Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Book Review: Prophecy
One of the features of much of the newly fashionable historical fiction genre appears to be the imposing of (post)modern liberal standards on the lead character in the midst of the upheaval of the Reformation. CJ Sansom is at it, and so it seems to be the prevailing priority of SJ Parris in this, her second Giordano Bruno story. While there is much religious fervour on all sides, the lead character sails through, bemused by all this extremism and fundamentalism, appealing for a new atheist, or at least the can't-we-all-get-alongism of liberalism (religious or otherwise). In some senses, the story wouldn't matter, so long as this main point is made. In this particular story, the main point is made time and again.
Bruno finds himself again working for Francis Walshingham, the agent of Queen Elizabeth. Religious violence and political action combine with the threat and rumour of Mary Stuart's attempt to gain the English throne. It's a dangerous time, especially since Bruno is under the pay of the English Queen while living in the French Ambassador's house and under his protection. Of course, the setting is convenient - those gathered around the Ambassador's table are the chief suspects when a series of murders occur, fuelled, it seems by a weird prophecy being touted around London.
The prophecy finds its basis in a sort of seance with a scryer, the scene which opens the book and leads to more questions than are ever answered. The body count rises, the tension begins to build as the killer is discovered - with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
I've a great interest in history. Historical novels are always fascinating, to see the way the author transports the reader back into the sights and smells and sounds of bygone London. I should love it, especially with the religious element thrown in as well. But I think I'm tiring of this type of fiction. The clothing may be sixteenth century, but the heartbeat is postmodern liberal. Take it or leave it, let the reader decide.
Prophecy is available from Amazonand for the Kindle.