World Fantasy and Crawford award-winning author Judith Tarr brings magic to the path of a pope.
The charismatic Jean Brassard provides the lilting French accent underpinning this performance of the historical fantasy (based on the written record and rumors surrounding Pope Sylvester II) of how a farmer’s son from a small French town makes the unlikely ascension to the "Throne of St. Peter". As Europe struggles to emerge from "the Dark Ages", young Gerbert attempts to escape the fields, studying mathematics, astronomy, and, with the help of a religious mentor, the magic that will help him claim for himself the apex of religious and political power.
Gerbert was a farmer's son in an obscure town in France, but his gifts of mind and intellect were so remarkable that even in the feudal world of the tenth century, he could rise far above his station. Princes and prelates courted him; emperors called him friend and teacher. He brought the lost art of mathematics back into Europe; he was an astronomer, a musician, a builder of strange and wonderful devices. In the end he reached the pinnacle of the world, a seat so lofty and an authority so great that he answered only to God Himself. But Gerbert was more than a simple professor of the mathematical arts, or even a prince of the Church. As a young student in Spain, guided by his priestly patron, he entered into the study of another art altogether, a hidden art, mastering mighty powers of mystery and magic. Magic, as every student of the art knows, has a price - and the greater the magic, the higher the price. The magic that came to Gerbert was very great indeed.
What did you love best about Ars Magica?
The attention to historic detail and the mores and predjudices of the era.
What other book might you compare Ars Magica to and why?
None, this is definitely a creature unto itself.
What aspect of Jean Brassard’s performance would you have changed?
Sorry, but his accent is hard to get used to during the novel. His french accent was extremely pronounced at the start of the book which made it hard to understand. After a while he turns the French accent down a few notches and the narraration is much better.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Any additional comments?
This is a book that is hard to place into a genre. It is definitely fantasy but more of a historical novel than that. It isn't my normal cup of tea, but the story is well done and it works.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful