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on 6 May 2014
I enjoyed the setting, the story line, the characters and suspense. The style is exciting and I wanted to complete the book.
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on 4 July 2013
Having plodded through the first turgid instalment I thought that this MUST be better.....
.... but no ...... Dee and virtually all the other characters are dull, the plotting is leaden and I really wonder how ,... or why, for that matter I persisted with it.
Chop a third of it out, make at least one or two characters that you can empathise with and provide something interesting please.....
Just finished the last of the Clarenceux series..... and it knocks this into a cocked hat....
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on 3 February 2015
Fantastic book.
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on 17 November 2014
Always enjoy Phil Rickman's books, another great story.
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on 20 February 2015
Please read my review on the Bones of Avalon, also by the same author. This is more of the same infantile-adventure-tosh. The Heresy of Dr Dee is set during the reign of Elizabeth I. It's the second book revolving around Phil Rickman's haplessly annoying Dr. Dee. Instead of seeking King Arthur's bones, this time the story sees him off on another Enid-Blyton-esque adventure, initially with his friend Robert Dudley (who became 1st Earl of Leicester). Dudley is portrayed as a type of brooding, womanising rock-star aristocrat, whose personality pulses with violence just beneath the skin whilst Dee is cast in the role of a near-penniless mystically-educated halfwit. Johnny Dee and Robby Dudley always seem to play together and so here their latest adventure witnesses them searching a town on the Anglo-Welsh border, looking for a particular 'shewstone' (an archaic term meaning a magic (?) crystal ball used to 'scry' or perceive ' the 'hidden' and summon spirits and angels, etc.). Dee has to deal with Dudley's disappearance, his own confusions about life (this one and the next) ethnic predjudices, post-Marion religious fears, history repeating itself, con-artists (who you'll find yourself rooting for), simmering native violence, a one-eyed 'hero,' a Dr Dee sexual mini adventure (easily forgotten), a dubious, perhaps rigged courtroom drama (that wasn't dramatic), a murder plot that might or might not involve Robert Dudley's wife Amy and a young half-mad boy who possesses, apparently, genuine divining skills. To be fair, the writing style was ever so slightly more fluid than Bones of Avalon but there was simply no real story. Nothing existed in the yarn that engaged the reader's interest. Even though the author offers a plethora of underwhelming two-dimensional characters (all who would have done Enid Blyton very proud), by the time I finished it I could almost see Johnny Dee and Robby Dudley returning home, safe and sound, just in time to wash their hands before having a scrummy tea - no doubt complete with ham rolls and jam tarts. There was precious little 'dark heresy' to redeem this sad little meandering tale that ultimately, apart from the English-Welsh border, went nowhere at all. Save your money and borrow it or buy it second-hand if you must read it.
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on 30 October 2012
What I've always loved about Phil Rickman's story-telling is that special moment when there's a tectonic shift halfway through the tale and the book you think you're reading transforms into something else entirely. It's like being subjected to a dramatic change in the weather. Dark clouds scud across the sun, the wind rises from nowhere, and you become aware you are standing in a subtly changed landscape. Lulled perceptions get jolted from their slumbering complacency as the dancers remove their masks and you realise you don't actually know who anyone really is or what their true role in things are. Not many writers are so adept at this covert deception as Rickman.
In The Heresy of Dr Dee, we're once more transported back to Elizabethan times and accompany Dee as he returns to the land of his birth seeking the Shewstone - a powerful scrying glass reputed to give the wielder access to the spirit realm and allow any would-be magician to acquire knowledge of enemy plots and schemes. As you would expect from any Phil Rickman novel - there is a heavy infusion of intrigue, suspense, violence, and cloaked mystery, all rounded off with a solid whiff of supernatural effluvium.
What more do you need to know? Look here, I'm not your personal book-taster. Go buy the bloody thing and find out for yourself.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 4 December 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I like quirky and different in historical novels, particularly detective/mystery novels. I really liked The Bones of Avalon, felt it had a lot of potential, and represented a new and different character in an increasing cluttered genre. I looked forward to the sequel to see how Dee (and Rickman) continued to negotiate the court politics and complex social intrigues and allegiances of Tudor England that was overseen by the mercurial Queen Elizabeth, the same court which was itself an artefact of the murderous reigns of both her father Henry VIII and half sister Queen Mary.

There are dark undercurrents in The Bones of Avalon and there are even darker ones in `Heresy' as the story unfolds. Did Earl Dudley engineer the death of his wife? It certainly provides a suitably complex, and authentic, backdrop to this story as Dee goes off to fulfil a task for the Queen accompanied by his recently widowed friend.

