HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Heresy by S. J. Parris
Loading...

Heresy (2010)

by S. J. Parris

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7027913,505 (3.55)89
Recently added byMaggieFlo, sunset_x_cocktail, private library, LindaRoberts, kathryn.winz, mcmahonc, pcollins
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 89 mentions

English (77)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Heresy is a historical novel that follows a period in the life of Giordano Bruno, an ex-monk who has developed a reputation as a philosopher and gained status through his relationship with King Henri III of France. This book covers a time he spent at Oxford in England. He's been brought to the university to debate with the head of the school, Rector Underhill. But while Bruno is at Oxford a number of brutal murders occur and he is recruited by Underhill to look into the crimes.

The book is interesting because it covers the period in English history after the Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church, but does not look at that time through the point of view of the monarchy. Instead it focuses on how the conflict between the two churches affects the students and faculty at Oxford. There's violence, deception, and quite a few compromised values.

The problem with putting historical characters in a fictional environment is that the author has to develop personalities for the characters while remaining true to the real people. In this case, the characters suffer because they lack strong emotions. Everyone in the book, with the exception of Bruno and his well-connected friend, Philip Sydney, seems to be one dimensional and self-serving. This was a time when people believed that choosing the wrong side would be the same as denying God. Yet there was little passion shown in their choices. The rector has a beautiful daughter named Sophia whom everyone wants to protect, but the only romantic relationship is talked about rather than shown and also lacks passion.

The decisions the characters make often seem abrupt and without rationalization. There's a gate keeper who helps Bruno without any explanation as to why he's decided to trust a stranger over the people he knows and works for. And Rector Underhill's decision to ask Bruno to investigate the crimes also seems out of the blue.

Yet, despite the issues I mentioned, I enjoyed the novel. The subject matter is fascinating and the mystery works well. It's a good read for people who enjoy historical fiction.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | May 18, 2014 |
I found this book very disappointing. It could have been so good!

The basic premise is certainly enticing. Giordano Bruno is a prime example of the Renaissance Man - scientist, literary lion and a dab hand with a dagger should the need arise, he is also a former, or more accurately, a disgraced and unfrocked monk ho has pulled off the startling feat of being excommunicated by the Catholic church and deemed a heretic by the Calvinists. Having fled from his monastery to escape the Inquisition he wends his worried way through Europe, ending up in England. There he is recruited by Queen Elizabeth's feted spymaster Lord Walsingham.

All this sets a scene crying out for a rattling good story, and that is where Parris lets us down. The novel is far too long and moves with geological slowness - I have seen more action from the concrete cows that abound around Milton Keynes. When we first meet Bruno he is hiding in a monastic privy into which he throws the proscribed tome that he was reading. If I had had access to a suitably accommodating cludgie beyond risk of blockage I would have followed his example with this one! ( )
  Eyejaybee | Feb 15, 2014 |
On the run from the Inquisition, Giordano Bruno arrives in Elizabeth I's England as a pet philosopher of the King of France. On his way to Oxford to take part in a formal disputation in defence of the Copernican system, he is recruited by Walsingham to act as a spy to check up on Catholic sympathisers in Oxford. On his first night in Lincoln college, one of the Fellows of the college is killed by a wolfhound in a locked garden. The college authorities try to cover up the murder pretending that it was simply an accident involving a stray, but Bruno is not so sure. And then more mutilated bodies start turning up.

Very atmospheric look at the seamy side of Elizabethan England, fraught with mutual suspicion and fear. As all I knew about Giordano Bruno was that he was burnt as a heretic and believed that the stars were suns with planetary systems, I would have liked to see an author's afterword giving details of the historical background. ( )
1 vote Robertgreaves | Feb 5, 2014 |
I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped to. Since the primary character, Giordano Bruno was based on a real Jesuit monk who believed in the Copernicus model of the solar system and was excommunicated because of that, I was looking forward to a mystery involving the science but instead it turned to the intrigue of hidden Catholics and plots within plots.

As such, I laboriously plowed through descriptions of the school, libraries, dark, rainy nights, and some really gruesome murders staged to apparently duplicate deaths of Catholic saints. No orbiting planets in sight except for one brief, rudely interrupted debate where the opposition offered no new arguments against the theory.

I would have enjoyed this book more if I was interested in the Catholic/Protestant struggles. ( )
  mamzel | Sep 29, 2013 |
Not my favorite book, but good if you are a fan of historical mysteries. ( )
  alyson | Aug 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
The outer door was thrown open with a crash that resounded along the passage and the floorboards shook with the purposeful marching of several pairs of feet.
Quotations
Playing politics with the lives of others was part of the path to advancement, but that, as I was just beginning to understand, was the real heresy.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Fugitive Italian monk Giordano Bruno, on the run from the Holy Roman Inquisition in 1583, is recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster for Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, to infiltrate the underground Catholic network at Oxford to gather information about a plot to overthrow the queen, but his mission is derailed when a murder occurs just outside his window.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385531281, Hardcover)

Edward Rutherfurd Reviews Heresy

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, England, and educated at Cambridge University and Stanford University in California. He is the bestselling author of Sarum, Russka, London, The Forest, and the companion novels, The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland. His most recent novel, New York, was published in 2009. Read Rutherfurd's guest review of Heresy:

With Heresy, S.J. Parris has constructed a splendid, unputdownable whodunnit.

