Master of the World by Jules Verne

I’m going through a phase where I’m reading quite a few classics and – as in this case – books by authors of classics. There is something special about the way that English in literature was used a hundred years ago. I love the tempo and naive hope and civility of the stories. And thanks to Librivox.org, many of the classics are available by excellent readers for free. Verne’s book was read by Mark F. Smith, one of the best readers – at least as good as any professional I’ve listened to. So when I decided to listen to this book I was excited by the prospect of another great classic. Verne’s greater known books are adventure and excitement, dashed with science fiction. I expected the same here, but was sorely disappointed.

The Master of the World is about a man who creates a machine that can change forms between automobile, submarine, boat and airplane. At the time of the writing, submarines and airplanes were anticipated but not realized. To readers of this time, an automobile that could travel 120-200 mph would indeed seem near impossible. As a result of the invention, the Master of the World decides to flaunt his superiority, ignoring offers by governments to purchase the invention. Investigator Strock is charged with discovering and capturing the madman before his invention can cause harm to citizens of the United States.

One would think, as I did, that the premise would serve up an adventure worthy of reading. However, the book is a complete failure. The hero is merely a bystander, affecting the plot and the story in almost no way. The chase is wholly unsatisfactory. The resolution is so ridiculous and abrupt that when it was over I cried out loud, “Really? That’s it?!” Nothing happens in the book. And the book is not worth reading. By far the worst book I’ve read in years. There is a reason this is not a well known story by Verne.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. He reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com and previously on Bookboro. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

3 thoughts on “Master of the World by Jules Verne”

  1. As the narrator of the book, I wish you had found it worth your time.
    I almost always choose a title to narrate by what I want to read – as opposed to narrating what I’ve enjoyed in the past. I encountered The Master of the World as you did, chapter by chapter. I didn’t care much for it either – but I didn’t know that until the end!
    The 19th century audiences were probably wowed by this book; sadly, it doesn’t meet modern expectations.

  2. Mark – thank you so much for vsiting the site! I love your narration – in fact, I’ve downloaded many of the books you narrated ONLY because you narrated them. By far, you are my favorite narrator at Librivox. Thank you for taking the time to narrate so many books for us and those who follow us.

    Every so often a book is going to miss and unfortately this one did. I’m listening to Triplanetary currently… and am hopeful that it ends well!

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