Tag Archives: Phil Rickman

Save a Bookstore: Buy a Book (or Two, or Three)

Tomorrow June 25th is Save a Bookstore Day, with its own Facebook event page and a very clear agenda: on Saturday, all of us who love our local bookstore, will go out and show our love by buying a book at that bookstore — or an armload of books, if the pocketbook allows.

Not sure where your local bookstore is? Check out Indiebound’s helpful bookstore searcher, mark your routes, grab your kids, and get yourself out to the bookstore tomorrow. Be sure to pick up Tolstoy and the Purple Chair for all the book lovers you know — or for anyone looking for ideas on the meaning of life — and why not grab S.J. Bolton’s latest thriller, Now You See Me, for great summer reading? I also recommend Phil Rickman’s The Bones of Avalon, for a great Tudor mystery; Geraldine Brooks’ beautiful Caleb’s Crossing for compelling historical fiction; and Otto Penzler’s wild The Big Book of Adventure Stories, perfect for reading on the beach, in between dips into the water and trips to the ice cream stand.

Bookstores provide flavor, life, and pleasure to our towns, cities, and villages — don’t let them disappear, falling victim to the economy, the internet, the UPS delivery guy. Buy food local, and buy books local. Just imagine what lengths our local bookstores might have to go to, if we don’t go out tomorrow and next week and the week after, to pick up a book or two. What happened in Russia could happen here….

Queen Elizabeth’s John Dee: Conjurer, Scientist, Sleuth

For those of us waiting with bated breath for the next installment in C.J. Sansom’s marvelous Matthew Shardlake murder mysteries set in Tudor England, heed my words: Rhil Rickman and his John Dee have arrived to satisfy the cravings for craven Tudor-esque crimes! After all, the agitated times of Henry VIII, Bloody Mary, and Queen Bess offer plenty of grist for the plot mill, and Phil Rickman has reaped the lot. The Bones of Avalon, just released this week, gives us John Dee, a real life character from history (one of Queen Elizabeth’s favored wise men), setting off in search of Avalon and King Arthur and knowledge, always more knowledge. What he finds is murder most terrible but will he find the culprit in time to save the Queen? The novel chills, thrills and satisfies, providing good history, great plot, and fascinating characters. Pull up a chair, turn off the phone, and settle in for a most delectable read.

Dee was a scientist and a scholar, renowned throughout Europe but feared in his own England as being a conjurer, a magician, a dabbler in dark arts. Like Matthew Shardlake, Dee is an outsider: much as Shardlake is feared and despised for his hunchback, Dee is feared and despised for his constant search for knowledge of the universe. Rickman’s Dee struggles with the reconciliation between knowledge and faith, curiosity and piety, but his determination to understand the world always wins out. Lucky for us, because it is this determination that bends and twists the plot around the myth of Arthur, the mysterious Tor of Glastonbury, and the destiny of Elizabeth. We are drawn into secrets and facts and mysteries as surely as Dee is drawn, and in the end, we are released as he is, in a cathartic, near apocalyptic, resolution of ideals and desires. The Bones of Avalon is a fabulous read and John Dee is a marvelous addition to the world of Tudor intrigue.

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