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Umberto Eco books are always convoluted and tricky and this book is no exception. I enjoyed the story but the reading was first rate. This probably the best reading I have heard out of the 10+ books I have listened to. He enlivened a story that dragged a little at times. I'm sorry it's over.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I'm a fan of Umberto Eco novels. I definitely enjoyed this one, too. But I do find that the quality of his novels is mixed - there are some that are superb, some that are merely good, but don't live up to the expectations, and there are those that fall somewhere in between. Baudolino falls somewhere in between. I would say that it is the middle third that kind of drags down the total enjoyment of the book. Eco combines historical background and historical characters with fantasy and historically popular fantasy. So we find the sack of Constantinople in 1204, Frederick I and other historical events or characters, legends like those of Prester John, and fantastical conversions of historical characters like Hypatia, all woven together into a story of adventure, love, mystery, and fantasy. The leading characters are wonderfully developed, the human relationships and the problems with relationships and friendships are presented as the complexities that they are. There are moving portions, and the last chapters are a wonderful closing to this story. But the middle third - the journey to find the kingdom of Prester John, in which Baudolino and his comrades come upon all sorts of mythical creatures (and though I didn't check all of them, it appears that Eco did not make up most of these mythical creatures himself, but brilliantly brought them all into his fantasy) - tends to drag. I felt like, OK, we know that it won't end here, in this land with these weird creatures, I get the idea, let's move on with the story. But when it did move on, the total pleasure returned. It helps to know some Christian history, to appreciate the sectarian disputes (at some points I felt like this book is a fantastical version of Diarmaid MacCulloch's "A History of Christianity", and I was loving the connections I could make between the fiction and the history book). And, of course, the presentation of the world of Christian relics can be added to Mark Twain's comments on such relics in Innocents Abroad. But Eco is. More subtle in some ways because he gives some insight into the the thinking of people in such matters. Like all Eco books, to truly appreciate them you need to have some familiarity with the material that he uses to build his stories.
The narrator was excellent.
Overall, I'd recommend this book, but if you are not yet an Eco fan, don't start with this book. Start with The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, and The Prague Cemetery (which is really only for people who will get the satire).
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Baudolino to be better than the print version?
Never read the paper version.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Baudolino?
The psychological musings of the characters and the authenticity of their conversations, fitting the context of a time when much was imagined but very little known, to the common man. This book is great for getting one's imagination working. It is an epic.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
initially facinating, but became tedious.
Unable to finish after 50% heard.
Umberto Eco can be a marvelous writer, but not this time.