riddle wrapped in an enigma within a conundrum that turns out to be the best secret in the world, get the Illuminatus! trilogy." ( New Age Journal)

What listeners say about Illuminatus! Part I

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    63
  • 4 Stars
    19
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    11
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    57
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    8
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    56
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    6

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

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Reader is annoying

Fantastic book, terrible choice of reader. His voice is grating as hell and very irritating. To be clear, the book itself is fantastic. a really funny, awesome trip. This is, sadly the WORST way to experience it. just read the damn thing, there are plenty of other audio books that don't make your ears bleed.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • JH
  • 02-11-10

Killed by the Reader

I just could not persist with this reader's style. It should be a tremendous story but the reader is shouty.

5 people found this helpful

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

Bonkers

I read with amusement other reviews that were horrified at Ken Campbell's narration, since this was the reason I decided to give this a go. An entirely appropriate narrator, and Campbell's dulcet tones are a perfect counterpoint to the filthiest sections. All utterly bonkers, but I now have better understanding of some of key subcultures & how they link up.

3 people found this helpful

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

An amazing trip

Great first experience with this book, already on the second part as I digested this one in only two days it was so engrossing. A freaky amount of synchronicity with experiences in my life made it even more engaging.

The performances were good only critique being that the mixing and mastering was poor, often breathing was very noticeable and even sirens heard at one point. Even with those little annoyances I will be listening again to this in the near future and have ordered off eBay some copies of original 70s paperbacks.

3 people found this helpful

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

Better the book

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Sadly, the narrator sounded both so surprised and overly melodramatic that the book lost all semblance of the original I read in my twenties. I switched off after 10 minutes.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Illuminatus! Part I?

The novel (and its follow-on parts) are excellent, trippy, Discordian novels and I'd recommend them if you like that sort of thing. But read the books unless they are re-recorded.

How could the performance have been better?

Please have somebody else record this book!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

All Hail Eris!

The classic uber-conspiracy. If all the conspiracies you had ever heard of were true, then this is what you would have.



Dan Brown this isn't. This is not a conventional novel. This is discordian.



All Hail Eris!

2 people found this helpful

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

Brilliant nonesense, excellently narrated

Illuminatus! book 1 is a brilliant mixture of all the conspiracy theories sent to the authors whilst they were editors at Playboy. Since they were editors at Playboy, there are also some sudden sex scenes that pop up at unexpected times. What you end up with is brilliant nonesense and, for me, the perfect antidote to taking conspiracy theories or myself too seriously.

Some people have stated their dislike of the narrator, but I think that he is an inspired choice for this book. In a book that is meant to be a postmodern satire of conspiracy theories, fuelled by porn and acid, this is perfect. It makes me feel like going through my other Audible reviews and taking a star off performance for them.

The narrator describes things in a detached, slightly bemused sense of someone who is not quite sure that they are talking about. This results in the closest thing to an oral acid trip you can get and it makes the sex scenes hilarious. Try to listen to the description of the sex scenes in the way the narrator gives them and not laugh. You will find it impossible.

In a world filled with online hate fuelled by extreme groups, social media messing with democracy and rumours that Covid was made in a lab, it is a refreshing change to hear so many conspiracy theories put into a blender and turned into the wonderful nonesense of this book, leading to its own form of enlightenment. I enjoyed it most when just focusing on the book and nothing else. Never whistle while you're pissing.

1 person found this helpful

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

wanted to like this nonsense

it started off as a quite humorous and clever story, lots of interesting historical facts but halfway through starts to take itself far too seriously and when that happens it becomes too preachy and looses its charm, by the end I just wanted it over, can't see me listening to any of the others, I actually really enjoyed ken campbell's narration again some people have a problem with it not me very fond of the stuff he's done, Erasmus Microman was kinda a fave of mine when I was a kid so being British of a certain age probably helps as he's more well known here but he's the best thing about this book, and to think people actually take this as true is beyond belief, its over long confused but some people will love it I'm not one of them

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

Documentary disguised as fiction.

Good entertaining story with a lot of factual information entwined. Give it a listen, the narrator is excellent.

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

Best possible reader

obviously a classic of twentieth century lit. ideas, tropes, the number23, that are part of the culture now. but the reason to actually buy this audiobook is the late genius Ken Campbell, whose Science Fiction Theatre Of Liverpool brought the whole corpus to a legendary three day performance experience. some reviewers clearly weren't even born. they know nothing.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nonnie Mar
  • Nonnie Mar
  • 14-02-08

Over the Top and Proud of It

I read the trilogy in the 1970's when it first came out. There appears to be a limited audience for the book, as it is disjointed, difficult to follow, and all around over the top. But that is clearly the intent of the authors. This is not intended to be an intellectual discourse on conspiracies, religion, or whatever. But at another level, it succeeds at playing with conspiracies and religion and all in a way that, dare I say, enlightens the reader/listener.

Reading the book was difficult, and I did not have a linear recollection or understanding of the book when reading it or after it was finished. But it also stuck in my mind as one of the more original and intense books I have experienced (not read, experienced).

I just finished listening to this first book of the trilogy, and while I found the narrator's piratical, gruff and mumbling style at first off-putting, I quickly became convinced it perfectly matched the book -- the narrator's out-of-control stagger through a staggeringly out- of-control story has contributed to an understanding of the book which I did not get from wading through the written word 35 years ago. The other performer who does the voices equally contributes to a knowing experience of the book. For instance, one of the characters, a 23 year old hippie, is played as a naive juvenile. At first off-putting, it soon becomes a meta-comment on the character -- he is chosen for enlightenment because he is gullible, "but in the right way."

