• by Keith Roberts
  • Narrated by Steven Crossley
  • 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)
Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrator and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
A few words from Neil on Pavane: "When Old Earth Books told me they are reissuing Pavane, which was originally published in 1968, I told them: 'I read one story from Pavane when I was nine, and it scarred me…. I read the whole book as a teenager and learned where that story had come from, and the shape of the whole story and I felt the scars heal….' Pavane was Keith Roberts' masterpiece: profound and still remarkable."
Considered Keith Roberts' masterwork, this novel consists of linked short stories (six measures and a coda) of a 20th century in which the Roman Catholic Church controls the Western world, and has done so since Queen Elizabeth of England was assassinated in 1588. The Protestant Reformation never happened, and the world is kept in a Dark Age of steam-power transportation, with no allowance for electrical power, by a tyrannical Rome. Pavane shows the harshness of life in this society and details the generational struggle for independence by the citizens of Dorset, England. It's through this series of moving tales that Roberts interweaves a discussion of Destiny and History that take the book out of the ordinary. And the author's great love of his native country makes this the most English of novels, and one of the finest in fantastic literature.


What the Critics Say

"Roberts's vivid depiction of the day-to-day lives of the common folk gives these stories a tangible reality. Steven Crossley's gentle voice, embedded with a regional accent, enhances the characters and places them solidly in their milieu." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

It's the Characters that Outline the World

Neil Gaiman Presents, and George R.R. Martin praises it right on the cover. Two powerhouse names like that can't be wrong when they stand in agreement, and it's that very reason I selected this book. These are names I trust.

This is an older novel and reads like one, but that's certainly no turn-off. What's a bit jarring is the format and presentation. A Pavane is a style of music, and the format was presented in here in literary form as 6 movements and a coda. The basic idea is that this is an alternate history where Queen Elizabeth I was assassinated, and in the mid-20th century, the Roman Catholic Church is still in supreme dominance as a result of having killed the Reformation. It's a steampunk styled world ruled by superstition and fear, but far more authentic feeling than most steampunk. It feels less like fantasy and more like a legitimate alternate reality. Sounds epic, right? Yes and no. You don't get an epic here. What you get is a personal account. Each of the stories contained here link one to the next through the eyes of the characters. Instead of a big worldview epoch, you get a human quality to the world as these people see it - what it's like to live in this world from within a few different walks of life, with the same emotions, strengths, and frailties that people are prone to have in our world as well. It's a master class in characterization. As a result, it burns slow, but it burns evenly, as surely as a higher quality candle. It doesn't illuminate the entire world, but it does illuminate the corners of it we visit through these characters, and it casts larger shadows of suggestion into that world. It definitely leaves you wanting more. More's the pity that there is no more save for what we take from the suggestive nature of asking the two most powerful words in the English language: "What if...?"
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- Troy

Dense & rich - not a light listen

I knew in the first 10 minutes of this recording that I would not be able to do anything requiring multi-tasking while listening. The story is so deep and so full of the facts of this alternate universe, that it needs full attention.

It is written as though the author didn't just consider the surface change of this non-reformation world, but the skeleton and tissue of it's history - each of the separate stories centers on how the characters would live and react in a world dominated and restricted by the one and only church. The reader does a superb job of conveying the feel of this world and its characters. Overall it is a dark world, but ends on a message of hope and the alternative world feels solid and real.
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- Betty

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-25-2011
  • Publisher: Neil Gaiman Presents