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The Book of Fires: a Novel of Medieval London Featuring Brother Athelstan (A Brother Athelstan Medieval Mystery) Hardcover – 30 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Creme de la Crime; First World Publication edition (30 Sept. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780290667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780290669
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 268,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The clues are in plain sight, but only the cleverest readers will identify the Ignifer before Athelstan does." Publishers Weekly Starred Review

About the Author

Paul Doherty studied History at Liverpool and Oxford Universities, and is now headmaster of a school in Essex. He is the author of more than eighty historical mysteries including the Hugh Corbett, Mathilde of Westminster and Canterbury Tales medieval mystery series.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Annie W on 28 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Since this series is likely to reach its climax with the Peasants' Revolt, I have a suspicion that Dr Doherty is trying to wring as many books as possible from the months leading up to it. This plot is much more intriguing than the last, with the frantic search for a missing book on Greek Fire (potentially disastrous for the Crown, should its secrets fall into the hands of the Upright Men), even as its recipes appear to be being used by someone to destroy those involved in the hideous death of Lady Isolda Beaumont. There's a skilful blending of that immediate investigation with the rapidly-growing threat from the Upright Men, and the increasing unease within the city.

There are fewer by-rote descriptions of the common people, rogues, offences and punishments than there have been in the last few books, but the quality of proof-reading and even editing still leave quite a lot to be desired. 'Refectorium/refectariam'; 'schiltrom' for 'schiltron'; 'sacring' for 'sacred'; and the wonderful image arising from 'milk-sellers, with pails slopping either end of their yolks' (yokes)! There are basic slips in grammar 'you and her are well suited'; 'I am the gardener, Bonaventure, me and Sir John'. Apostrophes are wrongly-placed, words are missing, some are repeated within the same sentence ('He drained the goblet completely and examined the goblet'; 'told me about me about the posset cup'). I had a slight doubt, too, as to whether either Brother Athelstan or the author would refer to 'formulas', and there are some strangely-contorted sentences 'Our linen draper left his house last night strangely deserted', and some which don't quite make sense: "'From what Sir John has said,' he indicated with his head,'he is in the buttery breaking his fast.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wickedly plotted mystery with Sir John and Athelstan besieged from all sides as the 'Peasants Revolt' creeps ever closer to its murderous conclusion. I'm so pleased that Doherty has recommenced the 'Sorrowful Mysteries' series as of all the medieval sleuthing combinations this is without doubt my favourite pairing. The humour, the pace, the history all interwoven into an entertaining plot that has you walking through the 14th century streets of London, seeing the sights, smelling the smells, hearing the noises and just being a part of the action, the writing (for me anyway) is so evocative, as you follow the pair around. Gaunt was only mentioned briefly in this outing but I'm sure that if Doherty (please please continue the series) carries on, both him and Richard will be front and centre. Well worth the money and if you haven't read the others, go buy them, take a couple of weeks off, kick off your shoes and uncork your own miraculous wine skin and be transported back to be royally entertained.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sunim on 6 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
After Candleflame I had hoped for a better tale. I did manage to figure out the culprit quite early and was disappointed that the ending had been used in a Hugh Corbett novel. The pages of descriptive "padding" were not so lengthy which was a pleasant change and Sir John behaved more like the crown officer he is as opposed to the drunken glutton he is sometimes portrayed. (For a better tale of greek fire, CJ Sansom wrote a stunner called Dark Fire.) We are heading rapidly towards the revolt and I do wonder how our two heroes will fare. I will continue to follow the stories only to find out as I have read them from the start, but not with the enthusiasm I once had.
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By bookworm on 5 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A further excellent Brother Athelstan story. The little friar is definitely the central figure, Sir John is more on the side lines this time, more of an observer. Athelstan is more confident, more angry and determined.The story is well constructed with many twists that lead you up some apparently blind alleys: as ever, it is also historically well researched and informative. A riveting read until the end, I had decided who was probably heavily involved quite early one but it is only with the last couple of pages are all parts of the mystery revealed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another triumph for Brother Athelstan. I do hope that this is not the last in the series, I have read and enjoyed all the titles in the series and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys medieval mysteries.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this a difficult book. "Greek Fire" is a well-known phenomenon. To me, the author seemed to find it hard to sustain the theme of his narrative. I felt that the book limped along.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is the latest of a number of Sorrowful Mysteries books featuring Brother Athelstan and the Coroner, Sir John Cranston, and his never empty wineskin. The Devil's Domain (Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan) (Book 1, 1998). The author is very prolific and has now written over a hundred novels, some under various pseudonyms. No mean achievement, and more importantly his prolific writing does not seem to affect the quality of his work in any way. He has for a number of years been an established author of medieval novels and has also added a number of novels on Egypt to his ever growing list of titles. The Hugh Corbett mysteries were and are extremely popular and Paul Doherty has found another winner with this series, featuring Brother Athelstan as the main character, ably assisted by Sir John Cranston.

The plot takes place at the time of the Peasant Revolt, Wat Tyler and all that. A period of English history that had been festering for years and finally came to a bloody culmination with the deaths of many of the country's leading citizens and the destruction of their goods and property.

The plot of this book revolves around the fact that it has come to the attention of John of Gaunt, Regent to the young King Richard, that a book containing the secret formula of a devastating weapon, Greek Fire, has disappeared and John of Gaunt tells Sir John to involve Brother Athelstan in the task of recovering it before it falls into the wrong hands. In particular the Upright Men, who are involved in fomenting the rebellion, who could use it with catastrophic effect.

The author tackles this storyline with his usual aplomb, and his many followers will enjoy this one just as much as those that have gone before. Reader's new to Paul Doherty (are there any?) will soon become hooked and start looking for earlier books in the series.
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