HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

1610: A Sundial In A Grave (2003)

by Mary Gentle

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5511937,658 (3.55)23
Four hundred years ago, Hermetic magic is about to transform into science: 1610 is the year when everything could change. Robert Fludd, English physician and astrologer, wields the heritage of Doctor John Dee and Giordano Bruno to foretell the future. But Fludd doesn't like the centuries that he is predicting. So someone will have to change the future . . . Valentin Rochefort, duellist, down-at-heels aristocrat and spy for the Duc de Sully, France's powerful finance minister, has troubles of his own, thank you very much - not the least of which is Dariole, a young man of his acquaintance who is (in Rochefort's opinion) lust walking on legs - and as irresponsible as an alley-cat. The last thing Rochefort needs is a mad English astrologer in his life. Continental Europe is briefly at peace, but Henri IV of France is planning to invade the German principalities. In England, only 5 years earlier, conspirators nearly succeeded in blowing up King James and his Parliament. The seeds of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War are visibly being sown . . . For a man of no conscience, Rochefort is about to find himself caught between loyalty, love, and blackmail, between kings, queens, politicians and Rosicrucians - and the woman he has, unknowingly, crossed land and sea to meet.… (more)
Loading...

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

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 23 mentions

English (17)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
OK, this wasn't quite as riveting as I remembered it on rereading it but I'm not reducing the score as some of the story actually felt quire new (though it's been a long while since it was last reread). Can history be calculated in advance? And, if so, what are the moral responsibilities of those who know of these techniques? Those questions lie at the heart of the story as the spy Rochefort, and his tormentor/lover Dariole travel through early 1600s Europe and Japan in search of the enigmatic Robert Flood. Modern theory would tend to say that it is impossible to give a definitive answer to the possibility of calculating future conditions but this book allows for the possibility and Rochefort gradually finds himself acknowledging that he has a duty to that ill-defined future - inaction is it's own sort of action and not without it's own set of consequences.

