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Summary

A magnificent, sweeping history in which Rutherfurd captures the essence of the English heartland, from the author of Paris, London and New York.  

Few places lie closer to the heart of the nation's heritage than the New Forest. Now, Edward Rutherfurd weaves its history and legends into compelling fiction. From the mysterious killing of King William Rufus, treachery and witchcraft, smuggling and poaching run through this epic tale of well-born ladies, lowly woodsmen, sailors, merchants and Cistercian monks.

The feuds, wars, loyalties and passions of generations reach their climax in a crime that shatters the decorous society of Jane Austen's Bath and whose ramifications continue through the age of the Victorian railway builders to the ecologists of the present day.

©2000 Edward Rutherford (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

BEST BOOK EVER

A combination of nature, history and family soap opera through generations. It has everything.

30 people found this helpful

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Superb

This is another excellent book by Edward Rutherford. It leads us through the history of the New Forest from the time of William II (Rufus), skilfully weaving in some very entertaining stories with fascinating factual information concerning the region.

The only addition I would have found useful would have been a comment at the beginning stating which characters were real historical figures and which ones were the inventions of the author. I have had to do a lot of "Googling" to ascertain which stories were fact and which were pure fiction.

Other than that, this is one of the best book of its kind, and I do believe Edward Rutherford is in a class of his own in that regard.

Another very important aspect of an audio book is the narration, and I can truly say I found Roger Davis' work here to be flawless. A perfect reading of an excellent book.

I recommend it without reservation.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Narrated is terrible

I cannot get on with this narrator at all. I love Edward Rutherfurd and have read Sarum and listened to Dublin. But I really cannot listen to Roger any longer!

11 people found this helpful

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History with emotions.

Mr Rutherfurd is a master story writer. His books take you on a chronological journey through time interspersing family dynamics with actual events. It’s such an interesting way to learn history. Having read all of his books, seeing each of them come alive with Audible is a pleasure indeed. I get excited every time I see his books appear.
Yes they are tomes, but they are a series of shorter stories that follow each family through the generations, so there’s always something interesting happening.
If you love history you’ll love these books. I cannot recommend them enough.
Treat yourself.

22 people found this helpful

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Storytelling at its best

Edward Rutherford deconstructs history following fictional families for over a thousand years. As ever names and characteristics emerging during different periods.
Most of the tales are tongue in cheek with twists and turns in family interrelationships and fortunes. The effect of politics of each era intertwine throughout giving a memorable tale.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Grand story spoiled by poor narration!

This book is a slow burner to be sure! Prepare yourself for the long haul and expect to be patient.
Halfway through the first part of the story (it took me that long to really get into it) I started to become interested in the mundane everyday events the story depicts.
The book begins with a rather sweet tale of a group of deer and their lives, which I got quite into, alongside the life of a young French woman from Normandy, set in 10th century, which is where the book begins.

Every new part of the book is a century or two further on. Quite interesting to follow the same group families down the centuries. By Charles 1st's time, the story began to be a little self-conscious, rather like Edward Rutherfurd had swallowed lots of history books and then tried to bring them to life, which is clearly what this book is intended to do.
One rather obvious omission was the Great Plague, as well the Great Fire of London, which I was very disappointed about. It made it look as if Edward Rutherfurd couldn't be bothered to write about anything that exciting. The story takes up from 5 years after the Plague, when this would have been a wonderful opportunity for a bit of sympathetic and emotive storytelling.

In general I found it impossible to warm towards any of the characters or get very emotionally invested in the book at all. This was possibly because I knew that I would only know them for a few years before the book flipped onto another time period and then they would be lost. Also because a lot of them were killed.

Two things spoiled this book for me from the start (and continued to do so throughout the book).

One is the extremely long sentence structure used by Edward Rutherfurd, which makes it hard to follow most of the plot. I get that the long sentence structure and verbose descriptive style is something that was more used back in the 1940s when this book was written. However, it does exclude a large section of today's modern population from enjoying this book. I found I had to be really focused totally on listening to the story and couldn't do anything else. (which for me rather negates the whole point of having an audiobook, which I use as an accompaniment to everyday activities). If you try to sew or drive it's easy to get lost between the beginning and the end of a sentence and then wonder what he is talking about. Quite nice to go for a walk in the woods while listening to it however.

The second thing that spoils this otherwise pretty good book was the narrator. I can't put my finger on exactly what it is the best way to describe it. His voice is pleasant enough in tone, but he has a very jerky, unflowing, almost robotic style of narration which makes the retelling of the book sound halting and tends to interrupt your suspension of disbelief as you try to follow the story. I suppose the best way of describing it is like travelling in a car where somebody keeps putting their foot on and off the accelerator. It's almost like there's a full stop in the middle of most of the sentences. It's a very strange style of narrating. I expect he thinks he's being extra clear by enunciating every word ultra clearly, but it does not make for a pleasant listening experience. I personally found it extremely distracting, and especially with such an extremely long book, really quite wearing to listen to over a period of time.

Quite a lot of the characters in the book are French, and unfortunately the narrator's French accent is bad enough to be irritating. There are minimal changes of voice tone and inflection for different characters and emotions, which also detracts from the story. Initially I nearly gave up on the book at the first chapter, thinking what the hell is this guy doing to the story?

I had just finished listening to Edward Rutherford's other book "Earth Abides" which has an absolutely excellent narrator. If only they could have used that narrator for this book, it would have been perfect!

I could see the need for the long tracts of description of the natural environment (although they were a little lengthy and over the top). I would have preferred a lot more action and events happening, rather than mostly just descriptive prose detailing the natural environment. It reminded me of Jean Auel's Ayla books in that respect, especially the Plains of Passage, where she goes on and on and endlessly describing every hair in the ear of every deer etc .

I have read other books telling stories of mediaeval history, the best of which in my opinion is Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon series, and I found myself wishing fervently that the mediaeval part of this story could have taken a leaf out of her book!

7 people found this helpful

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epic story

like all the other books of this author, this one is spectacularly epic. its a story that stretches throughout the ages. it is full of interest and significant historical events. really enjoyable.

7 people found this helpful

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Wonderful story

Having enjoyed his other books I was looking forward to hearing this. I wasn’t disappointed. Having known the area when I was young it was a pleasure to feel myself taken back there.
At least one of the stories could be adapted to make a television special with suspense love and comedy.

6 people found this helpful

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amazing tale

great story of a set of families over time in the new forest. I won't look at the new forest in the same way again. it's such a beautiful place and the book captured that well. the narration was perfect. I found it flowed better than London in my personal opinion. I loved this book and would probably listen to it again.

4 people found this helpful

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Discover the Forest

This was a delightful and engaging history of the new forest read superbly. I feel I have lived it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 27-07-21

I like Edward Rutherford

Mr. Rutherford seems to be pushing out books as quickly as he can these days. This book is good but compared to his others is just average IMO. Some interesting tidbits but overall it was a bit "bare" of real history and I have become used to that from Mr. Rutherford's books.

The narrator did a fine job, his inflections were appropriate and the timbre of his voice suited the subject matter.