- Series: City of Dark Magic Series (Book 1)
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Remainder edition (November 27, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143122681
- ISBN-13: 978-0143122685
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 222 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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City of Dark Magic: A Novel (City of Dark Magic Series) Paperback – November 27, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Cleverly combining time travel, murder, history, and musical lore, this is a breezy, lighthearted novel. Sarah Weston is researching her Ph.D. in neurological musicology in Boston when a letter arrives summoning her to Prague. Maximilian Lobkowicz, the heir to the ancient Lobkowicz fortune, is planning to turn the family palace, located within the Prague Castle complex, into a museum; Sarah's job will be to establish the relationship between one of the first Lobkowicz princes and Ludwig von Beethoven. Sarah is warned that Prague is a threshold to dark magic, passion and violence, and she suspects that mysteries await. And how. A little person gives Sarah a pill shaped like one of Beethoven's toenails that allows her to move through time, encapsulating many centuries. She not only sees Beethoven but also several of the dead Lobkowicz princes; Tycho Brahe, the 16th-century alchemist; and also Nico, who was at that time called Jepp and is now 400 years old. Plucky, impulsive, and reckless, Sarah is determined to discover the identity of Beethoven's Immortal Beloved, and time and again she's a hair's breath from death in dangerous situations. Tensions rise when Sarah's Boston violin pupil, 11-year-old blind musical prodigy Pollina, arrives in Prague and warns Sarah about forces conspiring against her. Complicating an already tangled plot, an evil senator from Virginia with the U. S. presidency in her sights schemes to kill anyone between her and some incriminating letters she wrote to her erstwhile lover, a KGB officer, while she was CIA. In a story that abounds in mysterious portents, wild coincidences, violent death, and furtive but lusty sexual congress, Flyte (the pseudonym for TV writer Christina Lynch and Meg Howrey, author of Cranes Dance) also offers a veritable guide to Prague that includes such historical references as Rabbi Loew's golem, the Golden Fleece, the Holy Infant of Prague, and a vault under St. Vitus Cathedral, where Sarah and Max find themselves in a tense denouement that promises a sequel. (Dec.)
The darkly charming and twisted streets of Prague provide the deliciously dramatic backdrop for this paranormal romp that fires on all cylinders, masquerading by turns as a romance, a time-travel thriller, and a tongue-in-cheek mystery. Summoned to Prague to the Lobkowicz Palace, located inside the cavernous confines of the Prague Castle, to archive Beethoven’s manuscripts and, perhaps, even to unlock the secrecy surrounding Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” musicologist Sarah Weston seizes the opportunity of a lifetime and never looks back—except when she begins time-traveling, of course. Before she even arrives in Prague, bad things start to happen, such as the suspicious suicide of her mentor/predecessor at the palace. What follows is a pulse-pounding adventure, as Sarah, with the aid of a powerful mind- and time-bending drug, zips through the centuries in search of clues that will unlock a timeless musical mystery. --Margaret Flanagan
Top customer reviews
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While the work is very interesting in regards to its imaginative and historical information concerning Ludwig Van Beethoven, it lacks appeal in its "magical" or "supernatural" sector. Actually, I would say that there really isn't enough magic in the book to really justify referencing it in the book synopsis. There are Alchemical references and there is a discussion of " residual energy" and possibly even time travel (almost definitely but not quite time travel) and there does happen to be a dwarf that's lived for a few hundred years but that, pretty much, is that. I don't know what you would call it other than magic, maybe metaphysical?
The villain was BY FAR the most interesting character and she was certainly evil in a very new and interesting way. Prince Max was a big yawn and I had to make him extraordinarily good looking in my imagination to even care about him at all. Our main character was smart but lacking what I consider standard human likability. She was too detached and seemingly existed off of barely there surface emotions. She seemed almost incapable of any type of extreme emotion. There was one moment in the book where her fears came to life and you got a tiny glimpse of who she might be inside but that was it and the reader couldn't' really glean too much from that.
Sarah is supposed to be passionately devoted to music history but you get the feeling that she's just good at it and she finds it mildly interesting and so just sort of, you know, goes with it. I never felt her excitement or devotion to her topic at all.
Basically, Sarah is sexy in theory (in both physical and non-physical ways) but sort of misses that mark somehow.
However, this does keep the reader enough at arms length so the author has room to move and expand with this character in the following books.
The author is very intelligent, and isn't a half-bad story teller either so the book was certainly entertaining. I'm a fan of historical fiction so I was intrigued by all of the historical references and the both contrived and accurate stories of historical characters and places.
I'm pretty sure I'll be picking up the second book in this series. I have a feeling that the second instillation will ease my complaints by allowing the story to broaden and the characters to blossom a little more.
1. Gratuitous sex scenes in almost every chapter that could have been written by a virginal 14 year old who watches too much porn. This is very amusing considering that this was actually written by two grown women.
2. Supernatural occurrences that the authors are reluctant to call supernatural, and instead come up with some vague hand-wavey explanations that typically involve "dark matter." In fact, in the first chapter, the protagonist's scientist friend basically says there are many things that are unexplained by science because of "dark matter." Ok then.
3. Unfortunately, the book decides to dabble in some subject matter that is much too dark and serious for the type of book it is. You probably shouldn't include graphic descriptions of violence and abuse in your trashy Beethoven fanfic if it's just there to serve as flavor.
4. Too many characters, so much so that many of them are reduced to broad caricatures.
5. Too many plot elements.
6. I think there was a Bush reference? This was published in 2012, but I'm fairly sure it was written much earlier.
Basically, if you can get this from your library, it might be a fun waste of a few hours, but please do not pay full price for this book.