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June 7, 2011 / Leslie

Review: Heresy (Giordano Bruno #1)

by S.J. Parris
Read by: John Lee

Genre: Historical Thriller
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: February 2010
Format: Audio CD | 13 Hours and 30 min
Rating: 3½ of 5

“Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic.”

It is the sixteenth-century and Giordano Bruno has traveled to Oxford University to participate in a debate about the Copernican theory of the universe. The prevailing thought at the time had the earth at the center of the universe; Copernicus’ model put the sun at the center with the earth just another planet, a heretical notion. In reality he has been sent to gather information about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. Soon after Bruno arrives the first of a series of ghastly murders is discovered. He begins to investigate in an attempt to solve the crimes.

I especially enjoy historical fiction if it is based on a real person and maintains its historical accuracy. I had never heard of Giordano Bruno before but I have read a lot about astronomy and when I saw the words “Copernican theory” my interest ignited. I looked up Bruno in Wikipedia before I started listening and got a little background. I’m like that with historical fiction but you don’t need to do that to read this book.

The author did a nice job blending history and fiction. In fact, she may have done too good a job with the history. If you enjoy English Literature and have a background in this period you’ll love this book. It got a bit slow at time as the characters engaged in philosophical debate about religion, theology and arguments of the time period. I enjoyed the murder mystery with all its requisite twists and turns but the story as a whole could have been a little faster-paced for me.

The audio production was well done. John Lee’s cultured British voice was a pleasure to listen to. He used a wide variety of accents and I was able to easily identify the characters. However, I think I would have enjoyed this more if I was reading rather than listening, but this has nothing to do with the skill of the narrator. I tend to speed up and slow down my reading (doesn’t everyone?) and would have flown more quickly through the cerebral discussions that did not affect the outcome of the mystery.

I like Bruno and the cast of characters enough to join him again in the next book in this series, Prophecy. I’ll be “reading” rather than listening this time. I will also be hosting a giveaway of two finished copies of Prophecy in the next few weeks.


Leave a Comment
  1. Jen - Devourer of Books / Jun 7 2011 1:33 pm

    Hmm, I see what you mean, it would be nice to skim those philosophical sections, but I do adore John Lee as narrator…. Hmm.


    • Leslie / Jun 8 2011 11:29 am

      Narration was great, no complaints there.


  2. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jun 7 2011 5:02 pm

    Interesting – thanks for your thoughts on this… bummer it wasn’t better.


    • Leslie / Jun 8 2011 11:29 am

      I liked the story, I think I was expecting more thriller and less historical discussion.


  3. BermudaOnion / Jun 7 2011 7:06 pm

    I’ve found that I enjoy historical fiction more when it’s about the time period instead of the person. This may not be the book for me.


  4. Carol / Jun 10 2011 3:41 pm

    I think I have this one buried on the shelf somewhere. I’ll have to dig it out, it definitely sounds like one I’d enjoy.



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