Prophecy: Book summary and reviews of Prophecy by S.J. Parris

Prophecy

An Historical Thriller

By S.J. Parris

Prophecy
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  • Published in USA  May 2011,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

It is the year of the Great Conjunction, when the two most powerful planets, Jupiter and Saturn, align - an astrologi­cal phenomenon that occurs once every thousand years and heralds the death of one age and the dawn of another. The streets of London are abuzz with predictions of horrific events to come, possibly even the death of Queen Elizabeth.

When several of the queen's maids of honor are found dead, rumors of black magic abound. Elizabeth calls upon her personal astrologer, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno to solve the crimes. While Dee turns to a mysterious medium claiming knowledge of the murders, Bruno fears that some­thing far more sinister is at work. But even as the climate of fear at the palace intensifies, the queen refuses to believe that the killer could be someone within her own court.

Bruno must play a dangerous game: can he allow the plot to progress far enough to give the queen the proof she needs without putting her, England, or his own life in danger?

In this utterly gripping and gorgeously written novel, S. J. Parris has proven herself the new master of the historical thriller.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An admirable original sleuth and persuasive period detail bolster the taut plot." - Publishers Weekly

"Parris looks to be an up-and-comer in the historical fiction/mystery arena; buy accordingly." - Library Journal

"Parris populates her tale with interesting characters and plenty of atmosphere but allows the story to ramble on until the reader grows weary of Bruno and his detective work." - Kirkus Reviews

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Nancy D. (West Chester, PA)
Another Winner
Once again Parris delights with her character Bruno.The book is a historical whodunit filled with details and well drawn characters. I felt transported back to the era of Elizabeth I.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Kristine I. (Carmel, IN)
Slow Paced Thriller
This is a solid historical mystery, but for me it wasn’t what I would call an historical thriller as the cover claimed. I enjoyed the history of the book which sent me more than once to look up facts online. While I liked the narrator and felt that I connected with him, I found myself having trouble keeping the other characters straight in my mind because there were so many of them, they just didn’t come alive to me. It was as if the mystery was hidden because there were too many story lines rather than clever plotting. There were some story lines I would have wanted expanded a little more. I think fewer, richer characters would have made the story a fuller, more satisfying read.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Therese X. (CALERA, AL)
Prophecy--Rumors, charms and truths
Prophecy by S.J. Parris---Sixteenth century defrocked monk, Giordano Bruno has escaped the Inquisition and is in exile in England. Working for Sir Francis Walsingham, the spymaster of Queen Elizabeth. Many Catholics feel they have authority to remove her from the throne because her father, Henry VIII, excommunicated from the Catholic Church and created himself as the head of the Church of England. Walsingham is assigned to create a network willing to assassinate the Queen to bring Catholicism and the Pope as religious head of England’s Church. Intertwined with this religious battle, there is also the battle of sciences and astrology, condemned by the Pope but studied by numerous scholars who possess writings which many believe will bring evil down to earth. Bruno, known as the “heretic monk” is a scholar and studies in the household of de Castelnau, a Catholic with French connections. Bruno meets people and plots aplenty to keep him---and the reader---guessing as to who is to be trusted and who might be a traitor.

This is a complex novel with many references to subjects and writings as well as supernatural abilities such as “scrying” to predict the future or death, for the Queen of England in particular. With all the characters and Bruno’s various comments to himself as well as telling his story in the first person, it’s sometimes difficult to tell if he’s suspicious of someone of of everyone. Overall a good read, but not easy to keep track of the characters in this ambitious mystery series.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Gina R. (West Hollywood, CA)
Slow Read
Unless you're a devout fan of S.J. Parris and have read the Heresy, the prequel to Prophecy, I wouldn't recommend this book. It was very slow and dark and it never grabbed me. Its being marketed as a historical thriller so I expected it to be a page turner like The Historian, but it was very hard to get through and unfortunately I didn't very much enjoy this read.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Lisa R. (Salem, OR)
Prophecy by S.J. Parris
This book is definitely for those who love history in their books! It took a little while for me to get into the story, but then I enjoyed it very much. I will be looking for a copy of the writer's other book, Heresy. The writing is very descriptive and detailed and it's easy to let yourself start thinking like Bruno, from who's point of view the story is told. I would recommend this to my friends that like to pair historical detail with their mysteries.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carol P. (Mendham, NJ)
Elizabethan Espionage
Prophesy fits the bill as a historical thriller set in Elizabethan England. The main character Giordano Bruno is an undercover agent and humanist trying to discover how true the rumors are that Mary Queen of Scott and her followers are plotting to overthrow Elizabeth I. Bruno is following leads by intercepting letters to Mary Queen of Scots, deciphering the code in the letter and then sending to Mary after carefully resealing. Bruno, an Italian expatriate, has a relationship with John Dee an astrologer of Elizabeth’s court. Astrological signs and symbols are the focus for Bruno who now has the job to discover who has murdered two young women of the Court with astrological signs carved on their dead bodies. Questions arise as we follow Bruno as he searches for the murderer. Is the suspect in the Queen’s Court, within her Catholic rivals, the French, the Spanish or among Bruno’s own group of undercover spies? In addition to the murder mystery, the author has done an outstanding job drawing the reader into the time period. You clearly see, smell and hear the London of the 16th Century. You feel the intrigue and fear as the author takes you deep into the conspiracies of the court.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction or mysteries. I am now planning to read Heresy the author’s first book to learn more about Giordano Bruno.

...19 more reader reviews

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Author Information

S.J. Parris Author Biography

S. J. Parris is the pseudonym of author and journalist Stephanie Merritt.

Parris first became fascinated by the rich history of Tudor England and Renaissance Europe while researching a paper as a student at Cambridge. Since then, her interest has grown and led her to create this series of historical thrillers featuring Giordano Bruno.

Parris has worked as a critic and feature writer for a variety of newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and television shows. She currently writes for the Observer and the Guardian and is the author of six books. She has one son.

Author Interview
Link to S.J. Parris's Website

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