S. J. Parris

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Hardcover/384 pages
ISBN: 9780385531306
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"…rare novel that combines historical fact and fiction into a heady mix that tantalizes, teases, and informs…"

Conspiracies and political plots wrapped about with magic and heresy in a heady combination.

Dr. John Dee, astrologer and philosopher to Queen Elizabeth I, and Dr. Giordano Bruno, King Henri of France’s protégé, are absorbed by the coming Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the beginning of a new quadrant of the sky, the beginning of a new age that happens only once a millennium. Neither knows that murder, conspiracies involving Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stewart, once queen of Scotland, will bring them close to death for black magic.

Dr. Bruno resides with Ambassador Castelnau of France at the request of King Henri while he keeps tabs on conspiracies to dethrone the Queen Elizabeth and return Mary Stuart to the throne of England and Scotland. Dr. Bruno works with the Earl of Leicester, Francis Walsingham, and Lord Burghley, one of the queen’s advisors. As Bruno is drawn deeper into the web of the murder of the queen’s ladies in waiting, he must balance his own safety against the needs of the monarchs he serves.

S. J. Parris delves once again in Queen Elizabeth’s time near the end of the 16th century and infuses Prophecy with Hermetic magic, philosophy, astrology and a bit of mystery to bring off a fascinating and engrossing read. I was immediately struck by the realistic settings and well developed characters, if a little bored with all the fashion details. Fewer words could have been said about puffed pantaloons, slashed sleeves, and starched ruffs. The details of clothing were a bit tedious, but did not detract at all from the central mystery or the interactions of the various characters. I was completely caught up in solving the puzzle and reading more about life in the time of Queen Elizabeth.

Prophecy is that rare novel that combines historical fact and fiction into a heady mix that tantalizes, teases, and informs while remaining quite entertaining. I would suggest getting Parris’s previous Dr. Bruno novel, Heresy and reading them together. Heresy is likely as thrilling and detailed as Prophecy and will provide a wider view of the times and philosophies at the beginning of the Renaissance.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell