It is 1560, and Elizabeth Tudor has been on the throne for a year. Dr John Dee is her astrologer and consultant in the hidden arts…a controversial appointment in these days of superstition. Now the bookish Dee has been sent to Glastonbury to find the missing bones of King Arthur. With him is his Robert Dudley, a wild card…and possibly the Queen’s secret lover. The town is still mourning the gruesome execution of its abbot, Richard Whiting. But why was he killed?
What is the secret held by the monks since the abbey was founded? The mission takes Dee to the tangled roots of English magic, into unexpected violence, necromantic darkness…and the cold heart of a complex plot against Elizabeth.
©2010 Phil Rickman (P)2010 Isis Publishing Ltd
I knew Phil Rickman from his Merrily Watkins mystery series. However, this is a complete departure from his earlier work.
This incredibly well researched piece of fiction casts the historical figure of Dr. John Dee as a slightly misanthropic, bookish man tasked with the impossible task of finding the bones of King Arthur.
The prose is really very beautiful. Rickman has cleverly addressed the issue of 'voice' and tone' in his 16th Century protagonist by adopting a blend of Elizabethan syntax and popular turns of phrase while still delivering an accessible and intimate narrative.
Like most of Rickman's novels, this one allows the story to straddle the grey zone between oddity and the the supernatural. It's so refreshing to read a writer who leaves his texts so open like this, when most fiction writers seem obsessed to tie every little mystery up.
If you like historical detective fiction, especially featuring real figures, and you like bit of a spine tingle, you'll enjoy this audiobook.
The narration by Seán Barrett is flawless. He does great regional accents, which added to the sense of place in the story.
Queen Elizabeth has recently been crowned, and she's anxious to get help anywhere she can. That means sending a faithful scholar into the hinterlands to locate and retrieve the bones of King Arthur. This is a unique and clever story. The characters are well developed, and for the most part use language that gave a touch of the past without hindering the story. And Sean Barrett's narration was, as always, brilliant.
Honestly, I couldn't even follow the story because listening to the narrator was to hard. The plodding, monotonous, tone and the slow pace just killed it for me. Sorry Mr. Rickman, I have to give it a 2 star because I just couldn't do it.
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