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153 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mainly Fermin's story
I first entered `The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' in 2003 and `The Shadow of the Wind' instantly became one of my favourite novels of all time. 'Then came the darkness of `The Angel's Game' set in the 1920's which introduced the character of David Martin as well as providing a backstory for Sempere and Sons bookshop. `The Prisoner of Heaven' is the third instalment in...
Published on 21 Jun. 2012 by I Readalot

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly deflated...
I write here as a lover, not a hater, of the author.

But in this instance I feel underwhelmed and disappointed. Perhaps I built this book into something that it wasn't supposed to be, I loved Shadow of the Wind and enjoyed The Angels Game. The former is a standout, stand alone book, I went to Barcelona after reading it and looked at every door imagining the...
Published on 31 July 2012 by Keith


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153 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mainly Fermin's story, 21 Jun. 2012
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
I first entered `The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' in 2003 and `The Shadow of the Wind' instantly became one of my favourite novels of all time. 'Then came the darkness of `The Angel's Game' set in the 1920's which introduced the character of David Martin as well as providing a backstory for Sempere and Sons bookshop. `The Prisoner of Heaven' is the third instalment in what has been called a cycle rather than a series and can be read in any order (according to a note at the front of this volume). It begins shortly before Christmas in 1957 and through characters and narrative threads it links the first 2 novels with Fermin taking centre stage.

A stranger enters the bookshop while Daniel is alone and buys a rare edition of `The Count of Monte Cristo' which he inscribes and leaves with a confused Daniel to deliver. Who is this man and how does he know Fermin? Fermin reveals his long and complex history to Daniel, a history which includes David Martin. `The Count of Monte Cristo' plays a central role in this novel in the same way that `Great Expectations' was central to the events of `The Angel's Game'. I read `The Prisoner of Heaven' in one sitting and on finishing it I immediately turned back to `The Angel's Game' which I am reading differently now that I know more of David Martin's history.

This is not another `Shadow of the Wind' but it is an atmospheric and beautifully written novel full of mystery and intrigue and peopled by characters who have become old friends. It adds to the Gothic world that Zafon has created, a world where books are important and powerful and where every book deserves to be saved. His books also explore the very nature of writing, the struggles and obstacles that have to be overcome. Also, as a bookseller I particularly enjoy the descriptions of Sempere and Sons, the kind of bookshop that is unfortunately becoming harder to find. Zafon's love of language and books shines through in `The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' cycle and anyone who loves books should read them.

There is a cinematic quality to the writing and many people wonder why they haven't been made into films, quite simply it is because Zafon does not want this to happen, and basically saying that some books should stay as books , I have no argument with that.

As with any translated novel the choice of translator can make or break, Zafon has found his perfect match with Lucia Graves, I could quite easily believe that they had all been written in English.

Since posting this review I watched a 'Meet the Author' interview with Zafon on the BBC News Channel. He is currently working on the 4th instalment of the cycle and it is to be a Gothic, operatic finale, sounds good to me.

Fans of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle may be interested to know that if you go to Zafon's website you can download music that he has composed and performs as a 'soundtrack' to 'Shadow of the Wind' and 'Angel's Game', some people can be too talented!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly deflated..., 31 July 2012
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This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
I write here as a lover, not a hater, of the author.

But in this instance I feel underwhelmed and disappointed. Perhaps I built this book into something that it wasn't supposed to be, I loved Shadow of the Wind and enjoyed The Angels Game. The former is a standout, stand alone book, I went to Barcelona after reading it and looked at every door imagining the Cemetery of Forgotten Books...

Anyway, if you have not read Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game do not buy this book (yet). It's simply not possible to read this book on its own, with many plots and characters backwardly made...

Overall, this is a book dedicated to Fermin giving more detail to his colourful past, which is again well written and shows great depth of description (you can smell Montjuic Castle in its rotten past and Fermin is a great character). But, without introducing any spoilers, I found too many subplots opened and new characters introduced which were then just left by the side. Perhaps to feature in the next book, but I wanted more now; overall I feel I have read half a book...

When I expected more tension and completeness I found an ending. Of the plot that did start and ended in the book, the flow felt a little rushed and sequences of plot a little too easy to find/solve (the art of discovery throughout a little too easy for me). Questions I wanted answering though didn't, for example where did the 1000 pesata note come from (not a spoiler)?? It almost feels that the last of the quadology (or whatever four book sequences are called) was in the Authors mind writing this and he wanted this story to be over as quickly as possible. For me this book needed more depth more story, and not a Hollywood type ending of what happens next...

