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Prophecy: An Elizabethan Thriller [Kindle Edition]

S.J. Parris
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

S. J. Parris returns with the next Giordano Bruno mystery, set inside Queen Elizabeth’s palace and steeped in period atmospherics and the strange workings of the occult.

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews



"Tudor England again proves to be fertile ground for an outstanding historical thriller, as shown by Parris's marvelous second novel featuring philosopher spy Giordano Bruno (after Heresy)...The suspenseful search for the murderer and the conspirators behind him makes the pages fly by. An admirable original sleuth and persuasive period detail bolster the taut plot."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"As in Heresy, Parris has crafted a cracking good suspense yarn, with twists and turns enough to satisfy the most exacting fan of the spy thriller. I bet you'll never guess who mudered Cecily Ashe."
--Lucia Anderson for The Free Lance-Star

"Parris based both of her books on real-life historical figures, which include Bruno. She knows the period well, and her writing is reflective of that knowledge. Readers will hear the sounds of Elizabethan England, smell the Thames River, taste the food and feel the luxurious fabrics of the clothes worn by courtiers."
--Kirkus Reviews

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

"This one is all about plots, spies, and counterspies, with repudiated monk Giordano Bruno smack-dab in the intriguing glimpse into the politics of the era...An entertaining historical mystery..."
-- Booklist


Heresy is a must-read for every fan of historical thrillers . . . Giordano Bruno turns out to be that rare hero, charismatic and nuanced enough to impel an encore.” —Matthew Pearl

From the Hardcover edition.


/ 'Impossible to resist ! Parris creates a convincing sense of the past, woven with so much intrigue that the head fairly spins' Daily Telegraph / 'Parris writes with confident ease of Tudor London ! The dialogue balances nicely on a tightrope of period phrases and cut-to-the-chase colloquialisms. More, please' The Times / 'Parris's plot is well crafted and full of surprises, an imaginatively satisfying addition to the many real intrigues surrounding the imprisoned Mary Stuart and the threats to Elizabeth's security' TLS / 'Tense and lively, a welcome follow-up to Heresy, fully living up to its predecessor's promise' Daily Mail Praise for Heresy: / 'Heresy has everything -- intrigue, mystery, excellent history and haunting sense of place. The beginning of a wonderful new detective series' Kate Mosse / 'Fascinating ! The period is incredibly vivid and the story utterly gripping' Conn Iggulden (bestselling author of Bones of the Hills and The Dangerous Book for Boys) / 'Heresy is a riveting read. Rich in both historical detail and ingenious twists, S. J. Parris has created a character in Giordano Bruno that will endure. A true rival to C. J. Sansom' Sam Bourne (bestselling author of The Righteous Men) / 'Parris paces her yarn perfectly' Daily Telegraph

Product Details

  • File Size: 1389 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385531303
  • Publisher: Anchor (May 3, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43GFG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,880 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed S J Parris' first novel, Heresy, likening it to a Tudor Inspector Morse tale, and was delighted to be offered the chance to review a pre-publication copy of this second story starring the same protagonists.

In this story the heretical monk, Giordano Bruno, is back at the French Embassy in Elizabethan London, where he is drawn rapidly into both a catholic conspiracy to invade England, and a related murder mystery when two of the queen's ladies in waiting meet very sticky ends.

The style is very similar to the first book, with Bruno trying to both uncover the truths about the murders, and navigate complex relationships with the other characters. The tale is again told in the first person, but here it makes a bit more sense as you get to understand Bruno's concerns, guilt and frustrations, and the motivation for some of his deeds.

I loved the period detail, particularly the descriptions of Elizabethan versions of well-known London locations. In this book Parris also makes much more use of actual events and personalities, such as Francis Walsingham, William Cecil and John Dee. I could almost hear some of the dialogue being spoken by Geoffrey Rush and Richard Attenborough.

The story is a real page-turner with a steady pace which kept my attention right to the end. However, if I have a slight criticism, it's that some plot twists, such as the murderer's identity, seemed to be signalled very early, while at other times key actions were taken by characters who had not been introduced.

These are minor failings, and overall this is a very enjoyable romp. I look forwards to Bruno's next outing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Prophecy by S.J. Parris is positive proof that the author's earlier novel, Heresy was no fluke. As in her first work, Parris takes an intriguing premise, this time the 1583 Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (which occur only once every 1,000 years or so) and lets it be the springboard for mayhem and intrigue. To fervid Catholics the Great Conjunction heralds the dawn of a new era, one without Elizabeth and one they will go to almost any length to realize.

Giordano Bruno the monk, turned philosopher, turned spy, is once again enormously appealing and sympathetic. Some have complained that emotion and personal dislikes affect his opinion. For me this only makes him more believable and intriguing. Who doesn't let their personal opinions impact their judgment? And what man doesn't sometimes think with his nether regions? In addition to an intricate but thoroughly plausible plot, Parris has fashioned a hero that is a humanist, humane and very very human.

In addition to the complex plotting and twists galore, the depiction of Bruno is most effective--even touching. His escape from the Inquisition and the necessity of making his mark in a Protestant country have not diminished his ethics and the twinges of shame for his betrayal of his sponsors Henri of France and his ambassador to England. Admirably he recognizes these flaws, but realistically his ambition and desire to make his mark will trump all compunctions.

