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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon 26 November 2016
I just love this series of five (currently) books by S J Paris. Giordano Bruno is our unlikely hero working as a spy in ever more dangerous situations. I won't spoil things by giving away the plot. But I would strongly advise you read this series in the correct order - it makes following everything so much easier and an even more compelling read. Once I start one these books, I can't put it down. Its a brilliant read. If you like the "Shardlake" series by C J Sansom, you'll love these too. Highly recommended.
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on 14 April 2017
I confess at the outset that I like historical novels. Like many others, this book is essentially a murder / mystery whodunit set in Elisabethan England. The author's take on the conflict between Elisabeth and Mary Queen of Scots is refreshing and insightful. The central character - the detective - is an excommunicated monk who has become a philosopher and critic of accepted religious teaching. He is quite a convincing character. The plot is well spun, though it has no unique features. On the flyleaf of the book, it is suggested that the book will delight readers of S J Sansom and that is probably true, but having read all of Sansom's novels I would have to say that Ms Parris has written a "me too" book. The formula is the same, the style is very similar and it lacks originality She is obsessed with the use of the semi colon. Quite why this should be so eludes me. The elaborate plot proceeds slowly until a tumultuous cascade of events brings the book to an end in a tidy manner, but with the feeling that there is more to come. There is. I am now reading the second book of what has become a trilogy.
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Set in the late 16th century, SJ Parris's Heresy follows the travails of a novice English spy, Giordano Bruno, on his first mission - to hunt out a Catholic conspiracy at Oxford. The backdrop to the action is beautifully told, immersing the reader in a plausible version of the 16th century, with just enough unpleasant gore to give an authentic feel to an era of horrors without lapsing into horror for the sake of horror.

Bruno himself is a real figure (and the subject of a highly acclaimed historical study by one of my lecturers at university - Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair). Sufficiently little is known about Bruno's actual life that the events of the book do not feel like they are bending history unduly. Indeed, it's more a case that much care seems to have been taken to make events and characters as plausible as possible within the confines of creating a multi-murder mystery.

The story is told through the eyes of Bruno and he quite often pauses to recount key plot points or questions to others (or even to himself). Although at times this feels a little crudely forced, it is a smart way to ensure the reader keeps up with the complexity of the plot (and means it works particularly well as an audio book where you concentrate may come and go a little).

But as with this device, other parts of the book feel like they are written with just a little too much cliched inexperience. Bruno, for example, keeps on just happening to spot a scrap of evidence out of the corner of his eye which no-one else had seen.

Those are but minor flaws however in what is a great book that lives up to the quote on the cover: "it has everything - intrigue, mystery and excellent history".
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on 11 September 2014
This starts off very well and is overall pretty enjoyable – but there are some dreadful gaffes. The worst one is when our 16th century protagonist reflects that he was really enjoying the adrenalin rush! Adrenalin was discovered in 1900 (as it took me 2 seconds to confirm via Google). I kind of lost faith in the book at that point.
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on 27 January 2017
Very much enjoyed this, although I guessed the killer very early which slightly dampened my enjoyment. However, there were sufficient twists and turns to keep it suspenseful and intriguing. Great evocation of Elizabethan Oxford too.
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on 26 May 2015
excellent !! Very interesting and the characters are so real that you can't stop reading till the last page. Giordano Bruno is an italian Monk who left in Italy because the inquisition didn't like to see his open mind and his questions about the world and the planets.
Now he sis in England and Elizabth's realm is in danger. He will go to Oxford to enquire who is is plotting to kill Elizabeth ?
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on 27 May 2017
This is the second book of the collection I have read. It is just as good as book four full of wonderfully detail of 16th century life and intrigue. Bruno is a wonderful creation.
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on 21 February 2017
A very good read introducing the marvellous Dr Giordano Bruno of Nola. S J Parris has created the most wonderful character in whom it is easy to believe. A James Bond on the fourteenth century.
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on 7 June 2017
This is the 1st of SJ Parris's books introducing Giordano Bruno. A brilliant read , excellent plot and a dash of humour in this Elizabethan crime novel.
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on 5 June 2012
This was the first book I read on the Amazon Kindle App on my Ipad and I hope to read many more. It was a decent read. After the initial parts, story picks up speed. Also, after the first few chapters I could not help seeing a strong influence of 'The Name of the Rose' (Umberto Eco) on the book.

.......spoiler alert......
The story is about an philosopher in exile from the Roman Catholic Church, arriving in Oxford in search of higher knowldege from forbidden books, lands in the middle of the Catholic/Protestant tension in England. He solves some murders at Oxford and finds a heretic priest, plotting for the English mission.
.........................
I have always loved such historical thrillers and finished this book in one sitting. The author does have the knack to urge you to turn the page, even though it is not as exciting as Dan Brown's books in terms of the research involved. It does create an atmosphere of medieval England and even things like the English weather have added to the charm.

However, the hero is shown as an immature character for all his experience. In fact the murders are solved not by his wit or skill, but by the fortunate turn of events. There also seems to be a lack of focus on the plot, since the purpose of the hero in the story seems to be sliding away from what was initially intended.
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