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If you’re a fan of historical fiction and audiobooks, then Matthew Reilly’s “The Tournament” might just be the perfect listen for you. This audiobook, narrated by Lucy Gaskell, is an intriguing blend of history, mystery, and thrills.

Matthew Reilly is a famous Australian author known for his fast-paced, action-packed novels. “The Tournament” is no exception to this rule, as it follows the story of Queen Elizabeth I’s renowned chess tournament in 1546.

If you enjoy historical fiction with touches of mystery, you’ll love the twists and turns of “The Tournament.” It’s a compelling listen for anyone who appreciates a good story that keeps them on the edge of their seat.

Key Takeaways

  • Matthew Reilly’s “The Tournament” is a historically accurate audiobook that blends history, mystery, and thrills.
  • The audiobook is narrated by Lucy Gaskell, who brings the story to life with her engaging performance.
  • If you enjoy historical fiction with touches of mystery, you’ll love “The Tournament.”
  • The story follows the chess tournament of Queen Elizabeth I and is full of suspense, making it a compelling listen.
  • “The Tournament” is a must-read for fans of historical fiction who enjoy a good plot twist.

About Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly is a bestselling Australian author known for his fast-paced and action-packed novels. With over 10 million copies of his books sold worldwide, Reilly has become one of the most popular thriller writers of our time. His writing style is characterized by its high stakes, explosive action, and larger-than-life characters.

Reilly’s notable works include the Scarecrow series, the Jack West Jr. series, and Ice Station. He has also written standalone novels such as The Great Zoo of China and, of course, The Tournament.

Reilly’s writing style is heavily influenced by his love for movies, video games, and comic books, as he often incorporates these genres into his storytelling. He also places great emphasis on research, ensuring that his books are both thrilling and historically accurate.

The Plot of “The Tournament”

Set in the 16th century, “The Tournament” by Matthew Reilly follows the journey of the young Elizabeth I to London for a chess tournament held by the Queen’s champion. Although the event is ostensibly a game of chess, political intrigue and betrayal run deep in the heart of the tournament. The story follows Elizabeth as she navigates through the plot to overthrow her and seize power for themselves.

The main characters include the tournament players, their aides, and the members of the royal court. Each character has their own motives and allegiances, which are revealed as the plot unfolds. Through a series of unexpected twists and turns, the story builds to a thrilling conclusion that will keep fans of historical and political thrillers on the edge of their seats.

Overall, “The Tournament” is a gripping tale full of suspense, intrigue, and historical accuracies. The audiobook brings the story to life with vivid descriptions and expert narration, giving listeners a fully immersive experience.

Historical Context of “The Tournament”

In order to fully appreciate “The Tournament,” it’s important to understand the historical context in which the story is set. The narrative takes place during the late 16th century, a time of great political and social upheaval in Europe. At the center of much of this unrest was the Catholic Church’s attempts to maintain its influence and control in the face of increasing Protestantism.

One of the most significant events of this period was the reign of Elizabeth I in England. Elizabeth’s rule was known for its relative stability and the growth of English power, but it was also marked by religious conflict and the threat of insurrection. In this charged atmosphere, “The Tournament” takes place, pitting a range of historical figures against each other in a high-stakes competition.

Through the lens of this fictional tournament, Matthew Reilly explores the broader historical forces at play in 16th century Europe, offering readers a nuanced and informative portrayal of this fascinating period in history.

Narration and Performance

One of the most important aspects of any audiobook is the quality of the narration. In the case of “The Tournament,” the narrator’s performance is exceptional. They bring the characters to life with expertly crafted voices and distinct intonations that accurately reflect the emotions and personalities of each character.

The narrator’s style throughout “The Tournament” is engaging and evocative, making it easy for listeners to become immersed in the story. They skillfully navigate the fast-paced action and tense moments, building suspense and keeping listeners on the edge of their seats.