My last comment being Shadow of the Wind is my favourite book, read that and read this...but perhaps wait for the 4th book to be released.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite 'Shadow', but still highly enjoyable, 4 July 2012
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
I have read all of Zafon's translated works and he is one of my favourite authors. I waited a long time in anticipation for `Prisoner' to be released and managed to bag a copy the day before my holiday. Surrounded by sand, sea, bucket and spade, I was disappointed to discover that, despite a summer publication date, the story was set at Christmas time; however, it didn't take long to overlook the fairy lights and nativity scenes and become gripped by the story. At times, the book was utterly un-put-down-able.

I'm still feeling confused by how absorbing the novel was since the plot lacks the complexity of `Shadow' and `Angel's Game' and feels considerably narrower, largely focusing on Daniel's friend and book shop colleague Fermin. There's less mystery too and the twists and turns aren't nearly as impressive as its predecessors'. And yet, I still found it hard to put the book down. Zafon is a master at pace and cliff-hangers and casts atmospheric webs that keep you trapped inside the novel long after you've finished reading. One senses he could write the story of the three little pigs and still make it gripping.

The characters are Zafon's customary larger-than-life heroes and villains and are beautifully drawn. Valls, the director of the prison where most of the story is set, is a wonderfully wicked, and often a-typical, bad guy. The prison itself is also beautifully drawn and Lucia Graves' translation ensures we are chilled by its brooding presence at the dark deeds that go on within its walls.

For me, the draw of Zafon's cycle of novels is the unashamed indulgence in dusty old books, mysterious messages, creepy buildings and shadowy figures. `Prisoner' is more restrained with these themes, but their presence is still strong enough to prevent disappointment among fans. Moreover, Zafon's sense of adventure and apparent love of books is as palpable as ever.

A note for those new to Zafon: the book is probably best considered a spin-off tale rather than a fully-rounded novel. Unlike the other two parts of the cycle, `Prisoner' doesn't work hard enough at being a stand-alone piece as well. The author suggests in a note on the text that the three books can be read in any order because they all lead back to the same centre; however, I would personally recommend that new readers read at least `The Shadow of the Wind' first.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An evocative telling of Fermins' past., 5 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
This third novel in 'the cemetery of forgotten books' series swept me along. Zafon's skill in telling a compelling story with ease and fluency captivated me and kept me hooked throughout.

There was a simplicity to the construction of this book which made the story far easier to follow than the convoluted labyrinth of smoking mirrors that was 'The Angels Game'.

It is obvious that the story is incomplete at the end and there are many more twists and turns ahead in the lives of Daniel Sempere and the wonderful creation that is Fermin Rodrigo Del Torres.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastico!, 26 Aug. 2012
By 
T. Knowles "epd" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
Shadow of the wind is my favourite book of all time and I must admit to being a little disappointed by the sequel. However, Prisoner of Heaven is absolutely gripping from the start and is left wide open at the end for the next one too(yippee)

I always know a book has got me when I'm so far in that I shed a tear at the end and feel deflated that the book has ended; this is that novel.

Start with shadow of the wind but make sure you read this one. It is brilliant; you won't be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 12 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
I loved "Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, so was very excited about his new book "Prisoner of Heaven" which is part of the same series of books. "Prisoner of Heaven" was easy to read and absorbing - I read it in a couple of days. However for me it lacked the depth of "Shadow of the Wind", nor did it contain the beautiful use of language that "Shadow of the Wind" did. That being said, it has been a number of years since I read "Shadow of the WInd" and "Angel's Game" and now that I have read "Prisoner of Heaven" I am inspired to re-read them together, because I feel I might have got more out of "Prisoner of Heaven" if it hadn't been so long since I read "Shadow of the Wind". In conclusion, if you have read his other books, you should read "Prisoner of Heaven", but be warned that it doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by "Shadow of the Wind".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Part Three in saga, 5 Jun. 2013
By 
Archy (ALTRINCHAM, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Paperback)
This is advertised as a stand alone novel, and while it can probably be enjoyed that way it's not the best starting point for what is clearly becoming a series. Shadow of the wind remains the best place to start, a classic, magical book. The angel's game starts promisingly but becomes rather a humdrum thriller, while here the law of diminishing returns has definitely set in. Once again the beginning is intriguing, as a mysterious stranger appears in a bookshop and purchases an expensive volume, only to leave it to one of the assistants, with an equally mysterious message. (Given what we later find out about this stranger, exactly what is the point of this, except to tease the reader in? And where did the huge value note come from? But anyway...)

