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The Bones of Avalon (Dr. Dee) Paperback – 1 Oct 2010

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The Bones of Avalon (Dr. Dee) + The Heresy of Dr Dee + The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins 1) (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 542 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus (1 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848872720
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848872721
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Phil Rickman writes mystery in the original sense. His current novels blend authentic crime fiction with a careful element of the unexplained. Midwinter of the Spirit, from the internationally-acclaimed Merrily Watkins series about the diocesan exorcist for Hereford, is currently in production with ITV Drama.

Rickman, a former TV and radio news reporter who still presents the book programme Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales, has also written two historical novels with a new take on Dr John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. His earliest novels - paranormal thrillers based on aspects of British folklore - are all in print. His only short story, The House of Susan Lulham, can be found in the anthology Oxcrimes and he's also a contributor to Books to Die For, in which crime writers celebrate their literary heroes.

The 2014 novel, Night After Night is a ghost story and crime novel (not exactly horror or Young Adult, as you may have read elsewhere). It stands alone but involves characters from two thrillers originally written under the name Will Kingdom. A new Merrily Watkins novel is pencilled-in for 2015. PR has also collaborated with musician Allan Watson to produce on CD and iTunes the songs of Lol Robinson from the Merrily series and the Abbey Tapes from his early novel December. He is married and lives on the Welsh Border.

For the full and accurate facts, check out the website

Product Description


"* 'Rickman is an excellent writer, terrific on atmosphere' - The Times * 'We don't praise our home-grown thriller writers enough, it's high time we praised Phil Rickman' - Daily Mail" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Phil Rickman lives on the Welsh border where he writes and presents the book programme Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales. He is the author of ten Merrily Watkins Mysteries.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 Nov. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never heard of Phil Rickman before I stumbled, quite accidentally, upon this book. As a writer and historian myself, I am a harsh critic and have grown weary of predictable, run of the mill historical novels. Most are unconvincing both in characterisation and plot and when I picked up The Bones of Avalon I did not expect it to be any different. But I was wrong; Phil had me at the first line.

The Bones of Avalon is set in the 1560's; a time of religious uncertainty, Popish plot and counterplot. The people walk in fear, trusting no-one in an England still reeling from the heretical burnings and hangings of Mary Tudor's Catholic reign. Now, she is dead and another Tudor takes the throne. Another queen, the bastard daughter of Anne Boleyn - Elizabeth.
Haunted by her mother's death, uncertain if she will succeed or fail, the young Elizabeth allows herself to trust few men. Two of whom are Robert Dudley - mistrusted by the council, a wild card adventurer and rumoured to be the queen's lover; and her consultant and astrologer, Dr Dee, a mild mannered scholar and dreamer.
They are sent to Glastonbury to discover the missing bones of King Arthur, lost during the dissolution in Henry VIII's reign, so that Elizabeth might fulfil a prophecy. Without its abbey Glastonbury is desolate, the town decaying and as soon as Dudley and Dr Dee set foot there, mystery and superstition unfolds.
By the time I reached the end of the first chapter I knew I was in good hands. Mr Rickman's first person narrative is authentic enough to make me forget I was actually reading. The fumbling investigative powers of Dr Dee endears him to the reader and the primitive, wary people of Glastonbury instil the plot with ambiguity.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JoolsR on 8 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Being a big fan of Phil's previous, didn't know what this foray into history would be like, as he's normally routed very much in the present.
Ignore the dialogue structure in the first few pages, as he renders it more naturalistically a chapter in. The thing with John Dee (and unsure if this is what Phil was after) but he paints him as a reluctant celeb of his day. At the whim of politics and royal moods, John becomes embroiled in a plan to find the bones of Arthur (as in Arturian legend), and place them in Elizabeth 1st care, as part of Arthur's heritage in the royal line of England (something to do with ER1's mother being a witch, and Bess being haunted by her - very Hamlet like?).
There's a grissly murder, accusations of witchcraft, some LSD-druggy sex (well it is set in Glastonbury!)and religious conspiracy. Typical Tudor shenanigans. But John Dee comes across as a victim of the restrictive beliefs of his time, and a naive young man, rather than the shady sorcerer he is painted as in history.
Enjoyed it, and would like to see how John's own history could pan out. But it's a bit like watching 'Titanic' - on the whole you know how it all ends...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Williams on 29 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a longtime reader of Phil Rickman who was hungry for my annual fix of Merrily Watkins, I must say I approached this offering of historical fiction with some hesitation. I've never quite acquired a taste for the genre, but I have to confess that this was one tasty read, a perfect blend of historical and crime fiction.

As other readers have commented, Rickman serves up a story carved from an wonderful slice of Elizabethan life. He certainly did his research, which must have been exhaustive. As with his other books, it's the characters who once again bring the tale to life. The perspective is a departure from his other books in that the main character, John Dee, is also the narrator, which allows a more immediate intimacy for the reader, or for this reader at least. I also enjoyed seeing the other characters -- both historical and fictional -- through Dee's eyes, my favorite being the one-eyed hag, Joan Tyrre, who often sees what others can't. There's also a surprise -- but crucial -- cameo by a famous Frenchman!

Rickman fans will not be disappointed in this book. The only disappointment as far as Rickman is concerned is that he can't magically clone himself and simultaneously turn out sequels to this latest book, the Merrily Watkins series, the Will Kingdom books and Thom Madley's Marco series.
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104 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Mr Creepy on 25 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
It was only a matter of time before Phil Rickman got his teeth into Glastonbury. The mystical Isle of Avalon was an obvious target for Britain's master of creepy tales and he has once again written a superlative book.
This 16th century tale is very different from his `Merrily Watkin' series of great renown, though his gift of walking the tight-rope between sober fact and the supernatural is similarly employed. I know Phil had reservations about moving from contemporary fiction to the historical, but he has pulled it off in great style.
A reviewer has the constant problem of not being able to divulge too much of the plot and especially the dénouement, which inhibits a rational description of the story, but basically it is a first-person account by Dr John Dee, the mystical, scientific astronomer-astrologist of the Virgin Queen, as she was incorrectly described. Much of the story is based on fact - or at least, the factual accounts of characters, places and times are used to weave a complex story worthy of John le Carre's espionage books, with a wealth of obscure events being drawn together, when all is explained. In 1560, the young Elizabeth sends Dee to Glastonbury to seek the bones of King Arthur, which were turfed out of the marble tomb in the Abbey at the Dissolution twenty years earlier. She has been haunted by dreams of her mother Anne Boleyn, beheaded by her father and a cryptic message suggests that by kissing the bones, this malign spirit might be exorcised.
In Glastonbury, Dee falls in love with the woman doctor who treats his companion Robert Dudley, the queen's lover, but finds that the town has become a tortured place, under the thumb of a former monk from the abbey, who has turned Protestant and become a harsh Justice of the Peace.
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