Overall, the quality of the audiobook narration and performance is top-notch, providing an unforgettable experience for listeners. It is a testament to the importance of selecting the right narrator for any audiobook.

audiobook narration

Pacing and Suspense

The Tournament by Matthew Reilly is a rollercoaster of a historical audiobook, with the pacing and suspense being a highlight of the story. From the opening scenes, the author masterfully builds tension, leaving listeners on edge and craving for more. The plot is expertly crafted, with each chapter pushing the story forward at breakneck speed.

Reilly understands how to keep the audience hooked, using pacing and suspense to great effect. He knows when to speed up the story, ramping up the excitement and making listeners root for the characters. Conversely, he can slow things down, creating a sense of impending danger and heightening the stakes.

The audiobook is an immersive experience, with listeners held captive by the pacing and suspense. Reilly’s ability to craft a historical narrative with such excitement and tension is a testament to his prowess as a writer. Fans of historical fiction will not be disappointed by this thrilling audiobook.

Character Development

One of the standout features of “The Tournament” is its impressive character development. Matthew Reilly has crafted a cast of engaging and multi-dimensional characters who undergo significant growth throughout the story.

The protagonist, Roger Ascham, is a highly intellectual figure who initially struggles to navigate the political intrigue that surrounds him. However, over the course of the audiobook, he becomes increasingly adept at playing the game and develops a deeper understanding of those around him.

Other characters, such as the enigmatic Elizabeth Tudor and the fierce Alice Clarent, also undergo significant changes. The relationships between the characters are complex and often fraught with tension, making for a compelling listening experience.

The character development in “The Tournament” is a testament to Reilly’s skill as a writer. By imbuing his characters with depth and nuance, he elevates the audiobook from a basic historical adventure to a thought-provoking exploration of human nature.

Writing Style

Matthew Reilly’s writing style in “The Tournament” is a testament to his literary craftsmanship. Reilly uses vivid language and descriptive techniques that bring the historical narrative to life, immersing the listener in the story. His dialogue is engaging and insightful, conveying complex emotions and ideas with ease.

What sets Reilly’s writing style apart is his ability to create a fast-paced and thrilling storyline without sacrificing depth or substance. The characters are well-rounded and dynamic, each with their own unique voice and motivations. Reilly’s attention to detail and historical accuracy also add an extra layer of authenticity to the narrative.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction or simply appreciate excellent writing, “The Tournament” is definitely worth a listen. Reilly’s writing style is sure to keep you captivated from beginning to end.

Historical Accuracy

In “The Tournament,” Matthew Reilly takes readers on a journey back in time to the 16th century, where the book’s events take place. With a setting rooted deep in history, it is only natural to wonder about the historical accuracy of the audiobook.

However, readers can rest assured that Reilly has done his due diligence in presenting an accurate depiction of the period. His descriptions of the cultural, political, and societal milieu of the time show extensive research and attention to detail. Furthermore, Reilly’s portrayal of historical figures is consistent with their actual personalities, actions, and motivations, rather than relying on stereotypes or caricatures.

Of course, as with any work of historical fiction, some creative liberties are taken to enhance the narrative’s pacing and add dramatic effect. But overall, “The Tournament” has a strong foundation in historical facts, presenting an authentic and immersive experience for readers and listeners alike.

historical accuracy

Themes and Messages

As listeners delve deeper into “The Tournament”, they will uncover a plethora of themes and messages that the audiobook explores. Matthew Reilly’s historical fiction offers a glimpse into the world of medieval European politics and conspiracy.

One of the primary themes in “The Tournament” is the corrupt nature of power. As the story unfolds, listeners begin to see how those in power use their influence to manipulate others for their own gain. The audiobook highlights the consequences of those actions and the effects that power has on individual lives.

Another crucial theme that the audiobook explores is ambition and sacrifice. The protagonist’s goal to become the champion of the tournament and its prize carries significant consequences. He must choose between his ambition to win and his morals and principles, which eventually leads to his internal turmoil.

“The Tournament” also engages in themes of identity and loyalty. Listeners explore how characters identify themselves and those they protect in the ever-changing political landscape of medieval Europe.

Overall, “The Tournament” successfully merges historical accuracy with fictionalized storytelling to deliver a narrative that is as engaging as it is thought-provoking.