These books were never intended to be comprehended in a linear fashion, or in detail. More of an understanding of the whole. I plan to obtain the second book and listen after I decompress a bit, and hope the third one is also produced. Some of the messages echo strongly today -- the bad guys planned assassinations and terrorist acts which would leave Americans begging to surrender their freedom for security.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nikki
  • Nikki
  • 16-07-13

Narrator is Awful; The story is good

If there was a way to give less than 1 star to the narrator with the English accent, I would. There are two narrators, but the one with the obnoxiously, half drunk sounding English accent is makes this book the worst I've heard. He is screaming half the time and his attempts to do an American accent, especially a female American are abysmal. I am an avid audio book listener and generally not distracted by the narrator of a book. I have read this book previously and this narrator is actually making the story hard to follow. I'm less than 5 hours in and giving up on it. I can't take any more.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John
  • John
  • 26-03-08

there is nothing like Illuminatus!

As you should be able to gather from the other ratings and reviews, you will either really love this trilogy or really hate it. There are no tepid reactions to this one.

The disjointed presentation of the story (Think a literary version of Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" to get the idea, although the stories have nothing in common.) can make these books confusing at first. Still, I personally find a visceral impact to this trilogy that has not dissipated over time or many, many rereadings. There is literally no other book (or series of books) like this one.

The narrators do a good job translating this incredibly difficult piece to audio. I'm looking forward to the release of Leviathan.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Niels J. Rasmussen
  • Niels J. Rasmussen
  • 02-06-15

Narration SO BAD That I Couldn't Finish

Any additional comments?

I can USUALLY get over the fact that an audiobook might possess the unlucky fortune of having a poor narrator. This book was not the case.

I could only listen to the first hour of this book because the narration and production was so badly done. Not only was the main narrator's voice just... AWFUL... But they used a technique in the production in which they would use two people to divide up the voices of different characters. This was BEYOND annoying...

I honestly cannot give this book a proper rating when you consider that I only managed to make my way 1/13th into the story, but I didn't really like the material that I did make it through.

Pass on this one.

2.93 / 10.00

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S. Casey
  • S. Casey
  • 02-08-07

Excellent, and Misunderstood

This is one of the best books I've listened to. The confusion and disapproval illustrated by previous listeners, is probably due to a misunderstanding. This is the first third of a novel that was divided into 3 books because at the time it was too enormous to be published in the genre.
I'd highly recommend reading the rest of the book before judging the download.
If they don't release the rest of it, I'd imagine they'll have very limited success with the audiobook.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Joe Henriod
  • Joe Henriod
  • 30-03-15

This book is terrible.

Do not read this book. This is not the book you are looking for. This is my review. 5-23-17

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gregg
  • Gregg
  • 26-11-09

Pulls you in...

I admit the book was a turn off intitially because of the narators voice, however that changes as you grow accustom to it and eventually grows on you. The story line is a bit hard to follow but again once you get used to it, it becomes pleasing and reallly keeps your attention. Like the book I just got done with "the Lost Symbols", I found my self waiting for the next drive in my car to pick it up again. I will be gettting the next book soon, highly recomend to the not so easily entertained!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sandra
  • Sandra
  • 24-07-07

Over the top

I too am sorry that I wasted a credit on this book - and I listened to the whole thing!

First, the narrators. The main narrator was so completely over the top that I found myself laughing at him quite a bit of the time - not the response I think he was looking for. The second (character) narrator was just plain bad. His were among the very worst accents I have ever heard attempted, and his acting style reminded me of a bad high school musical.

Now to the book itself...again, "over the top" is the best description I can think of. This may have seemed profound when it was first published, but it struck me as just being a load of self-indulgent ramblings. I didn't have much trouble following the various characters through the book, as they were all very two-dimensional. I can imagine the authors congratulating themselves as they wrote the book on how complex, insightful, and profound they were being. This, of course, would have been in between drags on their bongs.

Although this book really is quite bad, every once in awhile there would be a passage that I enjoyed and that made me think - but these were few and far between and certainly not worth the other 11 hours that I spent listening.

Be aware that there are some very graphic sex scenes in this book. I wasn't offended by them, but most of them seemed gratuitous and out of place. Many of these scenes also made me laugh, as I pictured the authors as immature boys trying to imagine what it would be like to have sex with a "real" woman.

You might find this book interesting if you know absolutely nothing about conspiracy theories (which may be why this book became popular when it was first written). Otherwise, don't waste your money or your time.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Margaret A. Houchin
  • Margaret A. Houchin
  • 03-07-07

Margie

I am sorry I wasted a credit to download this book. I found that the narrators spoke too fast and jumped around so much that I couldn't keep up. I barely made it to chapter 2 before I had had enough. It may be that this is not my type of book, I don't know. What I do know is that I like all kinds of books . i was very disappointed. Margie

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for cmthomas
  • cmthomas
  • 28-05-09

Incredible and Mind-Bending

If you want to take a wild ride the likes of which you have Never experienced; one that'll make you laugh, cry, gag, and think then this is your book. Not to mention that this book prefigures Dan Brown's Angels & Demons by three decades. I think that the people here who seem dissatisfied were not ready for the Adventure that is the Illuminatus! trilogy. Seriously, this book is a challenge(it has a unusual, somewhat stream of consciousness style, but is certainly not nearly as difficult to apprehend as James Joyce's Ulysses or Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49) but the rewards are amazing. This book ranges over history, satire, science, the occult, sex, drugs, rock n' roll and more. If you want the same old pablum, buy some Kevin J. Anderson or a vampire romance. If you want something different, buy it all ready!

7 people found this helpful