Top positive review
53 people found this helpful
Good quality historical mystery
on 25 April 2011
This is a really well written and entertaining story. The principal characters (both historical and fictional) are well rounded and believable. Although, from the little I know of the real Bruno, I suspect he was not quite as nice a chap as S J Parris would have us believe - he seemed to manage to annoy everyone he came into contact with eventually. But that's being picky - this fictional Bruno is a likeable, intelligent spy/detective.
The cast of historical characters is pretty much a who's who of Tudor politics and alchemical proto-science: Walsingham, Burghley, Sidney, Mary Stuart, Howard, Dee, Kelly all make an appearance. The details are spot on and historically accurate - or plausible guesses where the truth isn't known (there is no evidence that Bruno met Dee for example but it seems highly unlikely that he didn't and it makes the story work so what the heck).
Historical fiction is quite difficult to pull off, in my view. How much were people in Tudor England quite like us in their day to day lives and relationships, and how much were they entirely alien in their world view? Parris's characters seem to be a little more modern than I suspect the real people were - but I think she generally gets the balance right and mostly steers clear of overtly anachronistic dialogue and motives.
I will be going back and reading the first in this series and will be hoping for many further volumes - maybe even a TV series with someone like Joseph Fiennes as Bruno, or would that be too much to ask?