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The Sky's Dark Labyrinth (The Sky's Dark Labyrinth Trilogy, Book 1) [Paperback]

Stuart Clark
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

1 Nov 2011
At the dawn of the 17th century, it was believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Yet some men knew that the Heavens did not move as they should and began to believe exactly the opposite - a heresy punishable by being burned alive. The Sky's Dark Labyrinth follows the stories of Johannes Kepler - a German Lutheran and the first man to distill how stars and planets moved according to mathematical laws - and Galileo Galilei. An Italian Catholic, Galileo tries to claim Kepler's success for his own Church, and finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue originating from within the Vatican itself. Both men and their families are trapped by human ignorance and terror in one of the darkest, yet also one of the most enlightening, periods of European history. The Sky's Dark Labyrinth is the first of a trilogy of novels inspired by the dramatic struggles, personal and professional, and key historical events in man's quest to understand the Universe.

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The Sky's Dark Labyrinth (The Sky's Dark Labyrinth Trilogy, Book 1) + The Sensorium of God (Sky's Dark Labyrinth Trilogy) + The Day without Yesterday (Sky's Dark Labyrinth Trilogy)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn (1 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846972159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846972157
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Journalist, award-winning author and broadcaster, Stuart Clark is a brilliant storyteller. Fiction or non-fiction, his work is written with conviction and with passion. In recent years, he has devoted his career to presenting the complex and dynamic world of astronomy to the general public.
His latest work is the pioneering trilogy The Sky's Dark Labyrinth. In the way that CJ Sansom's hugely successful Shardlake series marries crime writing with popular history, so The Sky's Dark Labyrinth trilogy blends gripping, original historical fiction with popular science.
Stuart holds a first-class honours degree and a phd in astrophysics. A Visiting Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire, he is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a former Vice Chair of the Association of British Science Writers. But it was his first work of narrative nonfiction, The Sun Kings, that established him as a popular science writer par excellence. Without fail the reviews, ranging from Nature to, remarked on his exceptional storytelling ability and sheer verve of his writing. It was shortlisted by the Royal Society for their 2008 general science book prize, it won Italy's 2009 Montselice Prize for best scientific translation, and the Association of American Publishers 2007 Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award for Excellence in the Cosmology and Astronomy category.
Stuart is a regular contributor to national and international programmes - radio and television - and dvd productions. He frequently lectures throughout the UK and, increasingly, throughout the world.
His Twitter account is @DrStuClark and his website is

Product Description


'This book is a moving and eye-opening story of brilliance and bravery, and the fight against bigotry and closed-mindedness' DAILY MAIL 'Stuart Clark follows a game of galactic hide-and-seek' NEW SCIENTIST 'Clark's account is superb ... a cracking good read' COOLSCIENCEBOOKS 'Well stocked with informative historical asides' SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY 'An intelligent book that neither romanticises the past, nor distorts it to suit modern Sensibilities' HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY

About the Author

Stuart Clark is a former editor of the UK's bestselling popular astronomy magazine Astronomy Now and a visiting fellow of the University of Hertfordshire. His book, The Sun Kings (Princeton University Press, 2007), established him as a popular science writer par excellence. Last year Stuart further honed his storytelling skills by working for the BBC to develop ten stories for a forthcoming science-based drama series, Stormshield, and writing the outline for the astronomy episode of a forthcoming BBC2 series on the history of science. Most recently, he has dramatised and read a portion of The Sun Kings for Radio 3. He lives in Hitchin.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quandary of Falling Bodies 14 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The bodies being those of Galileo, Kepler, Tycho and Co. They all went close to being destroyed by their own exceptional theories, especially the Tuscan genius.

Galileo explores the skies in a way no one had done before and propounds a radical reorganisation of the cosmos in consequence, defends himself from the accusations by the Church that his view contravenes Scriptures but is condemned all the same, and forced to abjure, returning finally in old age to publish a work (Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences; see also The Essential Galileo) that will not only set mechanics on a new path, but will transform the very way in which the deeper knowledge of nature is to be found.

This first installment in a trilogy of novels by astronomer Stuart Clark (the other two will concentrate on Newton and Einstein respectively), although simple in its narrative structure, brings to life the above characters in a vivid and dramatic way, focusing especially on Galileo and Kepler (for the latter, cf. Harmonies of the World), and their cosmic discoveries. These are fantastic stories, and the author makes full use of them, drawing on extensive research, relying on imagination to fill any gaps and, as he said himself in an interview, making "the colours a little bit brighter and the shadows a bit darker.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Scientific Storytelling 24 May 2011
Even though I'm revising hard for an Astronomy exam., I found it hard to put this book down. You can really imagine being back there in the 17th century, getting involved with the characters. Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler would have been thrilled to know that their names are being used in the Space explorations.