The main problem I had with this book this time was its length and wordiness to no real effect ( )
  JohnFair | May 12, 2019 |
I bought this book fifteen years ago. And it has sat unread on my bookshelves ever since. Despite the fact I’m a big fan of Gentle’s fiction. But. She writes such big novels. 1610: Sundial in a Grave is 594pp! And my copy is the hardback edition. It must weigh about ten kilos. (Slight exaggeration.) I am a big fan of brevity (see the Apollo Quartet…), but I also recognise the appeal of longer works. And with Gentle you know you’re certainly getting your money’s worth. Her research is incredible. 1610: Sundial in a Grave is, like Ash: A Secret History, a series of nested narratives, with the innermost one providing the bulk of the contents. An “introduction” describes how the author (unnamed, but surely Gentle herself) was as a child a big fan of a particular (invented) Dumas-esque book, and was surprised to learn it was based on real historical figures. There then follows a fragment of a document by Robert Fludd, a Jacobean occult philosopher and mathematician (like the earlier Dr John Dee), which is described as one of several documents found with the memoirs of Rochefort. And it is Rochefort’s memoirs which form the main narrative of 1610: Sundial in a Grave. The disgraced son of the retired Marshal of France, Rochefort is responsible for the assassination of Henri IV, at the instigation of Henri’s wife Marie de Medici, although he had been blackmailed into it and had planned for it to fail as his master, the Duc de Sully, wanted… But Rochefort ends up fleeing France, knowing there are plenty of people who want his head. Including hothead duellist Dariole, who had been challenging Rochefort for months. All of which leads to Rochefort on a Normandy beach fighting Dariole, rescuing Saburo, the sole survivor of a Japanese mission to King James I, taking ship to England with both, becoming embroiled in the plot by Robert Fludd to assassinate James I, foiling that plot, and… It’s all about the mathematics invented by Bruno Giordano – a real historical figure who appears in, and inspired, Gentle’s White Crow novels – which is capable of predicting the future, especially a comet due to obliterate life on Earth in the twenty-first century (yes, please). As well as numerous events before that cataclysm. Rochefort and Dariole are great characters, not that much different from White Crow and Casaubon (and yes, Dariole’s secret was pretty obvious right from the start) inasmuch as they’re both almost too good to be true. There’s a unexpected strain of BDSM throughout the novel – the relationship between Rochefort and Dariole is predicated on it – but if anything it adds depth to their interactions. The historical detail is, unsurprisingly, hugely convincing. Gentle does historical filth and smells extremely well. At 594pp, 1610: Sundial in a Grave is not a short book, but it doesn’t feel like it overstays its welcome. Surprisingly, the book ends on a happy note, although there’s a cunning slingshot inasmuch as it suggests an origin, and a purpose, for the Rosicrucians, which ties into the whole occult mathematics mythos. I thought the book excellent, and I’m only sorry I didn’t read it sooner. And I really do need to read two other books by Gentle I own which I’ve yet to read. ( )
  iansales | Nov 10, 2018 |
I have a mixed relationship with the author Mary Gentle, having now read two of her books: Ilario, long before I started this blog, and Black Opera some years ago. 1610 has been sitting on my shelf for over a year and, in the course of a warm, sunny weekend, I decided to give it a go. A sexual assault in the first few chapters gave me pause, but I pressed on regardless and soon found myself in the midst of a very enjoyable swashbuckler, populated with spies, rogues, kings, mathematicians and cross-dressing swordsmen – and taking in the France of Marie de’ Medici, the England of James I and, unexpectedly, Japan in the years before the Sukoku Edict closed its borders. I should stress that this isn’t a fantasy, but a rollicking historical adventure with a few hints of the mystical: best described, perhaps, as The Three Musketeers with added esoterica...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2018/06/12/1610-a-sundial-in-a-grave-mary-gentle/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Jun 12, 2018 |
This book sort of simmers behind my memory, and I've attributed scenes from it to other books, mostly [[Ellen Kushner]]'s [Swordspoint]/[Privilege of the Sword], but it remains completely itself, though it seems much more embedded in the past of historic fantasy literature than it actually is.
A weird brew for a rosy ending. ( )
  quondame | Dec 28, 2017 |
Quite enjoyable. Mary Gentle is better know for science fiction novels; this is an alternate history (not very alternate, though). The protagonist (and narrator; the book is presented as an edition of his memoirs) is Valentin Rochefort, who will be recognized as the Cardinal’s chief instrument in The Three Musketeers. The book is set well before Rochefort’s initial encounter with D’Artagnan, and Rochefort turn out to have a somewhat different personality than that presented by Dumas. (To be fair, if your mental image of Rochefort is created by movies, you might note that in the book Rochefort and D’Artagnan end up as friends).


I can’t give too many spoilers, but a Japanese samurai and a young duelist end up in the mix, there are lots of delightful plot twists, and the historical characters (including Henri IV, James I, the Duc de Sully, and Robert Cecil) are all well portrayed. There is a little less action and more mental dialogue than I would like, and Arabella Stuart seem to be dropped into the novel just so the author can prove she knows who she was. Nevertheless, I stayed up to 2:30 to finish this one.
( )
  setnahkt | Dec 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (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.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Dean, my first reader; without whom, nothing.
First words
Translator's Foreword. It's about sex, and cruelty, and forgiveness.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Four hundred years ago, Hermetic magic is about to transform into science: 1610 is the year when everything could change. Robert Fludd, English physician and astrologer, wields the heritage of Doctor John Dee and Giordano Bruno to foretell the future. But Fludd doesn't like the centuries that he is predicting. So someone will have to change the future . . . Valentin Rochefort, duellist, down-at-heels aristocrat and spy for the Duc de Sully, France's powerful finance minister, has troubles of his own, thank you very much - not the least of which is Dariole, a young man of his acquaintance who is (in Rochefort's opinion) lust walking on legs - and as irresponsible as an alley-cat. The last thing Rochefort needs is a mad English astrologer in his life. Continental Europe is briefly at peace, but Henri IV of France is planning to invade the German principalities. In England, only 5 years earlier, conspirators nearly succeeded in blowing up King James and his Parliament. The seeds of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War are visibly being sown . . . For a man of no conscience, Rochefort is about to find himself caught between loyalty, love, and blackmail, between kings, queens, politicians and Rosicrucians - and the woman he has, unknowingly, crossed land and sea to meet.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.55)
0.5
1 3
1.5
2 4
2.5 5
3 27
3.5 12
4 33
4.5 5
5 10

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 180,021,547 books! | Top bar: Always visible