The Sky's Dark Labyrinth (Sky's Dark Labyrinth Trilogy) Hardcover – 1 May 2011
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This book is a moving and eye-opening story of brilliance and bravery, and the fight against bigotry and closed-mindedness. --The Daily Mail
Puts fictional flesh on the bones of Kepler s life and times to enjoyable effect ...The Sky s Dark Labyrinth deserves a broad readership. --Nature
'Clark spins a fascinating, pell-mell tale of intrigue, ignorance and irrationality in a new Europe struggling to be born.' --The Globe and Mail
'Clark's exposition of the men in the midst of this time of upheaval leaves us wanting more. Luckily for us, this is just the first in a trilogy about the mysteries of astronomy and the important players in its discoveries' --Canadian Blogspot
About the Author
Journalist, author and broadcaster, Stuart Clark has devoted his career to presenting the dynamic world of astronomy to the general public. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a former Vice Chair of the Association of British Science Writers. In 2000, UK daily newspaper The Independent placed him alongside Stephen Hawking and the Astronomer Royal, Professor Sir Martin Rees, as one of the 'stars' of British astrophysics teaching. He divides most of his time between writing books and writing for the European Space Agency in his capacity as senior editor for space science, alongside producing features for the BBC and many publications. He has written seventeen books to date, selling more than 250,000 copies worldwide, which have been translated into twelve languages so far. He regularly lectures throughout the UK and, increasingly, across the world. www.stuartclark.com
Top customer reviews
A scientist himself, Clark explains the quite complicated mathematics of Kepler's research into planetary orbits in a way that non-scientists can understand. This has been supplemented by a wealth of historical information about the conditions of life at this time: there has been a little bit of leeway in the chronology, but events like the trial of Kepler's mother for witchcraft are based on fact, and give a chilling picture of the superstition that still gripped Europe at this time, despite the many advances in science that were taking place. The complicated religious background perhaps needed a little more explanation: for instance the 'Utraquists' referred to in various places were followers of Jan Hus, the Bohemian reformer advocated the administration of communion in both kinds, bread and wine, against the Vatican instruction that the laity should receive the bread only.
I greatly enjoyed reading this book, filled with some fascinating characters, from the dissolute Rudolph II to Kepler's second wife, who provided much solace after the tragic death of his first epileptic wife, Barbara.
Stuart Clark uses his imagination to flesh out the details between the well-recorded major events and has crafted a fast-paced story interweaving the lives of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei. The two men had found evidence that could change the centuries old view about the universe at a time when it was not wise to challenge the religious status quo. Both risked death for their beliefs.
What I particularly like is Stuart Clark's account of the day-to-day detail of living in 17th century Europe. The sights, sounds, smells and colours of the streets, houses and inns make for fascinating reading. His vivid descriptions of street theatre, traders, architecture, clothing, family life and the tedium of travelling (and moving house) show us how these people really lived. This is what Kepler's and Galileo's days were like in between moments of mathematical and observational insight and this is what brings the novel to life.
Stuart Clark's style is eloquent and entertaining and with the story flitting between Rome, Prague and Florence (and wherever Kepler found himself next), there is no time to get bored as we chase the main characters around Europe.
I somehow expected the book to end with the deaths of Kepler and Galileo although these two events are noted in the Epilogue. Instead, Stuart Clark chose to leave the stories of both characters on relatively positive notes. I felt slightly cheated - but maybe I was just annoyed to get to the end of the book.
I have no idea if cardinals really were that scheming or whether Prague really was that smelly but it all makes for a good story. In short - The Sky's Dark Labyrinth is a damn good read!
This isn't your heaving bosoms type of historical fiction, this is the sort of fiction written about real characters in a hugely important time period. This is both highly entertaining, I couldn't put it down, and genuinely interesting.
This book would be a great present for those with a passing interest in physics (or it's history), but don't worry there are no complicated concepts or physics equations here. No knowledge of physics is necessary to get enjoyment from this book :)
The next book in the series, I believe, looks at Newton and his later discoveries. I can't wait for it!
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