Reception and Critique

“The Tournament” audiobook has received both critical acclaim and mixed reactions from its audience. Critics have praised Matthew Reilly’s ability to craft a compelling historical narrative that keeps listeners hooked from the start. They note the author’s impeccable research, which adds authenticity to the plot, making it come to life in the mind’s eye. The audiobook’s pacing and suspense are also appreciated as they never allow the storyline to become dull or predictable.

However, some have criticized the audiobook’s over-the-top descriptions and weak character development, highlighting that the adventure overtakes the depth of the characters. Although the narrator’s performance has been commended, some feel that the narration’s enthusiasm makes the audiobook’s experience too dramatic and artificial for their taste.

Overall, the “The Tournament” audiobook has received mostly positive reviews from critics and listeners alike. It remains a well-loved historical fiction audiobook with fantastic action scenes, engaging historical details, and thrilling suspenseful moments.

Similar Audiobooks You May Like

For fans of “The Tournament,” we recommend checking out these similar audiobooks:

  1. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. Set in medieval England, this historical fiction follows the adventures of Uhtred, a Saxon warrior who must navigate the political landscape and fight to protect his homeland.
  2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This epic historical novel spans multiple decades and tells the story of the building of a cathedral in a small English town. Filled with drama, intrigue, and romance, it’s a must-read for any historical fiction lover.
  3. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Set in 14th-century Italy, this murder mystery follows William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar who must solve a series of gruesome murders that take place in an isolated monastery.


In conclusion, “The Tournament” by Matthew Reilly is a historical fiction masterpiece that keeps listeners on edge from start to finish. Reilly’s impeccable writing style and attention to historical accuracy make this audiobook an absolute delight for fans of the genre.

The narration by Steven Crossley is superb and adds a new dimension to the listening experience. Crossley perfectly captures the essence of each character, immersing listeners in the story’s world.

Overall, “The Tournament” is highly recommended to anyone who appreciates a thrilling plot, well-developed characters, and an accurate historical setting. This audiobook is perfect for those who enjoy a mix of history, suspense, and intrigue in their listening experience.

If you’ve enjoyed “The Tournament,” you might also consider checking out other audiobooks from Matthew Reilly, such as “Scarecrow” or “The Four Legendary Kingdoms.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this audiobook review. We hope that it has been informative and helpful in guiding your listening experience.


What is “The Tournament” audiobook about?

“The Tournament” is an audiobook by Matthew Reilly. It is a historical thriller set in the 16th century during a fierce chess tournament held in Constantinople. The story follows a young Elizabethan clerk who becomes involved in a web of political intrigue and must navigate the dangerous world of power and deception.

Who is Matthew Reilly?

Matthew Reilly is an Australian author known for his fast-paced action and adventure novels. He has written numerous best-selling books, including the popular Scarecrow and Jack West Jr. series. Reilly’s books often combine elements of history, science fiction, and high-octane suspense.

Who narrates “The Tournament” audiobook?

“The Tournament” audiobook is narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies. With his captivating voice and skillful storytelling, Davies brings the characters and the intense atmosphere of the story to life, enhancing the overall listening experience.

Is “The Tournament” audiobook historically accurate?

While “The Tournament” is a work of fiction, Matthew Reilly has meticulously researched the historical context of the time period. The audiobook incorporates accurate details about the 16th century, including the political landscape, cultural practices, and the historical figures involved in the chess tournament.

What is the writing style of Matthew Reilly?

Matthew Reilly is known for his fast-paced, action-packed writing style. He expertly blends historical facts with thrilling fictional narratives, creating a gripping reading experience. Reilly’s writing is characterized by vivid descriptions, realistic dialogue, and a relentless pace that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

Are there any similar audiobooks to “The Tournament”?

If you enjoyed “The Tournament” audiobook, you may also enjoy other historical thrillers such as “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco, “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel, or “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. These audiobooks offer captivating stories set in historical periods, filled with intrigue, suspense, and richly developed characters.

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