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The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman

The Bones of Avalon (edition 2010)

by Phil Rickman

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2131054,782 (3.41)15
Title:The Bones of Avalon
Authors:Phil Rickman (Author)
Info:Corvus (2010), London, Hardcover, 435p.
Collections:Your library, eBooks, To read, Buy and Get 2011, Unread, Readable
Tags:elizabeth tudor, england, 1500s, glastonbury, avalon, king arthur, john dee, fiction

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The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman



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It is 1560 and Elizabeth I has only recently come to the throne; there are already plots against her and Dr John Dee, astrologer and mathematician, is sent to Glastonbury to find the bones of Arthur. While he is there a man is murdered.

I did like this and John Dee is an unusual and likeable protagonist. The picture of medieval Glastonbury after the dissolution of its monastery is very good. The other characters were interesting and I enjoyed the story. But somehow the whole isn't as good as its parts and this wasn't a book that lived up to my expectations. Maybe the fault is with me. ( )
2 vote calm | Mar 14, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this book, it reminded me of the C J Sansom books about Shardlake.
It was the first book that I have come across Dr John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer, mathematician, scientist and all round guru. She sends him to Glastonbury to find the bones of King Arthur, which was meant to prove that she was in fact the rightful Queen of England. I may have missed something in the reading but I wasn't quite sure how or why! but the story was exciting and mysterious at the same time.
A grizzely murder, witch hunts and some very peculiar people are met along the way! A very good read indeed. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Jan 3, 2013 |
Wish I hadn't pressed on with this book to the end - what a waste of nearly a week's reading.

The content is a confused mixture of all the over-used stories associated with Glastonbury: Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, the thorn tree, the holy grail (cup or spirit), the landscaping of Avalon as a purported mirror to the heavens, Arthur and the Arthurian legends - including Morgan le Fay, the sword in the lake, Merlin, and THE BONES OF ARTHUR! Also dragged in for good measure is the queen’s grandfather Henry VII and his early endeavour to validate his assumption of the crown by drawing on old Welsh legends of kingship. And Nostradamus, together with his baffling so-called prophecies and his political role in the French and English court. I began to wonder what other irrelevant historical happenings and figures Rickman could draw into the increasingly muddled web he was attempting to create as a means of selling this story.

This tale obviously set out to be ‘a mystery’ and Rickman has done his best to conjure up an atmosphere of secrecy and shadow through the writing and language used. However, this did not do it for me - I found it laboured , forced and artificial … a poor attempt at creating a covert and cryptic mood of threat and fear.

As for the two main characters, Dudley was out of the plot for the most part being confined to his sick room, his only function seemingly to add historical probity and as a means of introducing the healer Nel to the plot. Dr Dee was the unlikely detective and the only character that came across as having any real substance.

The action - if it could be called so - was disordered, confused and chaotic: I suppose to give additional support to the equally unsubtle use of language. It dragged itself out to the eventual denouement which was as unbelievable and undramatic as the previous 400 plus pages. ( )
  eas | May 17, 2012 |
An interesting idea through dragged out to almost painful lengths!
The basic plot revolves around a visit by Robert Dudley, "favourite" of Queen Elizabeth, and Dr John Dee, her astrological counsellor, to Glastonbury in search of any remnants of the former shrine to Arhtur, dismantled and dispersed during the reign of Henry VIII. After the religious upheavals following the break from Rome, the short Protestant-dominated reign of Edward VI and then the catholic backlash during the reign of Mary the inhabitants of Glastonbury are all wary of strangers, and reluctant to lay bare their actual beliefs. However, soon after Dudley and Dee arrive a spate of horrific murders begins, and the mysterious Nel Borrow (doctor or witch) plies her art before beignarrested and dragged off to face the Bristol Assizes. But not before she captures the heart of the previously cold John Dee.
The book seems to be backed by comprehensive research of the prevailing beliefs of the time, but it didn't half drag in parts! The plot and the characters were sounds, but not substantial enough to support this lengthy book. If it had been 100 pages shorter it might have been far stronger. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Feb 6, 2012 |
Wow! Phil Rickman does such a great job on this book. I loved it. What a winning combination of fact, fiction, mystery, magic, religion and intrigue. All told during the beginning of Queen Elizabeth I's reign and her search for authenticity of the Tudor line.

Dr. John Dee is a most developed, delightful and truly human central character, with real talents, brains, and yes, failings.
Even Robert Dudley, of whom so much is written, comes to life.

Never a favorite of The King Arthur tale, I most admire how Rickman ties it into the central thrust of the action. Namely, the search in Avalon for King Arthur's bones and the Holy Grail. Seeing how this all evolves is a treat worth having.

It will take me a while to get over this book meaning it sets such a high mark for other books to try to follow. I hope that this is not the last we will see of John Dee. I will do my best to see if a sequel arises. And, I do not plan to miss it. ( )
  Travis1259 | Jan 2, 2012 |
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Religious strife, Glastonbury legends, the bones of King Arthur and the curse of the Tudors - can astrologer John Dee help the young Queen Elizabeth to avoid it?

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