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Black Opera by [Gentle, Mary]
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Black Opera Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Length: 689 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Book Description

An astonishing new historical epic fantasy from the author of ASH.

From the Inside Flap

Things are about to get interesting for Conrad Scalese. Interesting as in dangerous. He's a librettist, an atheist and a thinker, and it's just possible that his latest opera has created a miracle. But secular music isn't supposed to have such power, and the Church doesn't appreciate miracles being performed by the godless.

So when he's captured, handcuffed and interrogated by the Church it comes as no surprise. It comes as rather a bigger surprise when he's whisked from his captors' arms and delivered to an audience with the King of the Two Sicilies, the most powerful man on the island . . .

. . . who is in need of an Opera writer, and especially of one who can instigate miracles. A terrible conspiracy has been uncovered which threatens the entire world. The King needs a miracle to stop it - and he has a plan: to put on a full-scale Opera. In six weeks. When it hasn't been written, cast or announced yet. If they are to succeed, Conrad and his company must deal with a rival opera, traitors, volcanoes, a world-wide conspiracy, massive egos, long-lost lovers, the Returned Dead, recalcitrant set-designers and a certain deposed Emperor living on Elba. Conrad would be a fool to take on an impossible job.

But this is Napoli, the heart of the opera world, and the show isn't over while there's a singer alive . . .

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2230 KB
  • Print Length: 689 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (18 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008BD9PGI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #359,178 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mary Gentle's world must be very different from mine. She reports back from a glorious parallel universe where places have the same names and some of the history seems the same... but then... not quite - and the world turns on its head - and you find yourself drawn into her characters lives as if they were.. Real? Imaginary? Dreams? Nightmares?

I think I have read everything she has written - and (of course) I think that Ashe was her master-work - probably the best mix of alternate history, science magic and just plain strangeness... so what have we here with "Black Opera"?

Set in a Napoleonic Sicily (which appears to own the south of Italy), we have a King Ferdinand who has a serious problem to solve - a group of (mad) revolutionaries wish to stop the world... using the power of Opera. So, obviously, he decides to have his own Opera to let the world continue as it is.

Mix this with the most glorious character building, amazingly detailed scenes in Naples and around, and (APOLOGY: I don't like Opera) loads of detail about how to write, score, arrange and organise an Opera (CONFESSION: After this book I am seriously considering giving Opera a second chance...).

Love it - the story zooms along (perhaps not as complex as Ashe [and no golems :-( ]) but we have all the trademarks of Mary gentle's writing - elegant prose, interesting characters, great action - and plenty of fun!

And you get a terrific ending which, I suspect, is Mary Gentle's philosophy - and a very splendid, thoughtful, humanistic one it is too.

BRILLIANT! Buy yourself a copy now!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First and foremost this is a magnificent story if not quite a perfect novel Trends in fantasy fiction come and go ( I'm sure teeny-bopper vampires are well past their sell-by date ) but Mary Gentle for 30+ years has constantly produced a sucession of highly original SF and fantasy works An alternate 19th century history mainland Sicily (!!) is the setting of the tale and the basic premise is that the passion and power created by opera can produce large scale miracles Our hero Conrad Scalese is an atheist librettist , not the ideal person urgently required to produce such an opera at very short notice The major part of the book deals with every aspect of this and shows the depth of the author's research but although quite fascinating develops the plot at a very leisurely pace with little action But we do have a ghost ,an emerging romantic triangle and a host of characters to keep things going When the action does take off there is also all the passion and power anyone would want and 200 pages of volcanic excitement and some challenging thoughts on the existence of God !! M/s Gentle is kind to her characters ; the mens'roles especially are sympathetically written,though I found Conrad' transvestite young sister ,a throwback to an earlier novel , had little to do The ending is skilfully contrived I'm sure that as with almost every Gentle novel I will read this again and hope that the wait for the next one is considerably shorter
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought for a long time if I should read this book. The premise of the story appealed to me as I enjoy opera and sci-fi/fantasy books, but the reviews here on Amazon were not good. Oh, I should have trusted the reviews!
By the time I had read half the book, I was bored to death. The author has some good ideas but the writing is soooo boring.
The long descriptions of places and buildings are mostly unnecessary. The main protagonist keeps repeating the same ideas/sentences/words - maybe in an attempt to established his character but it simply doesn't work. The most important people of his life keep appearing every so often, although before their appearance they are never mentioned (how can they be so important at the first place then?). It's a cheap trick to move the action forward and nothing more than that. The same goes for all the plot twists. When the author decides to write a couple of pages on actual opera workings the book becomes interesting enough. Apart from that it's just a long slow description of things and appearances through the monotone of the protagonist.
The ending was a let down as well. All in all, don't make the same mistake as me, find another book to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of MG's work - really enjoyed Ash (even reading the weird "notes from the present" - the 2nd time of reading), Illario was pretty damn good, Grunts is excellent, her earlier work solid. I've been looking forward to Black Opera for a long time, and waited a while to get round to reading it because I didn't want to finish; it takes so long for the next book to arrive ;)

Black Opera is simply brilliant, it's a fantastic piece of writing, exciting, interesting and very moving. I'm not easily moved by fiction - explode whole worlds, kill characters in awful ways, feed innocent towns-people to monsters, whatever. The orcs of "Grunts" did horrid things for laughs, loved it. Throwing the children into the sea at the beginning didn't bother me. But by the end of this book the power of Opera was flowing through me, carrying me along as much as the characters were. The plot kept going, the characters were swept by events they had little control over, everything kept happening and I had to keep reading. As much as I wanted to "ration" the number of pages I read at time, it was almost impossible, the need to stay with them was unbelievable.

This is Mary Gentle's finest work, well worth waiting for. I cannot imagine how she will top this but I look forward to finding out.
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