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The Conjurer's Bird [Paperback]

Martin Davies
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.62
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Book Description

22 Aug 2006
In 1774, an unusual bird was spotted on Captain Cook’s second expedition to the South Seas. This single specimen was captured, preserved, and brought back to England—and no other bird of its kind was ever seen again. The bird was given to naturalist Joseph Banks, who displayed it proudly in his collection until it too disappeared. Were it not for a colored drawing created by the ship’s artist, it would seem that the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta had never existed.

Two hundred years later, naturalist John Fitzgerald gets a call from an old friend asking him to join the search for the bird’s remains. He traces the bird’s history, uncovering surprising details about the role of a woman known only as Miss B in Joseph Banks’s life and career. Could she be the key to solving the mystery—to finally finding the lost Bird of Ulieta?

Seamlessly leaping between two time periods, The Conjurer’s Bird is at once the story of Joseph Banks’s secret life and of Fitz’s thrilling and near-impossible race to find the elusive bird.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (CA); Reprint edition (22 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400097347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400097340
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,352,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Davies grew up in North West England. All his writing is done in cafes, on buses or on tube trains, and an aversion to laptops means that he always works in longhand. He lives in London and works as a consultant in the broadcasting industry.

Martin Davies has travelled widely, including in the Middle East and India, and he often plots his novels while abroad; substantial parts of The Unicorn Road were written while travelling through Sicily, and his plan for The Conjuror's Bird was put together on a trekking holiday in Greenland.

Martin Davies' books have been translated into twelve languages.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Combining natural history, a number of exciting mysteries, and several love stories, author Martin Davies tells the story of a modern day search for the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta, a single example of which was discovered during Captain Cook's second expedition, mounted, and then lost. As the novel opens, famed researcher of extinct birds John Fitzgerald is visited by a former lover from Brazil whose current lover is now in London, trying to locate the remains of this bird for the Ark Project, a program to collect rare or extinct DNA. Fitzgerald refuses a $50,000 offer, having decided to search for the bird himself.
The attempt to locate the bird draws the reader into the story of Sir Joseph Banks, the lead naturalist on Captain Cook's first voyage in 1768. Scheduled to hold the same position on the second voyage in 1772, Banks decided at the last minute not to go. That voyage, on which the bird was discovered, took place without him, but Johann Forster, the man who replaced him, give this bird to Banks upon his return. Banks displayed it for four years, until it inexplicably vanished from his collection.
The second expedition was notable for another event, however. When Cook's ship stopped in Madeira, a "Mr. Burnett" was waiting to join the ship as part of Banks's party. After hearing that Banks was not aboard, Mr. Burnett hurriedly returned to England, but Capt. Cook found him odd enough to record that "Every part of Mr. Burnett's behaviour and every action tended to prove that he was a Woman." The "Mr. Burnett" story combines with the biography of Joseph Banks as a dramatic and moving love story here, as John Fitzgerald, investigating, thinks "Burnett" may be the key to finding the remains of the bird of Ulieta.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read 12 Oct 2007
I happened to pick this book up because the blurb on the back sounded interesting, and was rewarded by a well written, fast paced, excellent story. The chapters alternate between the past and the present, and are equally absorbing. I couldn't put the book down, Martin Davies is a talented storyteller.
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5.0 out of 5 stars delightful 27 July 2012
By heyjude
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A super book, beautifully written, interesting and well researched. I have ordered 2 other books by this author on the strength of The Conjurer's Bird! As has been written by others this book slips between the present and the 18th century seamlessly. The copy that I ordered had little extras that other copies did not have so I was also quite pleased with that! Highly recommended - especially if you like well written novels based around historical facts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant buy 17 April 2012
By Maxie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read The Unicorn Road by the same author, we were delighted to be able to buy The Conjurer's Bird on Amazon at such a reasonable price.
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