After that the story, told by the assistant, slips back in time to the war, and a kind of updated Count of Monte Cristo tale of prisoners in a forbidding castle. Again, what started as a fascinating mystery becomes a rather humdrum prison tale. Characters from the previous novels appear, and there is some rather far fetched plot contrivance before the novel ends with what seems like merely a hook for the final volume.

It's an enjoyable and easy read, and those who can remember the characters and the story from the previous novels (I can't despite having read them long ago) will get more from this than the average reader. But those coming to this as a one off might feel a little short changed, and would be better advised to read Shadow and Angel's game first.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, but a touch short!, 22 July 2012
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
I think I'm in the minority in that I greatly preferred Angels Game to Shadow of The Wind, so was a little disappointed when I read that the book picks up Daniel and Fermin's story; for I didn't warm to either of their characters whilst reading Shadow of The Wind. However, I was still greatly anticipating the release of Prisoner of Heaven.

Prisoner is not a mystery thriller, but is intriguing. Without giving too much away, it tells the story of Fermin's past, which brings the plots from Shadow of the Wind and Angel's Game together; and takes the character of David Martin into Daniel's world. The events here will throw into doubt things the reader thought were already known from the previous stories. However, there are still tantalising hints that not everything is at it might seem. The conclusion leaves the way open for a sequel, and I can only hope that some of the unanswered questions will be addressed in some way then!

Zafon's style of writing is mainly what has drawn me to his work, and kept me following this series to date. There's no doubt in my mind that Zafon has substantial talent when it comes to the written word. His style not only draws the reader into the text, but conjures up visual images of the events in the mind as the text flows from page to page. In that respect, Prisoner of Heaven does not disappoint. I also feel that Zafon's style has matured a lot since Shadow of The Wind. I felt at that time the fact that Zafon had previously written young adult fiction was quite apparent. This is a drawback Prisoner doesn't suffer from I'm pleased to say.

My only real criticism of Prisoner is the length. It stands at just under 300 pages, and is presented in quite a large font. I wonder whether there was a hurry to get this book released, or did the publishers simply want the benefits that an additional release would bring? Either way, its a shame that the progression of Prisoner comes across as being cut short. There's clearly more of the story to tell, and continuing to convey it here would easily have held the readers' interest.

It's worth noting that both Shadow of The Wind and Angel's Game could be read as completely separate novels, as they have the smallest of connections. Apparently the same should be true of Prisoner of Heaven. This is partly true - it could indeed be read without reading the predecessors. However, there are references throughout here to plot points in the previous books that will make little sense to those who haven't read them. I personally wouldn't recommend this without having read Shadow of The Wind at least. I don't feel you need to have read Angel's Game.

Looking forward to the next instalment!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to the ending??, 30 July 2012
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This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
A good read, as far as it went, but quite definitely a mere shadow of "Shadow of the Wind". It is almost as if the author became bored with his tale just after half-way through, and finished it at full speed. There were so many unanswered questions, for example, why did the "villain" instruct one of his employees to make contact with Daniel's wife? What happened to Martin, and who was the mysterious "Boss"?
All in all very disappointing-I couldn't believe that I had come to the end of the story when I did!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Oct. 2013
By 
Stephen McBride (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Paperback)
I loved 'The Shadow of the Wind', and I thought 'The Angel's Game' was even better. But this is very disappointing. It goes nowhere. It starts with the appearance of a strange and sinister figure, then goes into a long backstory from the grim early days of the Franco regime. When the sinister figure re-appears he is revealed as sad and irrelevant, and quickly departs the story. In the backstory a new figure appears as chief villain, but he never really emerges as anything more than a nasty but unremarkable Francoist functionary. Nothing much really happens. Nothing much is changed or resolved. There are hints and suggestions of dark things to come, but it is all really a matter of 'come back for the next thrilling episode' (and bring your money). I very much doubt that I will.
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The Prisoner of Heaven
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Paperback - 11 April 2013)
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