Paris, 1585: Giordano Bruno has come to Paris, a city on the edge of catastrophe. Alone and near destitute, Bruno turns to old friend and zealous preacher Paul Lefevre. But when the priest is murdered, Bruno is pulled into a dangerous world.
If Bruno can't uncover the truth, not only is the future of the de Valois monarchy threatened - but his own life will be the forfeit.
©2016 Stephanie Merritt (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd
"Impossible to resist.... Parris creates a convincing sense of the past, woven with so much intrigue that the head fairly spins." (Daily Telegraph)
"It has everything - intrigue, mystery and excellent history." (Kate Mosse)
I'm not sure if it was the writing or the poor performance, but I struggled with this one! I have listened to previous works by this author with no problem - so, maybe, it was more the performance? I do, however, struggle a bit with Bruno, who seems to walk, almost willingly, into every obvious trap which has been set for him!
I've said before that I think Parris is a better historian than Clements, who writes the John Shakespeare series, and her accounts of the flavour of Elizabethan times are far more convincing. Having said that, this one is a bit of a disappointment. I began to get rather tired of the exiled Bruno's attitudes which seem to be increasingly querulous, infantile and muddle-headed. Probably this is unfair, and you will say that it must have been tough to maintain a principled stance, as a dissident, in the face of so much religious intolerance and in the face of the sheer weight of self-interested royal and establishment influence. But it gets harder to sympathise with his quest for ownership of a book that he really thinks will contain knowledge to change the world. I suppose this is a very modern perspective. Books have changed the world - but not many of them, and the ones that did were famous for their ideas about the world, and not about some esoteric knowledge of it, known only to an elite few, that probably doesn't exist. Yes, I know people thought that sort of thing in those times - but you see how hard it is put yourself into that mindset, and I don't think Parris brings it off. This is my main complaint. The plot however is also rather confused and bears the marks of too hasty writing - writers are not well served by market demands for more of the same and fast. And I found it hard to care about the outcomes - none of the central characters seemed worth too much bothering about, one way or the other. Henry 111 of France is a poor, fragile soul at best, and his mother Catherine de Medici an unlovable tyrant. Nobody is really likeable or interesting in a more than passing way.
I did manage to get the end, however, which suggests it is worth a listen so long as you don't expect too much. Daniel Philpott's reading is fine. No complaints there. And I learned that the court of Henry 111 was in its way more alarming that Elizabeth's.
I've hugely enjoyed this series and would highly recommend the books to anyone who loves a good historical mystery. I was disappointed though in the change of narrator, having listened to the whole series, and this hugely affected my overall enjoyment of the book. I got used to the change eventually but Laurence Kennedy is way too tough an act for anyone else to follow. I really hope he'll be back for any new books in the series!
Excellent addition to the series. Could be the best yet. It's set in an interesting time in French history and I am now keen to learn more about this period.
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