With both Heresy and Prophecy I have managed to be half right guessing Parris' villain(s). Perhaps her third will be my charm, but whether I do or not it will not diminish the tremendous appeal of this terrific series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good July 12, 2011
I liked this book, although I had a hard time getting into it at first. It had a good plot, but it seemed to move very slowly in the first half of the book, then at breakneck speed during the second half. The prologue is a bit confusing; I am not really into astrology: this book gets very technical about astrology- signs and symbols that I do not have prior knowledge of- so it makes it difficult to follow at times. I have a feeling that this is the second book in a series, because some of the narrative seems to speak of Bruno's past that the reader should be aware of. I felt lost at times, not knowing what Bruno's actual position is with Walsingham- I didn't realize that Walsingham had recruited Bruno to officially `spy' for him and the Queen until the last part of the book.
With that said, however, I did enjoy the story as a whole. I liked the intrigue and suspense; I always enjoy a good murder mystery as long as it isn't too gory. The history is accurate, from what I can tell; I studied the Renaissance era in college quite extensively and the writer uses terms from the period. I did notice that she uses some terms of speech that may not have been a part of the era, like when Bruno gets jumped, he later replies, "You should have seen the other guy." I think that is modern. Maybe she was attempting to modernize it a bit, and if so, that's okay. It just seemed a bit jarring to me.
If the opportunity presented itself, I would read more of S.J. Parris, but I would probably wait until I had time on my hands- it took me a month to read this, because it was so detailed, and I normally read much faster.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery November 25, 2011
In 1583 Giordano Bruno, excommunicated monk, esoteric scholar, and reluctant detective, finds himself deep in a mystery involving two queens and their two factions who will stop at nothing to bring one of them to power and keep the other in power. Queen Elizabeth I sits on the throne of England, but for how long? There are those who are ready to murder anyone who stands in their way to make Mary, Queen of Scots, the next Queen and bring Catholicism back to the monarchy.

Up in the sky the planets Jupiter and Saturn are on course for a once in a millennium alignment that portends great changes. In London, Bruno finds himself, once again, following the orders of Sir Francis Walsingham who has unwittingly placed in him in a precarious, and deadly, situation. Ostensibly in London as a spy in the household of the French ambassador, it's not long before he is called upon to investigate the death of one of the Queen's maids of honor. The machinations behind the murder lead Bruno in one direction and back again as he uncovers clues and secrets to who is behind the murder. Soon, however, he finds himself faced with the death of another young girl and the opposition ratchets up their efforts to keep Bruno from discovering who killed the young girls. There is more to keep him busy - as he listens to the odd ramblings of John Dee, astrologer to the Queen, he finds himself defending Dee's prophecies from those loyal to Mary and looking over his shoulder as those that deem astrology and prophecy as heresies plot to make Bruno the next victim.

He has not forgotten his quest to find the one book that holds the secrets to becoming 'god' that began in the first book of the series, "Heresy" and he feels as though his search may be closer than ever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and interesting to read from beginning to end ...
Well written and interesting to read from beginning to end, but a weakness here and there on aspects of Catholic culture. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Raymond B. Marcin
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable thriller--good summer reading
This second book off the trilogy (Heresy, Prophecy & Sacrilege) continues the story from the end of Heresy, but this time the setting is London in the fall of 1583. Read more
Published 14 days ago by SaraM
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
Could not put it down even though I read it out of order. I read this after Sacrilege. Had read the unknown dead and heresy first. No matter.
Published 22 days ago by Mycv
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story line - fresh way of looking at murder ...
Good story line - fresh way of looking at murder mysteries, with bits of humor sprinkled throughout the story. I've now read all three in this series and enjoyed them very much. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shari Martone
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Much like Ariana Franklin. Fiction for sure, but there are enough bits to send you searching through the old classics. Particularly in the History of Science.
Published 1 month ago by Jacqueline Gonzalez
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected
A weak story with poor ending that left too many parts of the storyline unsatisfactorily completed. Not as good as the first book.
Published 3 months ago by beryl hutchings
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific addition to series
The second book in the Giordano Bruno series is set in 1583 and finds the Italian heretic and former monk, Bruno, ensconced in the French Ambassador's residence in London, where... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Karen B
3.0 out of 5 stars It's treason to even think of the death of the queen
1583 is the year of the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, prophesied to be the moment of Queen Elizabeth’s downfall. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Linda Pagliuco
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and entertaining
I was began reading this book because of the references to Hermes teachings and the Kyballion which I found fascinating. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Gail M. Manishor
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
A fairly good murder mystery tied to the court goings on of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Wordy at times...filling up space....but a decent ending.
Published 12 months ago by deeartgirl
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More About the Author

S.J. Parris is the pen name of Stephanie Merritt who began reviewing books for national newspapers while she was reading English literature at Queens' College, Cambridge. After graduating, she went on to become Deputy Literary Editor of The Observer in 1999. She continues to work as a feature writer and critic for the Guardian and the Observer and from 2007-2008 she curated and produced the Talks and Debates program on issues in contemporary arts and politics at London's Soho Theatre. She has appeared as a panelist on various Radio Four shows and on BBC2's Newsnight Review, and is a regular chair and presenter at the Hay Festival and the National Theatre. She has been a judge for the Costa Biography Award, the Orange New Writing Award and the Perrier Comedy Award. She lives in the south of England with her son.

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