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Publisher's Summary

Engaging and fast-paced, this gripping coming-of-age novel of chess, feminism, and addiction speeds to a conclusion as elegant and satisfying as a mate in four.

Eight-year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is, until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. 

By the age of 16, she's competing for the US Open championship. But as Beth hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting.

©2018 Walter Tevis (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Featured Article: The Best Chess Audiobooks


If you've been following popular culture, you know that one of the most popular shows of the last year is The Queen's Gambit, which debuted on Netflix in October of 2020. Adapted from the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, the stylish miniseries starring Anya Taylor-Joy is about the life of fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon. Due to the popularity of the show, the gaming industry saw an unprecedented interest in chess; sales of books about chess and chess boards skyrocketed! Whether you are a theory nerd or hungry for a lesson in the game’s history, these chess-related listens are a great opener.

What listeners say about The Queen's Gambit

Average Customer Ratings
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I can't listen to it.

I can't get through it. I can't listen to a breathy reader. too many drawn-out last words on every sentence.

284 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great book/ horrible narrator

Great book and story. However the narration is terrible. Very hard to listen to. Super slow speech with some characters and seems like shes mocking men and people from Kentucky. Very strange inflections and accents when the men speak. Plus all the accents are the same even tho they are suppose to be russian and mexican. I would reccomend reading it yourself and save your ears from the narrators terrible reading and voices.

229 people found this helpful

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Awful Narrator

I cannot get passed how monotone the narrator is! I tried to listen on but could not.

174 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Narrator ruins great story

Walter Tevis writes a great narrative but “readers” should stick to the written word. Amy Landon is a mediocre narrator but when attempting to do male voice it becomes comical and distracting.

99 people found this helpful

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Hard pass.

The narrator was breathy and flat. I had to increase the speed to 1.25 to make it bearable. The characters were poorly developed and none were likable. The story was plodding and pointless. The dialogue made me cringe and laugh out loud from its absurdity. I kept listening hoping there would be something redeemable based on all the good reviews. There wasn't.

82 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What a look into the game of chess!

Wow, this was like reading a thriller. I was on the edge of my seat when the main character was playing her games. I felt her triumphs and her pain through the games she played, the author was able to provide the a clear idea of the tactics and strategy, enough so that a non-chess expert could participate in the emotional tension he creates. The characters are complex and rich, the plot is remarkably well paced using chess games-not an easy feat.The activity and turmoil of the mind and the glimpse of the fugue state that Beth experiences create excitement and anticipation. The only other novel that I’ve enjoyed this much based on the game of chess is The Luhzin Defense-which again, recreates the drama of the mind pushed to its very limits and potential. Ultimately, through chess in these two novels, i am immersed in the drama of human experience from the particular lens that the game of chess gives. Loved this novel, it’s so good!!

65 people found this helpful

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Just one complaint.

I loved the story but this readers makes all the male characters sound like Barney the Dinosaur.

61 people found this helpful

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Don't Need to be a Chess Fan

Walter Tevis' Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books. Though I listened to it many years ago, it haunts me to this day. This book was a leap of faith. I have no particular interest in chess, however I opted to trust reviewers who claimed it didn't matter. The reviewers were right. Somehow Tevis manages to make the matches riveting without the need to know exactly what's happening on the chess board. The tension is palpable throughout. Perhaps this is partly because the matches are largely about the clash of the personalities involved. Add to this the fascinating story of the protagonist's upbringing and the ever lurking shadow of the orphanage's method to maintain tranquility.

I didn't notice any reviews by a chess enthusiast who might verify one way or the other: are the moves described the actual ones prescribed by the named techniques, i.e. the Queen's Gambit? Not that it mattered to me, I'm just curious.

52 people found this helpful

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Kinda rough

Narrator has the incorrect inflection. Sounds like they are fighting the natural pace of sentence ms.

50 people found this helpful

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The Netflix Series is good

But I think I enjoyed listening to the novel more. Sparked me to get out our chess set and play during the pandemic, too.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-05-20

Computer voice.

The book is great. The narrator sounds like Siri or even worse a computer voice. Truly awful.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-23-20

Like listening to Siri

Without a doubt the worst narrator I’ve have the displeasure of listening to. Like listening to a cross between Siri and a sat nav. Got through about 30 minutes, returned and credit restored.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • D. Angeletti
  • 11-25-20

Amazing book spoiled by an awful reading

This is an amazing book. It has always been. Unfortunately the voice is horrendous. The reader must have some issues with male characters. Why the need of using these mocking grunts when male characters speak is beyond human conception. Can't she just use a normal voice? Not all men speak like dehumanised zombie.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Watson
  • 02-02-21

The reader deserves much more credit!

As others have already written, the story is so engaging with brilliant characters. However I wanted to also praise the reader who I feel has been unfairly criticised in many reviews.

Yes, the delivery is flat but, to me at least, that is the whole point. The story is told from the point of view of Beth who is an emotionally cold and calculating person often strung out on tranquillisers so the trance-like delivery of the reader reflects this. The worlds Beth inhabits, first at the orphanage and then within the hotels and conference rooms where the chess tournaments are held are faceless, sterile environments and the narration captures this perfectly.

