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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heresy of Dr Dee
Dr John Dee - first introduced to us by Phil Rickman in The Bones of Avalon - continues his adventures in this complex and entertaining novel. Dee's friend Robert Dudley - one of Queen Elizabeth I's many favourites - needs to get away from court because his wife, Amy, has been found dead in suspicious circumstances. Both Dee and Dudley travel to the border between...
Published on 27 Oct 2012 by Damaskcat

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I am a big fan of Phil Rickman, and over the years have bought everything he's written. I had already read The Bones of Avalon the first in his series (I presume there will be more) involving Elizabeth's court astrologer Dr Dee and her court favourite Robert Dudley, so I gave this a go.
I have to say that while this is enjoyable, it's not as engaging as his Merrily...
Published 22 months ago by Tim62


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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heresy of Dr Dee, 27 Oct 2012
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Heresy of Dr Dee (Hardcover)
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Dr John Dee - first introduced to us by Phil Rickman in The Bones of Avalon - continues his adventures in this complex and entertaining novel. Dee's friend Robert Dudley - one of Queen Elizabeth I's many favourites - needs to get away from court because his wife, Amy, has been found dead in suspicious circumstances. Both Dee and Dudley travel to the border between England and Wales where Dee was born; Dudley to get away from the rumours and Dee to fulfil a rash promise to the Queen herself.

John Dee is much more interested in learning about the hidden side of life - about magic, the supernatural and his current interest, scrying - than he is in getting involved in either local or national politics. But involved he is whether he likes it or not and both his life and Dudley's will be in danger before they can return to London.

I enjoyed this book very much though I struggled to unravel the politics. But then politics in the age of Elizabeth I was complex and allegiances and loyalties changed by the minute and it was virtually impossible to tell whom you could trust. I enjoyed Dee's quest to find the Shewstone (crystal ball to the uninitiated) and liked the characters he encountered - especially the Bishop of Hereford. I also liked Anna Ceddol and thought she was an interesting person. Dudley was well drawn too and I felt his character came over very well and corresponded with all I've read about the real man.

I really like John Dee as a character especially his sense of humour. I thought his sense of confusion at being always one step behind in his understanding of the politics was very well drawn. I think this is a book which will repay a second reading and I'm sure I will see things in it the second time around that I missed on first reading. If you enjoyed The Bones of Avalon I'm sure you will enjoy this second book in the series.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sequel to bones..., 4 Dec 2012
By 
John "John75222" (Leeds, Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Heresy of Dr Dee (Hardcover)
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I like quirky and different in historical novels, particularly detective/mystery novels. I really liked The Bones of Avalon, felt it had a lot of potential, and represented a new and different character in an increasing cluttered genre. I looked forward to the sequel to see how Dee (and Rickman) continued to negotiate the court politics and complex social intrigues and allegiances of Tudor England that was overseen by the mercurial Queen Elizabeth, the same court which was itself an artefact of the murderous reigns of both her father Henry VIII and half sister Queen Mary.

There are dark undercurrents in The Bones of Avalon and there are even darker ones in `Heresy' as the story unfolds. Did Earl Dudley engineer the death of his wife? It certainly provides a suitably complex, and authentic, backdrop to this story as Dee goes off to fulfil a task for the Queen accompanied by his recently widowed friend.

I really like the character of Dee and I'm beginning to become a big fan of Rickman's storytelling style. Rather like James Forester's Clarenceux trilogy the style is rich in description of life and events and requires reading (as opposed to skimming) to appreciate the book fully. Can't recommend this book enough, I hope that Rickman is able to continue the standard in future outings.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 4 Mar 2013
By 
Tim62 "history buff" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Heresy of Dr Dee (Hardcover)
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I am a big fan of Phil Rickman, and over the years have bought everything he's written. I had already read The Bones of Avalon the first in his series (I presume there will be more) involving Elizabeth's court astrologer Dr Dee and her court favourite Robert Dudley, so I gave this a go.
I have to say that while this is enjoyable, it's not as engaging as his Merrily series. Some of the writing about 'end time' 'the dead are rising' came across as over-wrought. It didn't quite ring true - though I know it's a familiar trope in many late mediaeval/Tudor adventure novels.

I still think Rickman writes them better than most, so I will continue to read them. But I would prefer another Merrily, or perhaps a more serious, stand-alone book about Dr Dee.

Having read it, it faded from memory pretty quickly. This could well be due to my age I suppose, but his books on Merrily stay in the mind much longer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Heresy of Dr Dee, 9 Oct 2013
By 
Steve D (London, England) - See all my reviews
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The Bones of Avalon, the first book in this series and the first of any by Phil Rickman that I had read, was a cracking historical mystery with more than a hint of the supernatural about it, as Queen Elizabeth's astrologer and adviser on the occult, Dr John Dee, travelled to Glastonbury to try and locate the bones of King Arthur. That book, in turn, led me to Rickman's 'Merrily Watkins' series, similarly creepy mysteries only set in the present day.

I think the Amazon blurb says more than enough about the plot of this book without me going into any further detail. It seemed, to me, to be an appropriate time to read it, having just read another book (Traitor by Rory Clements) in which Dee featured heavily. What I have really enjoyed about Rickman's two Dee books is the way in which true events are woven so seamlessly into his stories. Just take Robert Dudley, in this case. Queen Elizabeth's supposed one true love but married to Amy Robsart, who had to remain away from court because of the Queen's dislike for her, and went a year without seeing her husband, she died from a fall down a short flight of stairs, leaving her husband free to marry Elizabeth. But was it an accident, or did he arrange her murder? The subsequent scandal is entwined brilliantly with this story, as is the history of the Battle of Brynglas, and the alleged rising of the dead from grounds around that hill, a mystery brought about by the presence of a young woman and her handicapped brother who can divine where the bones are buried.

