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Ex Libris Hardcover – Jun 9 1998


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Hardcover, Jun 9 1998
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK (June 9 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856195996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856195997
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.2 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 621 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)


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I declare, if it's not one thing, it's two more. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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By Miss Print on Feb. 27 2011
Format: Paperback
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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By John Angel on Aug. 16 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on June 24 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on March 24 2003
Format: Paperback
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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By Judith Noone on March 10 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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