London -- 1583: "Planet" means 'wanderer', and we have tracked the planets' meanders among the constellations for millennia. And found portents, good and bad, in their wanderings. In London, those who study the stars know Jupiter and Saturn will soon align in a new sign of the zodiac: the Great Conjunction. What will it mean? Mutterings speak of all manner of darkness arising in the affairs of man. Even that the British Crown will fall, Elizabeth supplanted by Mary Stewart. One of the Queen's young maids is found murdered, her body desecrated, with an indication of the practice of magic.
The Queen consults with Dr. John Dee, her astrologer. (Sound familiar? Dee was a real person, and another author, Phil Rickman, uses
him as his sleuth. See The Bones of Avalon
- and my first glance
.) But Giordano Bruno, "renegade monk, philosopher, scientist, poet, and magician" (and, perhaps, more-) has fled to London, where he sees danger in the times. Another death- and he begins to suspect other forces of impelling events.
S. J. Parris
(nom de plume
for Stephanie Merritt
) also wrote Heresy
, featuring Bruno. (Which received a starred review from Publishers' Weekly - a portent, itself.) Her style has been praised as rich and enjoyable.
Could be interesting to compare the visions of Rickman and Parris... same period, same location, same historical personages. (A second Great Conjunction?) I bet their worlds are strikingly different. Thoughts?