Customer Reviews for

Heresy

Average Rating 3.5
( 97 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A good historical fiction mystery thriller!

Here is a good historical fiction mystery thriller, my friends. Set in 1583, narrator Giordano Bruno, philosopher, excommunicate, heretic, and spy, travels to Oxford on the premise of staging a debate with the Oxford Rector. Unbeknownst to his hosts, Bruno is not just v...
Here is a good historical fiction mystery thriller, my friends. Set in 1583, narrator Giordano Bruno, philosopher, excommunicate, heretic, and spy, travels to Oxford on the premise of staging a debate with the Oxford Rector. Unbeknownst to his hosts, Bruno is not just visiting Oxford to display his skills at public speaking, he's also searching for a lost manuscript containing secrets of the universe as translated from Egyptian sorcerer Hermes Trismegistus. Additionally, he's been recruited by Queen Elizabeth's advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham, to root out secret sects of unconverted Catholics. When Oxford Fellows turn up murdered in the means of martyrs from a book, Bruno is also tasked to find the killer. Steeped in mystery, surrounded by lies and darkness amidst the stone walls of Oxford's colleges, and the swish of academic robes and hooded faces, Bruno hunts down a secret society, but can he expose the members and save the Rector's beautiful daughter before he himself is destroyed?

S.J. Parris is a pseudonym for author Stephanie Merritt, and this is her first novel. Her writing moves refreshingly swift for historical-fiction, with easy transitions and a contemporary voice. Her characters were plentiful, but each were richly executed. The story itself is imagined from Giordano Bruno's real life, he did in fact visit Oxford, and he was indeed favored by Queen Elizabeth. As written by Parris, he is intelligent and witty, with a slight charm to make him amusingly enjoyable. He is brave when confronted with danger, but not always courageous, suffering frequent bowel spasms and bouts of claustrophobia. He shows some slight weakness of character, but not enough to make me overly agitated. In general, I enjoyed Bruno, I just wish he hadn't fallen for the Rector's daughter, as his feelings for her made him weak.

There were many different reasons Bruno was visiting Oxford, and I was interested to see how Parris would play all the parts together. For the most part, they were all addressed successfully, but I could see her making a sequel with Bruno as the protagonist again, since not all the loose ends were tied, and he's very likable as detective-sleuth-philosopher.

Heresy is a good novel, enjoyable and a quick page-turner that kept me entertained. I can relate it to The Dante Club, only a bit more readable. I definitely look forward to seeing more from S.J. Parris in the future. I think if she sticks to the historical fiction genre she can definitely turn out some great reads.

posted by TheCrowdedLeaf on February 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Good Setting and Timeframe, Bland Story

This book has all the makings of a terrific historical mystery:
1) Great time and place - England during the Elizabethan era
2) Great contextual and cultural undercurrent - Catholicism v. Protestantism; and a growing world view that's building momentum towards the Ren...
This book has all the makings of a terrific historical mystery:
1) Great time and place - England during the Elizabethan era
2) Great contextual and cultural undercurrent - Catholicism v. Protestantism; and a growing world view that's building momentum towards the Renaissance.
3) Cool lead character - Giordano Bruno, a real life mystic/priest/heretic/scientist

Unfortunately, the author wasn't able to build upon this foundation with an interesting enough story. The three factors above all scream MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, but the actual plot whispers MADE FOR TV.

After escaping inquisition in Italy, an excommunicated Bruno finds himself in Oxford, England where he's scheduled to debate Oxford's Rector on the Copernican theory of the universe. First, one senior member of the faculty is murdered, then another, and then one more. Bruno takes it upon himself to dig into the evidence and naturally finds mystery and opposition at every turn.

I kept waiting for a nice strong 'gotcha' during the story. Sometimes those don't come until halfway through or even later, but, in this case, it never came. And this is the largest disappointment with the novel.

The writing is good. S.J.Parris is a wonderfully descriptive author. The moods and, in particular, the scenes are drawn very strongly. The secondary characters are not and I never felt a strong enough pull to root for or against them.

I'm keeping Harris' Bruno follow up on my wishlist because there are a enough interesting things going on in Bruno's world that I remain optimistic about the sequel.

posted by JGolomb on August 17, 2011

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    Heresy by C. J. Parris

    Giordano Bruno is a monk who left the monestary on the run to avoid being tried by the inquisition as a heretic for reading books that had been forbidden to him. He is recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham on behalf of Queen Elizabeth to go to Oxford University as a spy to find out who is loyal to the Queen and who is not.

    After he arrives at Oxford, he becomes embroiled in the search for a murderer who is killing all of the university fellows one by one. Each of the fellows killed appears to be a heretic. Bruno agrees to help investigate the murders to find out who's responsible.

    Hersey is full of hictorical information, plots and conspiracies. It gives an interesting look into Tudor life and offers insight into the stresses between men of science and men of God during the time period. It was also very interesting to read about the tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants of that time period.

    All in all, if you enjoy historical thrillers, Heresey will be a fantastic addition to your library. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy Pariss's latest book due to be released on February of 2010.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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