In 1583, England was approaching one of the greatest crises in its history. Queen Elizabeth, excommunicated by the Pope for her refusal to return the Church of England to Rome, was under threat from all the Catholic powers. Her spymaster Francis Walsingham had his own army of informers searching for conspiracies against the English crown. Everyone was on the lookout for trouble.

Yet in May of that year, amongst the quiet and dreaming spires of Oxford University, a public debate took place that was nothing short of revolutionary.

On one side, John Underhill, an unpopular figure, forced upon Lincoln College as their Rector by his powerful patron the Earl of Leicester. On the other, Giordano Bruno, a wandering Italian scholar-monk, in trouble with the Inquisition, and in the story (and probably in fact) serving Walsingham as an anti-Catholic informer.

But what is truly amazing about Bruno is that he believed not like Copernicus and Galileo that the Sun and not the Earth was the center of the universe, but that the cosmos did not have a center at all. The stars in the sky, he claimed, were other suns, seen from vast distances, quite likely with their own planets, in an infinite space. In short, this monk-philosopher was a modern man. Sadly, he lost the Oxford debate.

Against this well-researched background of real events Parris has added a few characters, including Underhill's lovely and educated daughter Sophia, whose presence in Lincoln College seems a happy invention. On the eve of the debate there is a murder in the college. Then another. And another. Sophia disappears. A Catholic conspiracy seems to be afoot. Also a romance. As the plot thickens, I was absolutely gripped, nor did I even guess at the ending until it came.

The descriptions of Elizabethan Oxford are wonderfully atmospheric and vivid. The characters are believable and sympathetic. The plot is fast-paced. But there is also a subtle message for us about the human condition. Just twice, the author allows her characters to make use of modern words--"paranoid" and "propaganda"--in their reported speech. This isn't a mistake. Parris knows exactly what she is doing. She is gently reminding us, almost subliminally, that Bruno and Sophia--and who knows how many other of our ancestors--were actually modern people like ourselves, with free minds, trapped in a dangerous medieval world. --Edward Rutherfurd

(Photo © Jeanne Masoero)

"Discovering Giordano Bruno: A Note on My Research" by S.J. Parris

I first encountered the character of Giordano Bruno when I was a student at the University of Cambridge writing a thesis about the influence of occult philosophy on Renaissance literature. I was immediately captivated by his multi-faceted career (philosopher, proto-scientist, magician, and poet) and the drama of his life during years of exile on the run from the Inquisition around the courts of Europe. All the accounts I read of him suggested that he was extremely charismatic, the sort of person everyone wanted at their dinner parties, and that he possessed the ability to offend and charm in equal measure--in the course of a few years he went from fugitive heretic to close friend and confidant of kings and courtiers. But he was also a man fiercely committed to his ideas, even when that meant deliberately provoking the received wisdom of the day and courting a death sentence from the Pope.

At the time I thought Bruno would make an intriguing character for a novel, but other ideas intervened and for a while I forgot about him. More than ten years later, I was reading about the Wars of Religion in the late 16th century and came across his name again in a book that suggested that Bruno had added the profession of spy to his already crowded resumé, providing intelligence to Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spymaster, from inside the French embassy where Bruno lived during his time in England. At the time, the English court was rife with rumors of plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth with the blessing of the Pope and the backing of Europe’s two great Catholic powers, France and Spain, in order to replace her with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, thus bringing England back under the influence of Rome.

I’d always been fascinated by this complex period of history, where religious and personal allegiance was in a constant state of flux and no one, including the Queen and her Council, quite knew who to trust. When I discovered the theory that Bruno had been a spy, I knew I had the material for my story. I chose to begin the series with Bruno’s real-life visit to Oxford in the spring of 1583; it was on this trip that he came into contact with many of the influential figures of the court, including Philip Sidney. Bruno hated his time in Oxford and wrote very unfavorably of it; I tried to fill in the gaps and imagine what might have befallen him there to make him take against the university so vehemently.

Oxford (both the university and the town) provided a perfect setting for my novel. It was a significant hub for clandestine Catholic activity during the 1580s and 1590s, and an Oxford college is a closed community, the perfect setting for the classic murder mystery. I’ve loved detective fiction since I was a teenager and wanted to try my hand at writing one of my own. I spent a bit of time in Oxford, and I was shown around Lincoln College by the present Rector. Fortunately the late sixteenth century left behind a rich trove of documents and records, so there are a number of very thorough biographies and histories of the period available, which made it very easy to research.

I hope you enjoy reading Heresy as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it. --S.J. Parris

(Photo © Chris Perceval)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:31 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

England 1583. A country awash with paranoia and conspiracy, but a safe haven for a radical monk on the run. Giordano Bruno, with his theories of astronomy and extraterrestrial life, has fled the Inquisition for the court of Elizabeth I.

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
11 avail.
72 wanted
7 pay5 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.55)
0.5
1 6
1.5
2 15
2.5 6
3 48
3.5 32
4 83
4.5 6
5 21

Audible.com

Four editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Heresy by S. J. Parris was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,118,293 books! | Top bar: Always visible