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Middlegame

Narrated by: Amber Benson
Length: 17 hrs and 30 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A Locus Award Finalist!

This program is read by Amber Benson.

New York Times best-selling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces listeners to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the stand-alone fantasy, Middlegame.

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realize it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: To raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

©2019 Seanan McGuire (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

2019 NPR Best Book of the Year
2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year
2020 Hugo Award Nominee
2020 Locus Awards Nominee

What listeners say about Middlegame

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interwoven and intriguing

A fascinating book about a twin brother and sister, one is drawn to language, one drawn to numbers. They are separated at birth but have a psychic type connection to each other, and kind of fill in the blanks for each other. It could be described as sci-fi with a smattering of alchemy and fairytale themes set in the modern world. It's fantastic, interwoven and rich, and so so good. A book that will stay with me and circle in my mind for a long, long time.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great story. Didn't enjoy the narration.

I enjoyed the story but was continually drawn out of it by the narrator's inflections. Everything sounded kind of sarcastic and insincere the way it was spoken- it worked for the villains but less so for the main characters.

2 people found this helpful

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Great story but I struggled with the narration

The story is brilliantly written and leaves you questioning reality and dejavu. Struggled with the narration in particular with Lee's voice.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Amy Ferrantino
  • Amy Ferrantino
  • 22-05-2019

Couldn't Finish

I was really excited about this book. I didn't read reviews or play the sample, I was that sure I would love it. I love Seanan McGuire's work. "Every Heart A Doorway" may be in my top 10 Best Ever. The story seems like it will be good and I will definitely pick up a copy of the book or e-book. I just couldn't get past the narrator. I appreciate an effort to make each character sound different, but this was over the top. It was the kind of voices you would use when reading to a child. And weird accent choices, too. A character from Cambridge, Mass sounded like he'd been hanging out on the Jersey Shore most of his life. I can see how some people may like this style, but it wasn't for me. If you prefer a subtler narrator, avoid this book.

36 people found this helpful

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  • HappyMom
  • 17-06-2019

Mind melting goodness

20 minutes in I was ready to turn it off and sigh for the loss of a credit. I persevered because I'm a huge fan of Seanan McGuire's other books and really wanted to give this a chance. I'm so GLAD I kept listening. The story is complex and tightly woven. This isn't brain candy...you must pay attention to the details. No zoning out and hoping to jump back in at any point and be able to follow along. There were a couple times I thought it might actually be better on paper due to the complexity of the story and the large number of quotes the author utilized. However once you get used to the format it's easy to get. The story is unique and interesting, the characters are real and flawed and perfect. I was hesitant of Amber Benson as narrator...I love her, but I was worried I would only hear Tara (her Buffy the Vampire Slayer role.) I needn't have worried, she narrates this story beautifully, her characters all have strong easily differentiated voices and agree captured all the emotions and nuances flawlessly. I am hugely impressed with her range! This wasn't quite a 5 star story for me only because I love the authors other works so much and this story didn't quite hit their level of awesome...but came very close!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Luisa
  • 18-05-2019

Beautiful Sci-fi fairy tale

I'm a fan of the writer, and this is up there with her very best work. So unique and lovely, so enthralling. Not for you if you need every single thing to make sense, this book will take you down the improbable road to the impossible city, and if you go with child-like wonder, you will not be sorry.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Eric Lance
  • 15-05-2019

Knocked it out of the park!

Simply amazing! I took a chance on this book and loved every minute. The story was excellent and the narration matched it. My only regret is that i finished it and don't have more to immediately jump into! Time for a second listen, I suppose.

10 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 18-08-2019

Mixed

There was some fun in this novel. The narrator did some things very well. However, to my taste she went too over the top with the speech of the main villains. As for the story, I felt that the two main characters could have been a lot more plausible as math and linguistic geniuses—even a little bit of math (or chess) knowledge is going to have you wincing here and there. Despite this, I found these characters appealing enough to persist.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Billeog
  • 07-02-2020

Disappointing Narration

I read other reviews that mentioned they were particularly annoyed with the way this audiobook was narrated...and I didn’t quite believe them. I listened to the sample and all seemed fine. Yet, now that I’ve listened to half of the book, I think other reviews are right. The over the top, melodramatic and demeaning manner that some characters are cast really ruins the story at times....making it all feel more like a “Lemony Snicket” concept than the novel it is....or could be. I don’t recommend this recording.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 27-08-2019

Needs another narrator.

Great story and much of the narration was okay or good but some of it was so awful it took me right out of the story. She was trying too hard when voicing the antagonists. Considering the number of great narrators out there somebody didn't do their homework.

3 people found this helpful

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  • gk
  • 05-08-2019

Mediocore at best

The story is uninteresting. The character development is weak. The use of match and equations in most places is just absurd.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jack Q. W. Cantwell
  • 19-09-2019

Good story, only okay narration

I enjoyed this book, especially Roger and Dodger. The narrator was at her best doing their voices and thoughts, and at her worst doing the antagonists, Reed and Lee, who are one dimensional in any case. It's not McGuire's best, but it was enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sandy M
  • 15-06-2019

Wow, My Head Hurts

I’m in about an hour and a half, and taking a break. Will try again tomorrow by slowing down the narration. Hopefully that will help. *** Didn't help slowing down narration. Can not finish

8 people found this helpful

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  • R
  • 03-08-2019

Seanan McGuire doesn’t disappoint

Absolutely amazing! I don’t typically go for books over 500 pages as I always end up losing interest and lack the patience to finish them. However, this gripped me right until the very end. The narrator could have made some deferent choices for the voices of some characters as it was a little annoying at times. Other than that, I can’t recommend this book enough!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Maria Elmvang
  • 13-06-2019

Seanan McGuire doesn't disappoint

A bit slow to start, and I had to listen to the first bit twice as my mind kept wandering, but once I got past that, and we got to meet Doger and Roger as kids, I was hooked. I wish we had got to see more of them being happy together though. I realize conflict was needed to set the plot in motion, but still. I really loved how they interacted, and loved seeing them together, propping each other up, supporting each other and behaving like the siblings they didn't know they were. I hope they got to enjoy more of that, after the book finished. It's not my favourite Seanan McGuire, but I did end up loving it. And it's a stand-alone novel, which is rare. I mostly enjoyed the narrator. She made some weird choices when voicing Lee and James, but it was fine, once I got used to it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jordan Robin
  • 07-09-2020

Why are there no half star ratings ??

I think this book is best read without knowing much about it. It is a bit confusing at the beginning but the way this book wraps up was so amazing and I loved it so much. Only critic would be there was some kind of epilog missing... I just wanted to know how thy lived after everything. Also the writing was super beautiful. 4.5

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  • K G L T
  • 18-08-2020

Compelling story

It was confusing in the beginning, especially in audiobook format. But once the story had a bit more plot, it was hard to put down. I might try to find an actual copy and read this again. I personally didn't enjoy the narrator's different voices, but i liked the story enough to want to finish the book.

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  • Mr James Saunders
  • 04-08-2020

Brilliant Characters

Thought the protagonists in this story were fantastic. They really kept me engaged with the story and made it truly intriguing to see where they would go next. My only real criticism of this book is that the ending feels quite rushed and not as well thought out as the rest of the book. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and would easily recommend it to anyone.

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  • Stevan
  • 10-06-2020

you'll like it.

it's a fun narrative and the characters are done well. I really enjoyed it.

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  • m560
  • 17-05-2020

Don't buy the audiobook, buy e-book or paperback

First of all the story is a 3.5/5 for me, but the audiobook only deserves a 2/5. Why you ask? Firstly the quality is such that it can only be played at 1x speed or the narrator begins to sound like a tin man. As I like to listen a bit faster at 1.15-1.2, this restriction made it so I couldn't listen to the book how I wanted to. Secondly I detest some of the voices the narrator does. Reed, according to the books, sounds like an older professor who grades fairly, someone you can trust, but the narrator gave him a voice that drips in 'I am a villain' juice. Also some female voices sound like they're feral cats, which is sometimes warranted, and sometimes not so much. I do like the voices she gave to Roger and especially Dodger, and the overall narration voice. Now the content of the book itself. The start of the book was very slow and pretentious. I wanted to DNF after 2 chapters. But I persisted. Then when I was halfway through the book I wanted to DNF again. I even researched how to return a book on Audible. The story felt slow and like it wasn't going anywhere. I put it aside for a week, but decided I was already too attached to Roger and Dodger to leave them. So once again I picked it back up. And I'm kind of glad I did. Everything really seemed to come together in the last few hours of the story. Every little thing seemed to make sense. I still can't give it full marks as the first half of the book was so slow and hard to get through, but I got what I was looking for out of this book. A unique story with well built main characters, and a bit of magic.

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  • Alice
  • 14-05-2020

Great story with good narration

Found the voice of the narrator quite irritating and my husband mocked it endlessly. But I really enjoyed the book and the way the voices distinguished characters was very good.

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  • Emily Christmas
  • 19-04-2020

Like falling down the rabbit hole

Or getting sucked up by a tornado. The story is weird, but so engrossing. My one bug bear is that the narrator uses a very annoying voice for Reed. Luckily he doesn’t feature too much in the story after the initial chapters, so once you get past that it’s easy to settle in and enjoy the book.

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  • Dani Reviews Things / Love in a time of Feminism
  • 18-01-2020

Amazing story, questionable narration

At first, I had no clue what was going on. The blurb doesn’t quite prepare you for how much this book is going to demand from your brain. But slowly, I started to catch on to what was happening, though never enough to predict what came next. I can say I was genuinely surprised (and still a bit confused) to the very end. I enjoyed the mechanics of the world, and the way the story tied into another story, as well as the Wizard of Oz. The tarot references were interesting given my understanding of tarot, though I’m curious whether I was supposed to read into them as much as I did. Did the author purposely use tarot figures? On the other hand, I did not always like the narration. While it was fine when speaking from Roger, Dodger, or Erin’s perspective, the over-the-too voices for Lee and Reed were just silly. They sounded a lot like Team Rocket, which went against this book’s overall feel. Middlegame as a whole made the improbable feel real, whereas those voices veered into the ridiculous, breaking the spell. I would still absolutely recommend this book though, especially if you like books that play games with your mind and timelines. Quick trigger warnings for torture, murder, and attempted suicide.