Prophecy is the second novel in the historical mystery series featuring Giordano Bruno. Bruno a scholar and former monk, having fled the inquisition in Italy is now in the pay of Elizabeth’s spymaster Francis Walsingham. Bruno is living at the French embassy – from where he passes information back to Walsingham.
1583 is a time of dark plots and superstitions. A rare astrological event has sparked talk of old prophecies of the end days. Mary Stuart’s supporters plot the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth I. A network of conspirators passes letters back and forth between the imprisoned Scots Queen and her loyal supporters. Walsingham needs Bruno to infiltrate the plotters urgently. When one of Elizabeth’s maids of honour is brutally murdered, an apparently occult symbol cut into her skin, Walsingham sets Bruno on the trail of the murderer.
Bruno’s investigations puts him in grave danger more than once – living in the French embassy alongside people who are deeply involved in the plots against the Queen, Bruno can never be sure who to trust. His friend John Dee, Elizabeth’s astrologer (like Bruno, and many other characters in this novel, Dee is another true historical figure) his cunning man Ned Kelley has foreseen the Queen’s death, so when a second girl with red hair like Elizabeth is found dead, Dee’s household is placed under some suspicion. As Bruno rubs shoulders with men of ambition and high birth such as Lord Henry Howard, the French ambassador and his conniving wife, the plots thicken and for a man of foreign birth in these times he is constantly at a disadvantage.
I don’t want to give away any more of the plot – but suffice to say – it fairy flies along. Like its predecessor Heresy, Prophecy is a fantastic piece of historical escapism, at over 400 pages; I found the novel a fast and engrossing read. All the sights sounds and dangers of Tudor London rise up off the page – the dark waters of the Thames, the dark narrow crowded streets, bawdy taverns alongside the hush of the magnificent library of John Dee. The setting is brilliantly re-created, and I loved how so many real historical figures were woven into the intricate story. Prophecy is of course a work of fiction – so I don’t think it matters whether any of these people met in life or not – we may never know if they did, but the interactions and tensions between the various characters are really well done. I like Giordano Bruno as a character, he is a little bit bumbling at times bless him, and makes mistakes – as do we all, but he is a more moderate man than many of his friends and enemies and is therefore a really likeable character.
S J Parris has given readers an enthralling series of Tudor mysteries to rival C J Sansom. Readers who like historical mysteries will love this series, especially Tudor enthusiasts like me – I don’t think it is necessary to have read the first book before this one – although Heresy is one I would also recommend – as this novel would happily stand alone. I will no doubt be seeking out a copy of the third novel in this series at some point.
Released 3 yrs ago (9/29/2012 UTC) at SlackSpace OBCZ in Colchester, Essex United Kingdom
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