I really like the character of Dee and I'm beginning to become a big fan of Rickman's storytelling style. Rather like James Forester's Clarenceux trilogy the style is rich in description of life and events and requires reading (as opposed to skimming) to appreciate the book fully. Can't recommend this book enough, I hope that Rickman is able to continue the standard in future outings.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a big fan of Phil Rickman, and over the years have bought everything he's written. I had already read The Bones of Avalon the first in his series (I presume there will be more) involving Elizabeth's court astrologer Dr Dee and her court favourite Robert Dudley, so I gave this a go.
I have to say that while this is enjoyable, it's not as engaging as his Merrily series. Some of the writing about 'end time' 'the dead are rising' came across as over-wrought. It didn't quite ring true - though I know it's a familiar trope in many late mediaeval/Tudor adventure novels.

I still think Rickman writes them better than most, so I will continue to read them. But I would prefer another Merrily, or perhaps a more serious, stand-alone book about Dr Dee.

Having read it, it faded from memory pretty quickly. This could well be due to my age I suppose, but his books on Merrily stay in the mind much longer.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 27 October 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Dr John Dee - first introduced to us by Phil Rickman in The Bones of Avalon - continues his adventures in this complex and entertaining novel. Dee's friend Robert Dudley - one of Queen Elizabeth I's many favourites - needs to get away from court because his wife, Amy, has been found dead in suspicious circumstances. Both Dee and Dudley travel to the border between England and Wales where Dee was born; Dudley to get away from the rumours and Dee to fulfil a rash promise to the Queen herself.

John Dee is much more interested in learning about the hidden side of life - about magic, the supernatural and his current interest, scrying - than he is in getting involved in either local or national politics. But involved he is whether he likes it or not and both his life and Dudley's will be in danger before they can return to London.

I enjoyed this book very much though I struggled to unravel the politics. But then politics in the age of Elizabeth I was complex and allegiances and loyalties changed by the minute and it was virtually impossible to tell whom you could trust. I enjoyed Dee's quest to find the Shewstone (crystal ball to the uninitiated) and liked the characters he encountered - especially the Bishop of Hereford. I also liked Anna Ceddol and thought she was an interesting person. Dudley was well drawn too and I felt his character came over very well and corresponded with all I've read about the real man.

I really like John Dee as a character especially his sense of humour. I thought his sense of confusion at being always one step behind in his understanding of the politics was very well drawn. I think this is a book which will repay a second reading and I'm sure I will see things in it the second time around that I missed on first reading. If you enjoyed The Bones of Avalon I'm sure you will enjoy this second book in the series.
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on 14 February 2013
The Bones of Avalon, introducing the Elizabethan court mystic and astrologer John Dee, was set firmly in the Somerset Levels and introduced us to the likeable character and his friend Lord Robert Dudley, favourite of the Queen. This time we see a somewhat disillusioned and impoverished Dr Dee travelling out to the Welsh Borders in search of a coveted `shewstone' (or scrying crystal), and thus far all seems pretty straightforward. However, nothing is quite as it seems in a Rickman novel and soon Dee and Dudley - rumoured to have murdered his wife and given the Queen a child - become drawn into a show trial for a local criminal with a dangerous glamour and staggeringly horrifying reputation. Is the trial all it seems, and for whose benefit is it being played out? Can the locals, or even the English, be trusted? Political and social cultures clash and merge along the border, that most mysterious of places; allegiances are formed and seemingly lost. Danger and a growing sense of menace and darkness pervade the novel as it moves deeper into the Welsh landscape. An abandoned holy well bearing the neglected statue of the Virgin, but of older and pagan origin, forms a memorable anchor around which revolve the unearthing of emasculated bodies, a priest who sees the devil's work in all he cannot explain, and the presence of a persecuted young woman whose gifted but mentally damaged brother can `find things' with apparent ease and no earthly guidance. Drawn to these captivating outcasts Dee discovers he wants to know more about his own Welsh ancestry and is forced to examine his own spiritual and political beliefs. And at the height of the action, Dudley suddenly disappears... Add into the mix the usual richly drawn characterizations of persons good and not so good, a flawlessly fluent writing style, the author's instinctive feel for the spirit of place and landscape, and some devious twists in the plot and we have classic Rickman fare - intelligent storyline, scrupulous research, rounded characterization and a building tension ending in one of the best final sentences I've read in some time. As with the first Dee book, repeated reading will be rewarded.
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