I can only discuss the parts that I heard from the abridged version but first off it was an eye opener to say the least. I am used to Cornwell's descriptive style and so expected no less than what was delivered but I will agree with you Laura that it was quite gory in places but not so much that I didn't appreciate the violence……these were after all extremely violent times and the authenticity that goes with it made the listening that much more realistic. The narration, though it appears we listened to different narrators, was excellent and delivered with energy and passion for the text. There is depth, plenty of character build-up and the story progresses at a comfortable pace, which is integral to keeping your senses sharp and enjoying what it is you are reading or listening to. I can lose interest quickly if certain ingredients are missing and while Cornwell successfully kept me gripped throughout, there were times when it slowed down a little so what it was like in the unabridged version, I don't know. I have found his style easy to read (and now listen to as this is the first audio book I have heard) and slowing the pace down a little is a tool he uses to provide a greater historical context. This, of course, depends on the book your are reading and while you expect some sort of back story to something historical like the Danes fighting the Saxons, you also want plenty of fighting and again this book delivers that effectively with well thought out battles down to every last stab and parry of a sword and thrust of an axe. This is an all-round great start to the Saxon Stories and one I enjoyed listening to.