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A Sundial in a Grave: 1610: A Novel by Mary…
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A Sundial in a Grave: 1610: A Novel (original 2003; edition 2005)

by Mary Gentle

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5231727,834 (3.56)18
Member:setnahkt
Title:A Sundial in a Grave: 1610: A Novel
Authors:Mary Gentle
Info:Harper Paperbacks (2005), Paperback, 688 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:adventure, england, historical novel, stuart, three musketeers, france

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1610: A Sundial In A Grave by Mary Gentle (2003)

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English (16)  French (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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 |
Mary Gentle is definitely one of my favorite authors. In "1610," she continues with some of the themes that run through much of her work – historical settings, swordswomen, and hermetic magic.

Rochefort is loyal man to the Duc Sully, a member of the court of France. But when Marie de Medici embroils the unwilling Rochefort in her conspiracy to kill her husband the King – and that assassination attempt is unexpectedly successful – Rochefort must flee the country, also half-unwillingly bringing along the headstrong young duelist Dariole (whom he can't decide if he would rather kill or ravish), and soon acquiring a shipwrecked Japanese ambassador/samurai, Saburo. However, practically no sooner have the unlikely trio assembled themselves in England, that a separate group of conspirators want to compel Rochefort to assist in yet another regicide – this time that of King James. And this conspiracy, headed by the mysterious Doctor Fludd, and backed by the Crown Prince, seems much more insidiously dangerous – because the Doctor seems able to truly divine the future through his mathematical equations. And the future seen through these equations shows that much more than the fate of a kingdom may rest on the outcome of this conspiracy.

Although Gentle sets up a situation that would seemingly be very unlikely in the 17th century, her well-researched details make her theories at least seem possible. The device of having the book purport to be a computer-reconstructed version of a damaged manuscript works well, also. And with the addition of an awfully sweet sadomasochistic love story... well, I'd have to say that I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves reading Alexandre Dumas, but can't help wishing for more spicy bits... ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This novel presents itself as a true story, the memoirs of a Renaissance spy and duelist named Valentin Rochefort. Valentin begins the year 1610 in France, but when he accidentally assassinates King Henri IV, he’s forced to flee the country. Along the way, he joins forces with Dariole, a boy with rapier skills to rival his own, and a Japanese ambassador to the English court. The three of them travel to England together, where Valentin is roped into another assassination plot, this time against King James I. Now Valentin must outwit the would-be conspirators and save the king – even though his chief adversary is a mathematical genius who claims to be able to predict the future.

The plot of this book is exciting, and the book itself ought to be exciting, but for some reason I never really got into it. First of all, I didn’t like the cutesy introduction by the “translator” (actually the author) about how she found this old manuscript that sheds a new light on history. I was also put off by the detailed description of certain unusual sexual practices. However, the story itself was interesting enough that I stuck with it. The pacing of the novel is strangely slow, though, given how many action scenes there are (lots of duels and such). I did enjoy the Renaissance setting, but overall I feel like this book was a really promising idea whose execution fell flat.
2 vote christina_reads | May 18, 2011 |
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For Dean, my first reader; without whom, nothing.
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Translator's Foreword. It's about sex, and cruelty, and forgiveness.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380820412, Paperback)

"It's about sex, and cruelty, and forgiveness."

Thus begins a sweeping historical adventure about two dueling swordsmen and the plot to kill a king in the grand tradition of Dorothy Dunnett and Alexander Dumas.

The year is 1610. Continental Europe is briefly at peace after years of war, but Henri IV of France is planning to invade the German principalities. In England, only five years earlier, conspirators nearly succeeded in blowing up King James I and his Parliament. The seeds of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War are visibly being sown, and the possibility for both enlightenment and disaster abounds.

But Valentin Rochefort, duelist and spy for France's powerful financial minister, could not care less. Until he is drawn into the glittering palaces, bawdy back streets, and stunning theatrics of Renaissance France and Shakespearean London in a deadly plot both to kill King James I and to save him. For this swordsman without a conscience 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:59 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Four centuries ago, Robert Fludd, English physician and astrologer, decides to alter the future centuries that he sees. 1610 is the year when everything would change. Continental Europe is briefly at peace - but Henri IV is planning to invade the German principalities, and the seeds of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War are visibly being sown. Robert Fludd is pulling the strings but his target, Valentin Rochefort, doesn't take kindly to being someone's puppet--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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