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Download The Habitation of the Blessed: A Dirge for Prester John, Volume One Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Habitation of the Blessed: A Dirge for Prester John, Volume One (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Catherynne M. Valente
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (456 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Catherynne M. Valente Narrator: Ralph Lister Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2010 ISBN:
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This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, 12th-century document that captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings for centuries. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?

Brother Hiob of Luzerne, on missionary work in the Himalayan wilderness on the eve of the 18th century, discovers a village guarding a miraculous tree whose branches sprout books instead of fruit. These strange books chronicle the history of the kingdom of Prester John, and Hiob becomes obsessed with the tales they tell. The Habitation of the Blessed recounts the fragmented narratives found within these living volumes, revealing the life of a priest named John, and his rise to power in this country of impossible richness. John's tale weaves together with the confessions of his wife Hagia, a blemmye - a headless creature who carried her face on her chest - as well as the tender, jeweled nursery stories of Imtithal, nanny to the royal family.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 2/19/2014

    " As usual Valente does a good job of creating a bizarre and yet very real universe. This book continued in her trend of beautiful but visceral phrasing and she makes it come alive. The twisting of the story and the empty spaces were compelling and I finished feeling unsatisfied but in an okay way? I felt like some of the religious connections in this were a little stretched, unfortunately, but not impossible to follow. That could also be my religious background subconsciously being repelled, as well, though, so take it with a grain of salt. Overall, it was a good read and I'm sure I'll eventually get to the books that follow in the series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/28/2014

    " a feast for the senses. read someone else's review--i can't do the book justice. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 1/27/2014

    " It took me a bit longer than usual to read this. It's hard to see the words come to life when there's a noisy racket going on - but it was very lovely, and makes me want to look into the history of Prester John myself. Valente's writing is lyrical, and I honestly can't wait to read more of her work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeremy Preacher | 1/24/2014

    " When I was a kid, the library had a set of books of mythology from various countries. They were small and mysterious and smelled good, and I have mostly forgotten their contents but I remember where they were on the shelf and how excited I was to go get another one. Valente has written a book that pulls in all of those vaguely remembered remarkable characters and weaves them in with sex, religion, gender, and cultural politics to make something that smells just like those old, beloved volumes and fits in the same place in my head. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eileen | 1/19/2014

    " Sigh .. this book was so good, and now I can't wait for the next one. Why is Catherynne Valente not winning major awards?! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 T | 1/11/2014

    " Valente's writings always throw me off balance for a while after I read them. While her prose was, as always, evocative and imaginative, I lost interest after a while. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Art | 12/17/2013

    " This is a magical realism book. Fascinating, darker than I would have liked, but the writing is beautiful and the story fascinating. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Karen | 12/16/2013

    " I just could not get into this book. After 75 pages I gave up. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna Wiggins | 9/20/2013

    " Three stars on the imagery and writing alone, because Valente has a way with both. But something about this one just isn't hooking me. Had to give it up. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Josiah | 5/29/2013

    " Too uneven for my tastes. Some parts were really interesting, but not worth putting up with the unnecessary confusion and discursive narrative in between. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlotte | 5/7/2013

    " Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, but so, so worth it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Krystal Mccoy | 3/7/2013

    " This book was really hard for me to follow... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gobasso | 1/14/2013

    " Weird and wonderful. Well written. I look forward to continuing this series. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bridgett | 11/20/2012

    " The tale of Prester John's journey to a strange society very different from our own, where the fountain of youth is located, and where John searches for Thomas the Apostle. The story is told from several perspectives and several writings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 8/12/2012

    " Rich, decadent prose filled with lush descriptions of things magical and mundane. I loved it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tessa Eger | 2/19/2012

    " DNF. Couldn't make sense out of it, didn't want to either. Too strange in a hard-to-decipher way, not like Le Guin or some others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/11/2012

    " Simply incredible. Valente has created an original blend of moving prose, surreal fantasy, and religious adventure. Her mythological sorcery is enhanced by some very profound writing. She is an instant favorite. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Betty | 12/23/2011

    " Difficult to start because it's hard to figure out where the book is heading. Once that hump is overcome, it poses a somewhat interesting if mildly irreverent story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 aboxofcereal | 12/10/2011

    " My least favorite book by Catherynne M. Valente. Still, I'd give it four stars (though really, more like 3.5). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chloe | 5/22/2011

    " Ok I really tried to like this book but it's just not for me. The language is way too stilted. Since I didn't complete it I'd feel guilty giving it less than 3 stars, but based on my taste, this one just doesn't fit in. Ugh. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 lamesalmon | 2/26/2011

    " If "spoiler" = any description of the settings, characters, or themes, this review contains spoilers. No discussion of major plot points, though:

    [spoilers removed] "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Keith | 2/10/2011

    " I never became fully immersed in John's version of Wonderland. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 2/9/2011

    " A habitual reader of fantasy might take this book in stride, but not me. I thought it was completely nuts in the best way possible--challenging and weird and wonderful "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brittany | 1/9/2011

    " Every book, every poem, every short story of her's reminds me how I am so thankful for the gift of Valente's words. This amazing book was no exception, I can't wait for the next volume. "

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About the Author
Author Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is an acclaimed author of fantasy and science fiction novels, short stories, and poetry. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, World Fantasy Award, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. She made her children’s book debut with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

About the Narrator

Ralph Lister is an actor, voice talent, and winner of three AudioFile Earphones Awards. He spent fifteen years in London theater before moving to the United States to focus on film and television. He has held numerous roles in Shakespearean and modern dramas, as well as starring roles in independent films. His voice and character work can be heard in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and 13 Going On 30.