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The Second Sleep

Written by: Robert Harris
Narrated by: Roy McMillan
Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The latest novel from Robert Harris: chosen as a Book of the Year by The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, and Express.

What if your future lies in the past?

Dusk is gathering as a young priest, Christopher Fairfax, rides across a silent land.

It’s a crime to be out after dark and Fairfax knows he must arrive at his destination – a remote village in the wilds of Exmoor – before night falls and curfew is imposed.

He’s lost and he’s becoming anxious as he slowly picks his way across a countryside strewn with the ancient artefacts of a civilisation that seems to have ended in cataclysm.

What Fairfax cannot know is that, in the days and weeks to come, everything he believes in will be tested to destruction, as he uncovers a secret that is as dangerous as it is terrifying....

©2019 Robert Harris (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"One word: wonderful. Two words: compulsive [listening]. Three words: buy it tomorrow. Four words: tonight, if possible." (Stephen King)

"A thoroughly absorbing...narrative." (Sunday Times)

"Genuinely thrilling." (Daily Telegraph)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Son of Thor's whimper
  • 16-09-19

Dark, so dark, so well concocted

Read it any review spoils it The best since Fatherland Kicks one's mind and crushes ones hart, making Pandora's box completely empty

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tim Martin
  • 14-05-20

Good, but wanting

On the back of Harris' brilliant Cicero Trilogy my expectation for The Second Sleep was for more cool shine. There were some food-for-thought moments - in particular, a clever background timeline encompassing fall of Empire, a subsequent Dark Age (Church intellectual dominance), and a green-shoots Age of Reason exemplified by a rebel priest. But I never bought into the characters - as individuals or an ensemble. Weak characterisations are a deal-breaker for me, strong storyline or not.

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  • Sylla
  • 01-05-20

Highly recommended

When one combines the wizardry if Harris’ narrative genius with an excellent narrator one is left with an addictive 9 hours of delight. I could not stop listening. A thrilling story full of surprises to the very end.

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  • Ben Vella
  • 12-04-20

Interesting concept....

Not having read what this book was about, I enjoyed the twist as it seemed of a time past that was actually the future. That was about the best part. The rest was the slow thrills of an archeological dig.

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  • Emily
  • 21-10-19

The less you know, the better this journey will be

Robert Harris is a phenomenal writer, and The Second Sleep is no exception. This is a gripping, thought-provoking novel that unfolds moment by moment, almost like a slow burn. There are points where things occur which put everything into context as the mysteries unravel, and they leave you feeling startled as well as delighted as you begin to understand just what's happened, and what's happening.

I think that it's best to know very little about this novel, so you can fully experience the carefully crafted moments of revelation, so I'll not say anything about the plot, apart from saying that the characters are well-imagined, the setting is interesting and engaging, and the pacing is masterful. Roy McMillan reads the novel with skill and style, voicing the characters well and giving a real sense of personality to each of them.

If you enjoyed Harris' historical novels, you'll enjoy The Second Sleep. Highly recommended.

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  • Simon
  • 23-09-19

Engaging and (almost) believable

A post apocalyptic world that’s similar to the dark ages. Throw in a murder mystery and have Robert Harris write it. Nearly perfect.

No spoilers but to say there a few points where it lets itself down but certainly well worth a listen.

Reminds me very much of Pullman’s His Dark Materials stories.

Excellent narration.

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  • Seayeaitch
  • 06-09-19

Something different that will make you think...

This story is quite different from Robert Harris and adds another dimension to the Master story tellers range. The narration delivered by Roy McMillan is absolutely superb, he conjures up the mood and pace and establishes Christopher Fairfax as a character that we need to hear from in the future.
A beautifully written story that will make the reader or listener think about the world and the way that we are all evolving.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-19

appeal for a considerd eanding

enjoyable but audible please allow the reader a brief pause at the end to savour the moment before rabbiting on with with the legal crap and hard sell

30 people found this helpful

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  • Jane Cooper
  • 05-09-19

Loved this book.

