• by Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, Neal Stephenson
  • 32 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Fraa Erasmus is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the "Saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities, and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs, bloody violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet always the avout have managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. Erasmus, however, has no fear of the outside - the Extramuros - for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in.During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.Powerful unforeseen forces threaten the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros - a threat that only an unsteady alliance of Saecular and avout can oppose - as, one by one, Raz's colleagues, teachers, and friends are all called forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a worlds-shattering responsibility, Erasmus finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of everything - as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of an unfamiliar planet...and far beyond.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Big Disappointment

I am a big fan of Neal Stephenson. Anathem is a big disappointment. I listened for two hours before giving up. The story and language are so obscure that it is nearly impossible to maintain any interest in it. I have a library of over 500 Audible books. I have stopped listening to only two or three after starting one.
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- David


I think I've listened to this book a hundred times. It's VERY long and some parts are a little slow but it's very entertaining overall. The narration is very good and can keep me interested even when the plot does dip a little bit.

This story has a very interesting take on the history of an Earth-like planet regarding the relationship between science and religion (and politics to some extent). There's an interesting mixture of fantastic technology with ancient ritual. The logical debates / conversations are some high points in the story telling.. There is just enough detail and explanation to keep things interesting without bringing things to a halt. Several characters were developed well enough to make me really care what happened to them, which is rare for me.

The end gets a little crazy and some friends have said it's a bit too much, but i didn't mind.

Be forewarned that the history style timeline layout at the front of the book is fairly long and VERY boring to listen to. You have no idea what the events are that are being described. I think it would be safe to skip it and then listen to it later after you get a feel for the world in which the story takes place.

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- Joe

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-25-2008
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio