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The Orpheus Descent Paperback – 24 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (24 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444731378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444731378
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 3.1 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Tom Harper has been writing elaborate thrillers that marry ironclad narrative skills with some of the most elegantly understated writing in the field; he's the thinking person's Dan Brown. Actually, Harper deserves the latter's success -- and more, as Harper is comfortably the better writer.' (Barry Forshaw, author of The Rough Guide to Crime Writing.)

'Harper effortlessly draws the reader into an unfamiliar time, bringing alive the characters and their motivations' (Publisher's Weekly)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Parm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
Review

I was really not sure what to expect with Orpheus Descent, I have to admit to owning all of Tom Harpers Books and reading none (until now). They languish in my mountainous TBR (to be read) pile.

So this was always going to be a new experience of style and plot. That said I'm a big fan of well written time-slip books, the interplay of differing era's, attitudes and people if done right can be fantastic.

Add to the above my love of ancient Greece, thrillers and the glowing praise filtering through on Twitter, what choice did I have but to make Orpheus Descent my first Tom Harper read.

Firstly I need to add that I did read the short story "Twelfth Tablet" (The Twelfth Tablet - ebook) that acts as a teaser for this book. For anyone not sure of Tom Harpers writing, go read this, it had me hooked from page one. It is however a teaser for the modern era side of the time-slip tale only but gives a great insight into Greek tycoon who acts as principle antagonist in both stories.

The main thrust of the plot follows the two distinct and yet gradually blurring timelines. In modern Greece Lilly an archaeologist goes missing, her husband who has utter faith in his relationship and wife knows she has not run out on him and sets out to find her, battling inner demons and the voices of family and friends who all tell him that she has just left him, he knows something isn't right, and he will stop at nothing to find her again.

In the alternate plot-line Plato leaves Greece for Italy, to search for his friend Agathon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada on 27 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
I seem to have hit a dual-timeline streak in my reading. Of the past dozen or so books I've read, at least five had dual (or multiple) timelines. It's an interesting realisation, and while probably not indicative of a trend in publishing - dual-timelines have been around for ages - as a reader, it does give me a clearer view of what can go wrong or right when such a construction is used. Tom Harper's The Orpheus Descent is another dual-timeline book and one which does it very well, in my opinion. The two timelines are clearly linked, but not dependent on each other, however, the braiding of the two narratives enriches the story as a whole and gives it added depth.

The earlier timeline follows Plato, one of the most important philosophers in Western history. One of Socrates' disciples, he was hit hard by his teacher's execution by his beloved Athenian state and for years he's set adrift, as were many of Socrates' other pupils. This results in Plato taking ship for Italy after receiving a cryptic letter from one of his closest friends and one of Socrates' star pupils, Agathon. He sets out on a ship in the - rather unwanted - company of Euphemus, a sophist, someone who embodies everything Plato and Socrates before him disapproves of heartily. What follows is a long game of chase across the Greek colonies in Italy, one in which Plato never quite manages to catch up to Agathon, but does manage to piece together the mystery his friend has unearthed. It's a fascinating journey, not just in a physical sense, but also on a meta-physical level, as Harper manages to incorporate the seed questions to Plato's best-known teachings. As such, he makes a convincing case for how Plato's departure from his Socratic principles came about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When archaeologist Lily disappears from the excavated remains of an ancient drowned city in southern Italy, we embark on a journey that will astonish us. Refusing to believe claims of friends and family, and police, that Lily has become another of those wives or husbands who simply decides one day to vanish, her husband Jonah, a musician, begins his own investigation, insisting that the disappearance from the dig of a small gold tablet must be related and even worrying that Lily's archaeological friends, his own friends, too, may know more than they say. Jonah sets of on a journey across Italy and Greece, following the clues, archaeological and otherwise, to find his wife. He is on a quest but he's not the first.

The Orpheus Descent is a novel that tells two stories. In parallel to Jonah and Lily's story is that of Plato. In the years following Socrates' murder or assassination, Plato's writings underwent a significant change as his philosophical view of life, love, beauty and virtue shifted. Tom Harper here gives us one possible reason for this. Plato is also on a quest. He is hunting for his friend Agathon or, more particularly, a book that Agathon was prepared to pay an enormous amount of money for but, as far as Plato can tell, he disappeared in the act of buying it. Wars between Greek and Italian cities makes this a dangerous time to travel but Plato is determined to find his friend and his book. Accompanying him through shipwreck and capture is philosopher Euphemus, a Sophist with an entirely different interpretation of goodness to Plato. Both philosophies will be tested. But as the hunt continues, following the clues left by people he encounters as well as his own gold tablet, the possibility arises that Plato is also not the first to follow this path.
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