Heresy by S.J. Parris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Religious differences, persecutions, murder, mystery, and Oxford College and the Elizabethan age. What better combination to introduce a series that features Dr Giordano Bruno of Nola, a former Dominican monk, a philosopher, an excommunicated heretic, and an agent of Sir Francis Walsingham, the Queen’s Chief Secretary and spy.
The story starts in an Italian monastery where we are introduced to Bruno as he faces the challenges of wanting to know things that the Catholic Church – and the Inquisition – does not. Left with little choice, Bruno leaves the monastery, turning his back on the life he knew, and starts wandering Europe.
We skip ahead a few years to find Bruno now under the patronage of the King of France and visiting England to take part in an Oxford disputation. While staying in Lincoln College, Bruno is drawn inexorably into a series of murders that have a distinctly religious overtone to them, while also being ensnared by the ongoing religious turmoils between the new Church of England and the “papists” who are outlawed and deemed traitors for what they believe.
It is an interesting portrait of Elizabethan England that S.J. Parris presents, particularly in light of its religious and political background. It is hard to separate religion and politics in this time, and Parris does well to highlight this aspect of the age that is both honest and sympathetic to the intricacies of the situation.
I very much enjoyed this first volume in the series, and look forward to reading more of the adventures of Dr Giordano Bruno.
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