Oxford, 1583. Giordano Bruno, a radical thinker fleeing the Inquisition, is sent undercover to Oxford to expose a Catholic conspiracy against Queen Elizabeth. But he has his own secret mission at the University, which must remain hidden at all costs.
When a series of hideous murders are committed, Bruno is compelled to investigate. What he finds makes it brutally clear that the Tudor throne itself is at stake....
©2010 Stephanie Merritt (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd
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"Another tudor tale"
I liked the twist that here was a heretic investigating heretics and the character has been well-established for further stories. However, there seems to be a "template" for this sort of book if you dig under the surface and compare to C J Sansom or earlier Ellis Peters
An enjoyable listen for the holidays
Probably, to see what how the character develops -
I read this book after I'd read CJ Sansom's Shardlake series. I like to read books where you get the feel of a time and place in history. Heresy as this in spades. It really gets across the fear of ordinary people living in Elizabethan times. A time that saw England run as a police state. As Elizabeth and her advisers were battling enemies from within the country as well as those outside.
Giordano Bruno the protaganist is a brilliant work of fiction...I was gobsmacked to find out that he was a real person. In fact Parris has woven a great deal of fact into this novel.
Giordano Bruno was read really well. Kennedy gets across the uncertainty of this Italian ex Catholic stumbling from one incident to another in medieval Oxford.
I enjoyed this book and will definitely listen to Parris's other Bruno novels.
"Good enjoyable lightweight read"
Enjoyed it as a normal run of the mill historical who done it. Bit like an Elizabethan Morse! Characters a bit shallow & stereotypical but an enjoyable yarn. Nowhere near the brilliance of CJ Sansom's Shardlake series but entertaining none the less.
"Fun enough but pedestrian"
This story's themes of Elizabethan England, missing books and reformation brutality are common enough, and the writing is not strong enough nor the plot different enough for it to be a real stand out. That said, it rattles along at a good pace and the reading is great, lots of clearly distinguished and appropriate accents.
"Well realised but pointless"
Those who like historical whodunnits or religious mysteries - Ellis Peters and Dan Brown are probably the closest comparisons.
Just make it more original; it really was just a rehash of familiar character types, plots and devices. I want to be surprised by a novel, not feel like it's been churned out by a jobbing writer who can do historical research.
What you get is a library, a lost book of forbidden knowledge, a natural philosopher turned sleuth, wrestling with his own and the prevailing religious tradition and a murder seemingly following a pre-ordained pattern (a book of the martyrs). Swop the university and the undergraduates for a monastery and novices, the Corpus Hermeticum for Aristotle's lost book on comedy and it's The Name of the Rose, or at least a half-baked take on it.
The world of Tudor Oxford is well researched and rendered without being too obviously well-researched and trying too hard. Giordano Bruno is a reasonably well realised fictional take on the real historical figure, neatly incorporating many biographical details of Bruno's life. The other characters are standard fayre taken from the shelf of stereotypes.
I wouldn't read another book in the series, but even if I did then I would get the paperback; the novel is written in the first person from Bruno's perspective, and so the narrator tries to affect an Italian accent throughout, and fails epically. His normal English reading voice reminded me at times of Clive Anderson, but he simply can't achieve anything approaching an Italian accent and this makes the entire book a very awkward listen. He tries throughout to roll his 'R's' but he just can't do it and instead just sounds like he has a very distracting speech impediment. How the publishers could have listened to him read a single page and think he'd be a good choice as narrator is beyond me - it is mangling of an accent of Dick Van Dykesque proprtions. Try as I might, I just couldn't get past this, but I still don't think I would have liked the book any more for it.
There is just nothing new in the story, plot or characters to suggest that you will get any kind of payback a the end - no surprise worth the effort, no novel, unanticipated twist which is going to make the plodding, slightly tortuous gradual revelation of the story worthwhile. I just repeatedly found myself thinking, 'For all the time I'm spending on this, I could be reading The Name of the Rose'. I got half way through chapter 16 and returned it to Audible unfinished.
"Not as strong a story as I'd hoped."
Possibly. If you haven't read other books set in this period I'm sure you will love it but in my opinion I've read better.
I have loved other books set in the Tudor period (e.g. The Shardlake series) but this book for me was weak compared to others.
I think I missed the point of why the main character is who he is. If that makes sense.
The 'point' as to why this person must narrate the story and be a part of this world didn't seem legitimate. Although he was interesting in ways, the reason why he was part of the story wasn't apparent enough for me. Other than him being a heratic, and many people in the in the story were, he seemed just be a foreigner.
I haven't, but I certainly would as he was a good performer. Especially considering the majority of the book has to be spoken in a Spanish accent which could, but doesn't, get irritating.
It certain could but when the book ended I didn't really care about the characters enough to want to know more about them.
This could be a fantastic book if you have not read any others in this genre or time period. I have and found others to be stronger and more compelling stories.
A most interesting book,well researched and packed with information of the way of life in this period of history.Well read .
Imagining living of the times, the narrator was really good, with accent to relive the character
The Plot, but the old flame turning up did not do the book any favours, hope the next book drops her altogether.
Brings to life of the times and tribulations, bought the character to life
Same title as book
Well worth listening too, especially when eyes get tired.
"The start of a tudor series"
Not a Shardlake (CJ Sansom), but why should this be compared to another author? It's different accept it, introducing a new series is hard, but we have a basic background to Bruno, giving hope of a good run of books (4 to date). The twist at the end was welcome and the overall standard of the book's storyline means i'll read more. The narrator was excellent, with his Italian accent.
"Shardlake it is not!"
This is the first book I have read by S.J. Parris. I got this as it is on the same theme as the Shardlake books by C.J. Sansom, which is similar in the sense that they are murder mysteries set in medieval times. However this is (in my opinion) in a far lower league than C.J. Sansom’s offerings. Heresy is set in Elizabethan England in the 1580’s. The prologue to the novel is set ten years earlier in Naples.
The victims are Oxford University academics who meet horrible fates. The main character is a lonely pansophist. Bruno is a free thinker in a time when free thoughts could get your head removed! He is quite obsessed with academia and has little interest in authority. Bruno is searching for a lost ancient heretical text. The violent turmoil between the religious reigns of Henry the Eight and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth are evident. I thought this was well written and interesting that kept me reading more. All characters are of interest with some historically factual like Walsingham Queen Elizabeth’s spy. The story is told in the first person from the perspective of the protagonist Bruno. Elizabethan life is accurately described as well as details of Oxford and London are detailed by the author. I think this book would appeal to an average reader who has a knowledge of Elizabethan England.
Bruno comes to Lincoln College which is a legitimate college in Oxford. Bruno finds a little love interest while he steps in to solve the murder mysteries. Moreover Bruno soon realises that few are who they profess to be on a personal and religious level. This was middle of the road. This is the first book in the series so maybe they will improve. I do not know if I would read another book by same author.
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