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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.
©2008 Neal Stephenson; (P)2008 Macmillan Audio
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Customer Reviews

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By Josh on 11-10-08

well imagined, absorbing

This book has everything I want in an audiobook: internal consistency, engaging ideas, good narration, and enough length to solidify the impression of being within another world. I wish I could find more like it - Lonesome Dove and Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series come to mind as similarly engaging works. (Suggestions? adhole5(at)yahoo)

Ignore the negative comments about Stephenson's neologisms - they are interesting in themselves and succeed in deepening the sense of a parallel world. Snow Crash was sometimes distracting with its incessant slang but the language here is solidly engaging.

Well worth the two credits.

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30 of 30 people found this review helpful

By Christopher Brandon Barton on 12-15-08

All hail Oralow

I purchased this book as a recommendation from our friends at This Week in Tech. I found that the selection was kind of slow to start, with all of "The Dictionary, 4th edition, AR 3000" references. Once I got into the story line I found myself listening everyday to and from work, on lunch, and even when I laid down to sleep. The characters become very rich in the way that the narrator inflects his voice and describes the scenery. I found that many times I was almost there with the main character "Fra Eraz-mus". I cringed when he was hurt, laughed when he laughed, and felt a certain "kin-ship" with "Fra's Leo, Arcibalt, Oralow", and even the Millinarian, "Fra Jad". I will consider this book a great purchase for a long time to come.

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39 of 40 people found this review helpful

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By Margaret J. on 10-29-15

Searching for decent science fiction

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

By Anonymous Coward on 04-18-16

Really impressed

Storytelling was excellent, characterisation was engaging. The writing was superb. You may have already guessed that I loved it

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Hannah on 06-19-16


What a fascinating world.. I found myself thinking about this book all the time and trying to explain it to people which was quite hard to do! Loved it

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3 of 4 people found this review helpful

By Anonymous User on 11-15-17

A truly wonderful story, well read.

This novel brings together concepts from maths, physics, politics and history, some extremely advanced and even speculative theory, and weaves them into a story that is not just technically amazing, but emotionally compelling.

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