As with all of his books that I've read so far, Rickman seems to have an innate ability to create an atmosphere of forboding in his tales. Whilst they are rarely scary, they never fail to be creepy, and he ties together very well all the various plot threads as the story reaches its climax. Rickman's style is sometimes deliberately obtuse, meaning that you have to read carefully at times to pick up on everything he is trying to convey. I don't think this is bad writing, it's a stylistic choice, and his language is chosen carefully to pass on a sense of the period and the way people may have spoken then. Many of his stories focus on ignorance and intolerance towards others' beliefs, and this is no different. It's a cracking read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Mystery in Tudor Times, 25 Dec 2012
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Comparisons with CJ Sansom's Matthew Shardlake mysteries are inevitable in the light of Phil Rickman's decision to dive into the Tudor era. But the comparison is not one Rickman fails in. As a newcomer to this field, he is remarkably confident. His characters have real depth, he spins a great yarn and his atmospheric explorations of Elizabethan faiths and superstitions are compelling. Above all, as with his excellent Merrily Watkins series, Rickman writes beautifully of the power of place, and exploits to the full his own fascination with the Welsh-English border lands; their myths and legends and the heavy air of spiritual awareness that hangs over their hills. Like Sansom, he takes the methodology of modern mystery writing and transposes it to an earlier time - to very good effect. A page-turner with intriguing historical detail, this is a story that does not disappoint.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and scary novel, 30 Oct 2012
By 
Mark Shackelford "mark shackelford" (Worthing, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Heresy of Dr Dee (Hardcover)
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In the style of C J Sansom - we venture into the murky world of Elizabethan spies and rather more of the occult that one might expect!
Our hero is sent on a quest to find a scrying glass and at the same time find out who murdered his friend's wife.

Lots of interrelated plots, plenty of blood and guts, some quite modern swearing (?), and a very spooky landscape as the setting for the main part of the story - set on the edge of Wales.

Various real historic characters pass through the story, which is well written, and with characters who you can believe in - and none of them are shiny super-heroes, which makes a change!

Highly enjoyable - and easily on a par with Sansom or Parris.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stuff, highly recommended!, 13 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Heresy of Dr Dee (Paperback)
I'm already a fan of Phil Rickman, and I was a little nervous when I heard about his forthcoming 'historical novel' as they are not always my sort of thing. I've read too many others where the usual criticisms apply - the author fails to get into the period mind set and tries to apply modern values to historical events, or delivers unconvincing portrayals of famous characters, or the dialogue has too much 'thee' and 'verily' and 'hey nonny nonny', or you get sidetracked into a tedious chapter about medieval breadmaking because they just can't resist showing off their research - but Rickman's Dr Dee is an absolute pageturner, written with the confidence of an experienced author with a real command of his subject matter. You really believe in the characters and the plot is beautifully constructed and fast paced. There is also the usual dose of Rickman noir and the supernatural, which will keep you on the edge of your seat. As if that wasn't enough, the sequel is just as good. Superb stuff, highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All along the border, 7 Sep 2013
By 
Skylady (West Midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Heresy of Dr Dee (Paperback)
he Bones of Avalon, introducing the Elizabethan court mystic and astrologer John Dee, was set firmly in the Somerset Levels and introduced us to the likeable character and his friend Lord Robert Dudley, favourite of the Queen. This time we see a somewhat disillusioned and impoverished Dr Dee travelling out to the Welsh Borders in search of a coveted `shewstone' (or scrying crystal), and thus far all seems pretty straightforward. However, nothing is quite as it seems in a Rickman novel and soon Dee and Dudley - rumoured to have murdered his wife and given the Queen a child - become drawn into a show trial for a local criminal with a dangerous glamour and staggeringly horrifying reputation. Is the trial all it seems, and for whose benefit is it being played out? Can the locals, or even the English, be trusted? Political and social cultures clash and merge along the border, that most mysterious of places; allegiances are formed and seemingly lost. Danger and a growing sense of menace and darkness pervade the novel as it moves deeper into the Welsh landscape. An abandoned holy well bearing the neglected statue of the Virgin, but of older and pagan origin, forms a memorable anchor around which revolve the unearthing of emasculated bodies, a priest who sees the devil's work in all he cannot explain, and the presence of a persecuted young woman whose gifted but mentally damaged brother can `find things' with apparent ease and no earthly guidance. Drawn to these captivating outcasts Dee discovers he wants to know more about his own Welsh ancestry and is forced to examine his own spiritual and political beliefs. And at the height of the action, Dudley suddenly disappears... Add into the mix the usual richly drawn characterizations of persons good and not so good, a flawlessly fluent writing style, the author's instinctive feel for the spirit of place and landscape, and some devious twists in the plot and we have classic Rickman fare - intelligent storyline, scrupulous research, rounded characterization and a building tension ending in one of the best final sentences I've read in some time. As with the first Dee book, repeated reading will be rewarded.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another hit for Phil., 19 Mar 2013
By 
jacky mercury (Bridlington, England) - See all my reviews
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This story takes place not long after The Bones of Avalon. It takes John Dee on a dangerous trip in The Welsh border country, where he cannot trust anyone and treachery abounds. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. A treat for lovers of historical fiction and Phil's fans alike!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, 25 Feb 2013
By 
Martin G (cocoa beach, florida) - See all my reviews
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The first half was very slow and I nearly gave up but the second half improved and I did finish it but I wouldnt rush to read another in the same vein
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The Heresy of Dr Dee
The Heresy of Dr Dee by Phil Rickman (Paperback - 5 Sep 2013)
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