This was not at all what I expected but I absolutely loved it, could not stop listening. It is a book that I will remember and think about for a long while, a message for our times?!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Banjoman
  • 07-09-19

Thought provoking novel.

The Second Sleep is an unconventional historical novel. Set in the year 1468 in Wessex, it tells the story of a priest sent on a simple task to perform a funeral in a remote Exmoor village.
But all is not as it seems in this mystery.
A well written book, with superb narration from Roy McMillan. But I feel the plot lacking substance and direction, - maybe this was deliberate. A thought provoking novel indeed, it asks questions of what we see as history, knowledge, civilisation, and the future...

8 people found this helpful

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  • Toby
  • 30-08-19

Engaging Story, tepid end

An engaging and original story, loses its way at the end for an unsatisfactory conclusion

15 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs. Amanda Hann
  • 19-10-19

The second sleep

Very easy to listen to great performances by all
Look forward to the next book

5 people found this helpful

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  • Heisenberg
  • 08-09-19

Interesting idea, that doesn't quite deliver.

I purchased this after seeing Harris being interviewed and finding the concept intriguing. While I did enjoy the story, and it was certainly well narrated, I felt it didn't quite follow through on its promise. It seemed to gradually run out of steam, and the ending felt rushed and a little anti-climactic.

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  • Ms. S. J. McReynolds
  • 07-09-19

Typical Harris- a well-researched page turner

Whatever this author chooses as a subject it is invariably a well-researched and always a gripping read. The denouement seemed a little rushed however, with an almost deus ex machina finish.

5 people found this helpful

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  • EGBOK
  • 05-01-20

His Best yet

Having read almost all of Harris' previous work I admit to being a follower. Some were excellent and one or two were hard work ie. too statistical for me! Fortunately with Second Sleep I was stuck on a long drive to the South of France so was committed to listening as I drove down to the ferry at Portsmouth. I thought I knew which way the story was unfolding, so nearly drove off the road when without warning it changed direction. The story is so enthralling, and captivating, that most of my family and friends have now listened to or read it.
I fear that there are more books in the series to come because there were some major loose ends at the end. But, I doubt that I will read a better book in 2020.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Simon Zohhadi
  • 26-08-19

Is Robert Harris On The Decline ?

An enjoyable read but like its predecessor Munich (released in 1917), Robert Harris’s latest novel - The Second Sleep - falls short of the author’s highest standards. Both novels are worthwhile but there is a feeling that the author is going through the motions. The storyline, briefly, is about a priest assigned to a small village in Wessex where a mysterious past is unravelled, following a time shifting apocalypse. Compared to other novels like Lamentation and The Name Of The Rose, this novel is found wanting. Not bad but not a classic.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-10-19

Entertaining listen

Harris can always keep a story moving, accelerating from a slow start to a feverish conclusion. Compared to Harris’ best it feels like a less fully realised world. At times it felt a little thin. Without the historical quirks of say, Archangelsk, it veers close to Young Adult fiction. Nevertheless I enjoyed it and it kept me listening hours at a time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-09-19

A gobsmacking tale

This audiobook was mesmerising.I dare not write a word of it’s content lest I spoil the awe I felt at it’s unfolding for others. Robert Harris, I loved it sir, Bravo! Roy McMillan, you read it magnificently. Thank you both. I recommend it wholeheartedly, I am definitely getting a hard copy.

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  • A Descendant of Scotsmen
  • 22-04-20

A mystery within a mystery...

I was enjoying this historical tale when it went in a direction I was not expecting and which turned out to be thought provoking indeed. Bloody well done, and well read by Roy McMillan.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-10-19

Enthralling story read and listened to

I tested reading and listening to the novel simultaneously. Quite a fabulous and an engulfing experience to dive into a dystopian version of the Name of The Rose by Umberto Ecco.