Top positive review
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The history of science brought to life - fascinating!
on 25 February 2012
This historical novel, the middle of "The Sky's Dark Labyrinth" trilogy, about man's understanding of the universe is a fascinating read. The first one The Sky's Dark Labyrinth (The Sky's Dark Labyrinth Trilogy, Book 1) is about Galileo, and the final instalment will be about Einstein. Don't be put off this if you haven't read the first one as it works well as a stand-alone novel. Set in the late 17th century, this episode is about the efforts of Newton, Halley and Hooke to explain the movement of the planets and moons in the solar system. However, don't for one minute think that means it's going to be dry with lots of complicated equations. Far from it. What Stuart Clark does very successfully here is to show the very human struggles at the heart of such an endeavour: the professional rivalries, the political and religious challenges. At times, it reads almost like a thriller! The historical figures portrayed here are shown as flawed individuals, but brave too, being prepared to challenge conventional wisdom, even at great personal cost. Newton's theory of gravity seems harmless enough today, but in the late 17th century, the idea that planets and moons so far apart and not touching could move one another was bordering on heresy, and in other areas too, these men dabbled in dangerous ideas.
This is a good read, and makes a change from the subject matter of most historical novels. Meticulously researched, it is both informative and entertaining, and should certainly help to bring the history of science to a wider audience. I shall definitely be reading the other two books in this series.