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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley, read by Theo Solomon.

For fans of The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and David Mitchell, a genre-bending, time-twisting alternative history that asks whether it’s worth changing the past to save the future, even if it costs you everyone you’ve ever loved.

Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia. His first memory is of stepping off a train in the 19th-century French colony of England. The only clue Joe has about his identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse that arrives in London the same month he does. Written in illegal English - instead of French - the postcard is signed only with the letter 'M', but Joe is certain whoever wrote it knows him far better than he currently knows himself and he’s determined to find the writer. The search for M, though, will drive Joe from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland and finally onto the battleships of a lost empire’s Royal Navy. In the process, Joe will remake history and himself.

From best-selling author Natasha Pulley, The Kingdoms is an epic, wildly original novel that bends genre as easily as it twists time.

©2021 Natasha Pulley (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Pulley’s latest genre-bending feat (after The Lost Future of Pepperharrow) masterfully combines history, speculative fiction, queer romance and more into an unputdownable whole.... This is a stunner." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Natasha Pulley’s The Kingdoms is an intricate plot, for sure, but you get swept up in the narrative. If this sounds like the type of book you’re drawn to - epic! time travel! history! - you know who you are." (Alma)

What listeners say about The Kingdoms

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story but not the performance needed

I have read all of Natasha Pulley's novels with delight both at the adventurous stories that she weaves and at the high quality and skill of her narrative writing. As other reviewers have said, the Kingdoms has a complex timeline and plot that is entertaining but also challenging to follow and figure out. Because of the various timelines and settings, a performance was needed that had consistent and clearly distinguished voices for the major characters. Theo Solomon makes everyone sound pretty much the same. He has a rasp to his voice that also shows up for all characters and never sounds quite natural but rather stylized. Mr. Solomon manages to make Joe Tournier sound quite whinny in his interactions with the other people he meets along with way. Joe's "why" sounds like that of a spoiled teenager rather than a confused adult. I'm now hoping that the book will be so popular and such a classic that it will get another and stronger performance some year soon.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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I wish I read it rather than listened

I am not sure my problem was with the narrator or the book in general. It was very difficult to follow the timeline via audio. I also found it very hard to differentiate between some of the characters. I liked Theo Solomon as a narrator but it was hard to tell at times just which character was speaking. Ultimately, I wish I had read the book.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not her strongest work but still worth a read

Like the other folks, I do think it could have benefitted from a stronger performance and better character differentiation.

As for the story itself, I didn't really find the timelines super confusing, just wasn't sure about the protagonist's origin. Now, I rated this 4 stars because I do think the story meanders a bit more than it needs to and the characters aren't as focused as other ones she's written. That being said, if you can get through some of the less interesting stuff, I think all the twists loop back around nicely into something that makes sense and lets you see if your guesses about what were going on were right. So that was fun. I didn't think the chemistry was quite as good between the main characters in this one, but they grew on me after a while and things really picked up in the last couple chapters and end with a decent enough conclusion.

I would say this reads more like historical fiction than Sci fi, although it's hard to say it's fully either. And it's DEFINITELY not strictly a romance novel like some folks would have you believe. Oh sure there's the barest romantic plot thread throughout the thing, but it's no more blatant than Watchmaker. I actually feel like it could have been a little more obvious and still been fine. Trust me, I'm the kind of person who gets really bored with romance tropes easily, and it wasn't overly sappy or distracting or anything.

Anyway I mainly just like this story though because it feels like the target audience is the microscopic section of the Venn diagram where the circle of people who like Master and Commander a bit too much overlaps with the circle of people who would have liked Kingdom Hearts to be a lot gayer than it was. And if you also are inside that tiny group it'll scratch an itch for you too.

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Loved this

Agonizing in the best way, much like all of Natasha Pulley’s work. I feel like I was run over by a train, although that makes this book seem more straightforward than it actually is? Twisty, complex and satisfying.

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A journey to remember

This is my favorite of N. Pulley’s books to date. The narrator was easy to listen to and plummeted me immediately into the maelstrom of the plot.

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Another fantastic novel from Natasha Pulley

Another fantastic book from Natasha Pulley!

I’d been looking forward to its release ever since I finished her last novel “The Lost Future of Pepperharrow”.

I highly recommend you listen to all her 4 novels starting with “Bedlam Stacks” - the narrator is fantastic as well.

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Gay romance advertised as fantasy/sci-fi

I wish publishers would stop trying to cross books over from one category to another. This book is a romance novel with gay characters - the fantasy/alt-history is secondary. Just be aware so you can pick a book you will enjoy

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Satisfyingly Mysterious

I am an avid reader but I rarely write a review. This book deserved one and I have to say it was one of the best books I've read in a long time.The characters are engaging and the story interesting but the best part is the underlying mystery of the whole thing! You are never quite sure how all the different "Whens" tie together and I found myself pondering the plot even when not reading. I really enjoyed this book. Great read! I hope Ms. Pulley does more along this line.