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Ex-Libris: A Novel [Hardcover]

Ross King
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Anyone wishing to purchase a book in London in the year 1660 had a choice of four areas. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Bad! Feb. 27 2011
I picked up this book with much anticipation having enjoyed King's non-fiction work (I'm also a librarian, a bibliophile, and love books about books) but was truly disappointed. The characters are completely one dimensional and uninteresting, and the plot (which seemed good in the beginning) was boring and contrived. The ending was unsatisfying and it definitely felt as if King got bored himself and opted for the "Bob Newhart"-ending. I was really disappointed in this novel and will definitely not be reading "Domino" - stick with King's non-fiction work (may I recommend Brunelleschi's Dome?) and you'll be happy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book Aug. 16 2003
I agree with the above review by Mark Fantino, but was able to stomach the ending more readily than was he. However, it does stretch the suspension of disbelief. The majority of the book is wonderful: both it and Domino (also by Ross King) turn around the elusive faces of reality and are both entertaining, profound and thought-provoking. I look forward to more fiction from Mr. King.
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3.0 out of 5 stars In need to great revision July 2 2003
A fine tale too long told. Unfortunate that the editors at Penguin Books did not require King to reduce the text by another 40-60%. I have no doubt that King has a tremendous grasp of the politics of the 17th century, but he need not try to squeeze everything he knows into one novel. His characterizations are poor except for two major characters. He cites the greed and manipulations of political and eclesiacticl princes, but offers no personality traits; just his comdemdation. I struggled to finish the work. King could offer a revised and greatly reduced volume without losing anything except words.
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3.0 out of 5 stars About the Great Fire� June 24 2003
By A Customer
I enjoyed what I read, but ran out of time, so I scanned the rest. But if you're put off by the historical "error" regarding the Great Fire of London in a previous review, as I was, consider this: The Great Fire of London in 1666 started in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane and reached the London Bridge. But the bridge itself was mostly untouched because of gaps on the bridge from a previous fire. It is quite believable that, in 1700, one could sit in a bookshop on the bridge that had been unaffected by the fire.
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3.0 out of 5 stars At least it managed to catch my attention March 29 2003
This reminds me of those mystery stories having endings that spill out everything leaving you mildly insulted and exasperated. You'll start asking yourself why you bothered to plough through those chapters that go on and on about the history of events, people and things.
But a clever ploy; style seems to rule over substance here.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wish I'd paid more attention to the reviews March 24 2003
By A Customer
I was actually enjoying this book until I reached the end. Then I was mad that I'd spent time reading it. The ending just does not fit the build up, and is a major let down.
There appeared to be excellent research into the the historical time period. The swiftly changing political structure was presented in a manner that fit the story and provided the reader a framework to understand how certain books were seen as dangerous, politically threatening or valuable assets. However, the mysterious quest that the "hero" goes on ends up being laughable. It seemed to be used more for the author to demonstrate his understanding of the political structure of the times.
I would recommned "The Name of the Rose" instead of this book. It is a far superior read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I Finished It! March 10 2003
Tedious going in alot of places. More conversation would have made a better book for those not as knowledgeable about ancient texts as Mr King. The ending is really hard to get through. I found the dialogue there unbelievable. Maybe I missed something, but whatever happened to Emilia, who thought she was pregnant? That certainly looked promising. You really can't compare it to "The Instance of the Fingerpost" and "Club Dumas"'which I think are much better books. I've bought "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" and hope it is better.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fast Start but Nowhere To Go Feb. 28 2003
After several years of reading others' reviews, this is the first time I've written one myself. The question is, Why this one? I've read a lot better books in the last few years. King's recent non-fiction works have been weel received so I found this fiction piece at a decent price and figured I'd try it before going to the others. Mistake. I'm hoping the non-fiction works are an improvement. Mr. King needs some work as a fiction author.
I'm forced to agree with an earlier reviewer (Mr. Fantino); this book starts fine. The first 100 pages are intriguing, but not overpoweringly so in contrast to Eco's "The Name of the Rose", to which it is unfortunately compared. When there is dialogue, it is in a contemporary 21st century speaking style, not one comparable to how 17th century characters would actually have spoken.
The first 340 pages move along nicely, but the final 20 pages are a mess. The ending comes from nowhere; it's as if King couldn't figure out how to finish it and made it up the day the manuscript was due at the publishers. the last two chapters really weaken what otherwise is a decent tale of intrigue and double-dealing.
It's not bad, but it could have been a whole lot better.
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