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worried book would feel "dated" but it didn't. once in the story could not put it down. the narrator at first I wondered about but he is a skillful reader and I didn't need to worry. loved the book when it came out and loved the audible now. highly recommend.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This great book is finally available again in print as well as on Kindle and as an Audiobook from Audible.com. Thirty-six years after I first read it, you can buy it again. Now that I’ve listened to it for the first time (as opposed to reading it), it is not only as good as I remember. It is better.
The Far Arena is classified as science fiction, but not in the traditional sense. It doesn’t fall into any genre except perhaps speculative fiction, which is a catch-all term for all the books that can’t be otherwise categorized. Time travel? Sort of, although the only “mechanism” is time itself.
The story in brief: A Roman gladiator is flash frozen in the arctic ice. He is accidentally discovered by a team drilling for oil not far from the arctic. He is subsequently defrosted and brought back to life. What follows is his story as a Roman married to a Hebrew slave, and his perceptions of our modern world from the point of view of a man whose world disappeared 2000 years earlier.
For example, while in the hospital, he asks about the slaves who serve him. He is referring to the to nurses and other workers who attend to his needs. His new friends explain that they aren’t slaves, that they work for wages and are free to leave, or be dismissed by their employers. He thinks this is a fantastic idea.
“You mean they do everything you tell them to do, but when they get old and can no longer work, you don’t have to take care of them? What a great idea! Slaves without responsibility.”
“They aren’t slaves,” insist his modern friends.
“They are treated like slaves, they act like slaves. They are slaves,” he responds.
That is paraphrasing, of course, but it’s the spirit of the dialogue. This isn’t a quick piece of dialogue in a long book about “other things.” The discussion of “what is slavery” is an underlying theme throughout the book along with “the corruption of giant corporations” which apparently has not noticeably changed between the days of the Roman Empire and today.
Although I had read the book several times, I had never listened to it. I wasn’t intending to listen to the whole thing. I just wanted a little taste. I have a giant heap of books I have promised to read and I thought “I’ll give a little listen” and come back to finish it when I have more time.
I had forgotten how good the book really is. It has been a long time since I picked up a book and was sucked in from the first paragraph until the very end … and was still wishing there would be more. It gave me a sharp pang, realizing how few really great books I read these days. How many are touted as great, but reading them, they are no better than ordinary and often far less.
Not only was Richard Ben Sapir a brilliant writer, but Peter Noble is a terrific narrator. He handles dialects with ease and give the book the intensity it deserves. Never over the top, never too dramatic, he is as perfect as a narrator could be. And considering how much I love the book, I’m surprised to find myself saying it.
I had a lot of trouble not restarting the book from the beginning and giving it a round 2, just in case I missed a paragraph somewhere. What is really eerie is how the main character, drawn into modern times following 2000 years of cryogenic sleep, understands this world better than the people he meets in 20th century Europe.
The man from Rome understands corruption. He understands slavery, whatever we choose to call it. He knows that the rich and powerful will never support the poor and will always do what is to their benefit.
It is a level of cynicism which sharply focuses the lens of 2017.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Far Arena the most enjoyable?
I first read this book over thirty years ago, and have re-read it several times since: it is one of those books that stays with you. It is a little uneven in pace and parts may be questionable, but it is nevertheless still a good story ... listening to it rather than reading it actually succeeded in evening out some of the pace issues, and the narration was, I thought, excellent. I hadn't really thought much about the characters' accents when reading it, but the narrator captured them brilliantly and the whole thing came more alive for me than when on the printed page.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I obviously liked the synopsis otherwise I would not have downloaded this book. But after listening for sometime I found it quite bewildering and only wished I could have returned it, but as I had recently returned my last choice I ploughed on. I will let others decide for themselves as we each have our individual taste and whilst it may appeal to one listener it may not to another.
The story content started well enough, but then became inconsistent with the 21st century conversation the author gave to the lead character, (those who listen will understand what I refer to), which for me ruined the entire audio.
I dislike giving a negative review as I prefer constructive criticism, but I really feel aggrieved that I have wasted a precious credit on such a silly theme. Perhaps others will find the deep meaning the author intended, hidden in the content.
The narrator did a terrific job with pronunciation as he attempted to make a very strange story interesting.
Sadly not my cup of tea!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful