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.
"Maybe Book 2 is better"
I couldn't get to like the main character. He found himself so charming but I just found his attitude to his host's daughter totally creepy. Maybe he improves in the next book. Or maybe I've been spoiled by C Just Sansom.
I enjoyed the story, combined with the historical detail, but I did rather struggle with the narration by Laurence Kennedy!
"Another great book from S J Parris"
The entire series is really good, gripping and full of twists and turns. I felt really sad when I came to the end of his books
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