The majority of the characters are also fairly distant and reserved but if you listen carefully, the reader injects more emotion when delivering the words spoken by the one truly warm character, Beth's friend Joelene.

Whilst admittedly it does take some getting used to, in my opinion, the narration is a perfect fit to a wonderful book. So please don't let other negative reviews of the reader put you off.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Malgorzata New
  • 11-25-20

Narrator is horrendous

The narrating is awful sounds like computer generated voice I’d rather Alexa read it. Waste of money

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-16-20

Lovely book, horrible listen

Really enjoyed the book, but the woman performing it bugged me to the point where I could hardly finish it.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MR LEWIS-GEORGE NASH
  • 06-27-20

A lot better than I expected.

I always wanted to read this story as the title and chess interest me somewhat. I didn't expected that much from it. I was delightfully surprised. The story is a lot deeper than I first imagined it would be and the characters were alright. The main character was really good and I found her story enjoyable and believable. The chess was very interesting and Tevis kept it dramatic and never boring.
Great book.
I thought the narrator added greatly to the feeling of the story and she added a richness to it. I was impressed and would listen to more read by Amy.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kaitie
  • 03-04-21

Excellent! I want to improve at chess!

An excellent story. There are a couple of minor unresolved plot threads, but that's okay and the reader can imagine it however they please. The vast majority of the story resolves in a thoroughly pleasing and tight way, and I was impressed by the author's craft.
I did not expect the story to make me cry, given how cold and analytical the protagonist is, but it certainly caught me off guard at one point.
It was nice that the protagonist feels human. She makes mistakes, commits minor crimes, or makes poor life choices and the plot doesn't punish her for it which I find refreshing.

The performance was wonderful and fit the character perfectly. My only criticism is that the narrator needs to practice some of her foreign accents.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cliente Amazon
  • 12-24-20

Good story, not so good narrator.

I really liked this audiobook, because of the story. I have, however, to agree with other reviewers in saying that the narrator sounded a bit computer-ish, an odd mixture between Siri and Alexa. I only kept listening because I the story kept me there, would it have been for the narrator alone, I would have dropped it after a chapter.

1 person found this helpful

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  • P. A. Barrow
  • 11-29-21

Excellent.

Once you get use to the narrators almost automated reading voice, you start to lose yourself in the story. Thoroughly enjoyable and a must for any chess player. (or none players:-)

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  • Tenille Chapman
  • 12-07-20

Terrible narration, couldn't finish

Great story but terrible narration. The male characters (almost all of them) sound ridiculous. I couldn't get past the first chapter.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Karen Skillington
  • 12-19-20

Immersive story with enjoyable narration

I liked the engaging story of an oppressed, intelligent, young female who faced many difficulties and embarrassing moments. She mostly conquered with superior intelligence and sheer hard work. I read a previous review that criticised the reader, Amy Landon. However, for me, the criticism was not warranted and I enjoyed the narration immensely. There’s not much to not like about this book, although the male reader may not appreciate the nuanced story line. Now that I have heard the book and visualised the story, I’m looking forward to seeing it played out in screen.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-07-20

a fascinating world

loved this story, found it a very addictive listen thanks to the intrigue and how deep Beth had to dig.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-08-21

Loved this story and narration

Loved this story and performance, I laughed and cried. beautifully read and engaging to the end.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • kamalesh
  • 08-07-21

get kindle version not audible

while the story was interesting, the narrator put the emphasis on the last word of every sentence, usually quite inappropriately and, for me, very irritating. she even put the emphasis also on 'her' in the middle of the sentence as well, again inappropriately.
If I hadn't bought the audible I would have bought the kindle version, and had to struggle to complete the audible.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David Gowers
  • 02-04-21

Horrible narration

I loved the show, so I'm sure there's really good story in here somewhere, but I couldn't hear it past the narrator's terrible performance. All her male voices sounded like the kind of voices kids do when they're pretending to be rich people but just end up sounding dopey. A real shame, this.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Melissa
  • 01-30-21

Loved it

Great story and reading , Beth was such a well developed character . Definitely happy with this purchase

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer2
  • 01-24-21

Good story, crap narrating.

Awful narration in sing song repeatedly high to low sentence sound as well as unpleasant low "male" voices by blowing air out via pharynx into "blownup" mouth. Really unpleasant and once noticed, can't unnotice.
Its a shame because the story is interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lucyboyd1
  • 01-21-21

Awful narration

I loved the Netflix series and I’m sure this is a great book but I couldn’t handle the narration. The narration is flat, breathy and overall annoying. Really hope another version is released!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Babs59
  • 11-30-20

unexpectedly enthralling

Although the lead character was not particularly likeable a lot of the time she came across as genuine albeit obsessed and self absorbed. Mostly I wanted her to reach her goals but occasionally I found her behaviour off-putting enough that I didn't really care! But I kept going and the ending seemed just about right. I didn't enjoy the narrator, sorry.

2 people found this helpful