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The Water Dancer

Narrated by: Joe Morton
Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.50

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Every slave plantation is a house of spies and intrigue. No slave walks a straight line or has a single story - deep within their hearts is betrayal and insurrection. But against whom?

Hiram Walker is a man with a gift and a curse. He was born between worlds: his father a white plantation master, his mother a black slave. And, unbeknown even to himself, he was born with a special power. When he is sold to a new mistress as punishment for attempting escape, Hiram discovers her home is a secret hub of the underground railroad: a training ground for its agents.

Hiram fast becomes a highly skilled agent, retrieving the enslaved from the most dangerous circumstances and gradually learning to harness his power - but betrayals lurk everywhere. And eventually Hiram must risk everything to return to his father's plantation and free the friends he left behind.

©2019 Ta-Nehisi Coates (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Loved it

An engrossing tale, told with a deep understanding of history. The narrator is brilliant.

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  • xan
  • 23-10-2019

Brilliant.

A masterpiece. Reminiscent of Frederick Douglass, with threads of fantasy artfully woven in. An important narrative blending painful reality with poignant symbolism. Powerfully feminist in a way that male written and focused stories about this era often fail to be.
Joe Morton's performance is transporting and lends texture to the story that I'm sure reading the text alone would not have given me. You really should read this book.

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Possibly better visual than audible

I struggled to listen to the narrator who moved between accentuating every single syllable in a completely verbose manner to sounding as though he has never had a moment's education..the latter situation probably being the case, as he was brought up by his black nanny.

I think that for me I would have gained more from this book by reading it.. I found that the narrator overshadowed the story and I couldn't get away from him and get lost in the book.

I also couldn't understand half of it.

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  • Yas
  • 13-12-2019

An old tale of slavery told like never before

This yet another old tale of slavery but told like never before. It's depiction of the free slaves underground network is classic & holds the different individual tales together. This a masterful performance by Morton.

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  • Helena Lindgren
  • 14-10-2019

Fantastic story and narration

Can’t stop listening to this story, it’s characters that become so alive and the narration adding a level to the mesmerising world of people. Truly fantastic.

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  • Neozoe
  • 04-02-2020

Masterfully delivered

The performance was exhilarating! The singing especially so!
I don't know if fictionalizing the underground railroad to freedom and mystifying Harriet Tubman is the best call but I do know it certainly softens the narrative of slavery or as the author innocuously calls it 'The Task".
The dichotomy between the tasked and the quality is masterfully rendered: Curious would-be-saviors, like Corrine Quinn, have dubious motives which makes them the victims and not the tasked that they wish to free. Well played!
I do look forward to more.

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  • Steve Hocking
  • 25-01-2020

An interesting thought provoking work.

I enjoyed aspects of this work and it’s beautifully written. I didn’t enjoy the spy aspects and mystical elements. It is though a fascinating perspective on a subject I have read very little on. The performance of the book was first rate, it really brings it alive.

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  • Audra Martin Merrick
  • 24-01-2020

Wonderful story, wonderful voice

The book is very well crafted. I’m so glad I listened to it as Joe Morton really brought the story alive. Highly recommend.

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  • B Capela
  • 23-01-2020

Amazing

I have learned so much about the experiences of the people that were traded for profit. But the book is not about what was done to them but about what they did mixed together with supernatural, romance and love. Joe Morton is superb and the perfect voice to read this story.

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  • Louise G
  • 10-01-2020

Remarkable Story Telling

I was absolutely gripped by the story with its vivid characters and completely unexpected twists. The authors beautiful handling of mythology and historical events is truly remarkable and engaging, topped off with the best narration I have heard to date. Truly wonderful!

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  • PrimaDiva
  • 27-11-2019

Finely balanced

Complex and profoundly moving. I didn't quite understand it at first, but as all the elements started to fall into place I was totally captured by the books' narrative and Joe Morton's narration. The blending of fact, fiction and fantasy was so skilfully done, I was hooked. I want to listen to it again.

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  • Fab1
  • 23-11-2019

An engaging & captivating book

I hadn't heard the hype around this book before purchasing and it was recommended to me by a friend, so I had few expectations. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is superb ....beautifully written and completely absorbing. To listen to a view of slavery (a subject im afraid Im ignorant of) from the inside the experiences of those enslaved was very powerful indeed.
The narrator also did an excellent job of drawing the listener in.
Highly recommended

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  • Eleasia Ho-Shing
  • 22-11-2019

Amazing Read

One of the most amazing books I have read for some time. I was so lost once I had finished this book. I literally lived within the pages for the entirety of my read. Captivating.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-11-2019

Very disappointing

I did not enjoy this book at all. I stuck with it to the end, but it was very difficult to follow, with way too many characters and it took way too long to get going. The bits where the narrator was singing were also unnecessary and didn’t make any sense. It was chosen as the first read for a book club and 3 out of 4 of us did not enjoy this book.

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  • Ade Adeniji
  • 05-11-2019

Disappointing

I really wanted to like this book - in light of all the hype - and so I persevered. I kept hoping for it to captivate me and it did not. The narrator of the audiobook did a great job and I think if I had the hard copy I would have abandoned the book at some point.

It all started off well - very dramatic- and I got lost somewhere in the middle and by the end I was completely lost. Felt very messy and lacked direction. Probably the type of book that needs to be read at least twice, but I’m not sure I’ve got the energy or interest to embark on that voyage!