Stuart's style reminds me of C J Sansom's series of historical novels, which I also enjoyed.

Looking forward to Stuart Clark's next one in the Autumn.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book can't wait for the next one... 28 Nov 2011
When I saw this book on the shelf in a book store I knew I had to read it. While being a fiction book it revolves around a time when physics was changing the world, featuring both the characters of Kepler (who first put the idea of elliptical orbits, as proof that the Earth rotated the Sun) and Galileo (who first invents the telescope). It shows their struggles to keep their ideas in line with church (Lutheran and Roman Catholic respectively) while still pushing the boundaries of the limits of human knowledge.

This isn't your heaving bosoms type of historical fiction, this is the sort of fiction written about real characters in a hugely important time period. This is both highly entertaining, I couldn't put it down, and genuinely interesting.

This book would be a great present for those with a passing interest in physics (or it's history), but don't worry there are no complicated concepts or physics equations here. No knowledge of physics is necessary to get enjoyment from this book :)

The next book in the series, I believe, looks at Newton and his later discoveries. I can't wait for it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drama, intrigue and astronomy 19 Oct 2011
By J
I already knew a little about Kepler and Galileo and was aware they were contemporaries and that their views were against the religious teachings of the day. What I didn't realise was that they were fighting their respective corners against a backdrop of religious turmoil and war with an eminent cast of duplicitous characters.

Stuart Clark uses his imagination to flesh out the details between the well-recorded major events and has crafted a fast-paced story interweaving the lives of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei. The two men had found evidence that could change the centuries old view about the universe at a time when it was not wise to challenge the religious status quo. Both risked death for their beliefs.

What I particularly like is Stuart Clark's account of the day-to-day detail of living in 17th century Europe. The sights, sounds, smells and colours of the streets, houses and inns make for fascinating reading. His vivid descriptions of street theatre, traders, architecture, clothing, family life and the tedium of travelling (and moving house) show us how these people really lived. This is what Kepler's and Galileo's days were like in between moments of mathematical and observational insight and this is what brings the novel to life.

Stuart Clark's style is eloquent and entertaining and with the story flitting between Rome, Prague and Florence (and wherever Kepler found himself next), there is no time to get bored as we chase the main characters around Europe.

I somehow expected the book to end with the deaths of Kepler and Galileo although these two events are noted in the Epilogue. Instead, Stuart Clark chose to leave the stories of both characters on relatively positive notes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read.
Published 14 days ago by Colin McColl
4.0 out of 5 stars Galileo is better portrayed by Dava Sobel but as a character here ...
The world of Keppler comes to life here, he is not a character I am familiar with. Galileo is better portrayed by Dava Sobel but as a character here he does come across well. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dracosan
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant surprise for a random selection
This was a random pick for me something to read while on holiday. Turns out to be something of a page turner full of intrigue who can Kepler trust? Read more
Published 3 months ago by SCM
5.0 out of 5 stars A throughly engrossing read
First off, cards on the table. Stuart and I knew each other whilst we did our respective degrees some 20+ years ago. I remember Stuart being intelligent, thoughtful and engaging. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Seamus
5.0 out of 5 stars History and astronomy made exciting
This book has ignited my passion for astronomy and history. To read about it as a story rather than a book of facts was fascinating and much less boring. Read more
Published 10 months ago by hellan1980
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting!
Fascinating look into Keplers life and trails. Although I do wonder how much of the dialogue was based in fact, it was fascinating to see him just about escape with his and his... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jodie
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and credible
This is a great read as the author brings these characters, and the obstacles they faced, to life. I learnt a lot about the two men and their struggle searching for truth in a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars The sky's dark labyrinth
An excellent story fast paced and historically accurate. Provided a clear understanding of the lives of two great but troubled men, hounded for their beliefs. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Effenbee
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining
For me this book satisfies every criterion that I have when reading historical fiction. It gives a portrait of the times and events in the lives of several characters whose genius... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Cora C
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Read!
I make no secret of the fact that I am obsessed by the universe and all the science that goes with it. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Spice
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