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Thrones, Dominations Paperback – Sep 17 1998

3.9 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: New English Library (Sept. 17 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340684569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340684566
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 2.5 x 17.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #349,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Asked by her new husband, the gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey, why she is having trouble writing her latest mystery novel, Harriet Vane explains, "When I needed the money, it justified itself. It was a job of work, and I did it as well as I could, and that was that. But now, you see, it has no necessity except itself. And, of course, it's hard; it's always been hard, and it's getting harder. So when I'm stuck I think, this isn't my livelihood, and it isn't great art, it's only detective stories. You read them and write them for fun." Is this a clue to the mystery of why Dorothy L. Sayers put aside her 13th full-length Lord Peter novel in 1938 and never finished it? She had made lots of money, and was much more interested in translating Dante and writing about religion. Or is it another excellent novelist, Jill Paton Walsh, speculating--in a perfect imitation of Sayers's voice--on what might have happened? Walsh was invited by the estate of Sayers's illegitimate son, Anthony Fleming, to finish Thrones, Dominations. She has done a splendid job, certain to please Sayers loyalists on the "dorothyl" listserv as well as those new to the Wimsey canon. Lord Peter has been made much more human and interesting by marriage; Harriet is a wise and acerbic companion; and the story, about the murders of two beautiful young women involved with a theatrical producer, is full of twists and connivance. There's also a fascinating subplot involving the soon-to-abdicate King Edward VII and a country on the brink of World War II. Earlier Wimseys in paperback include The Five Red Herrings, Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, and Unnatural Death. Books in print by Walsh include a mystery called A Piece of Justice and a novel, The Serpentine Cave. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After Sayers married off Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in Busman's Honeymoon (1937), she devoted herself to translating Dante's Divine Comedy. A few short stories later appeared, noting the arrival of three Wimsey sons, and there was a rumor that suggested Sayers had another Wimsey novel in the works. Forty years after Sayers's death, that book has been triumphantly completed by British novelist Walsh (a 1994 Booker Prize finalist for Knowledge of Angels), following the original outline. If it is true that Sayers wrote the beginning, Walsh has done her predecessor a great service. Once the cast and context are established through some long exposition, the pace picks up, particularly after theatrical producer Laurence Harwell, an acquaintance of the Wimseys, discovers his cherished wife Rosamund strangled. As the nation mourns the death of King George V, upper-class women purchase black wardrobes, some of which are augmented with stylish white collars, an element which later figures as a clue. Germany invades the Rhineland. Uncrowned, Edward VIII continues to socialize with Nazis and to rendezvous with Mrs. Simpson. Lord Peter is recruited to persuade Edward to accept his responsibilities, but abdication is inevitable. The mystery involves two cases of blackmail as well as a second murder. Despite a large cast of suspects, ranging from two inept felons to a society portrait painter, every lead seems to come to a dead end. Typical of Sayers's novels, the solution derives from coincidences and some awkward plot devices. But readers have always turned to her mysteries for other reasons, such as the way Peter and Harriet settle the tumult four months of marriage has visited upon them. Harriet uncomfortably accepts her position as Lady Peter, with money and servants, while maintaining her independent identity as a mystery writer. In fact, her discussion of a plot problem with Peter helps him break a suspect's alibi. Sayers fans will relish the cooperative sleuthing of Peter, Harriet and the self-effacing Bunter as Walsh deftly captures and subtley updates the spirit of the series, endowing the iconic characters with additional depth and complexity.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 25 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In my mind, Dorothy Sayers is quite the best mystery writer ever. What sets her apart in my mind, is not just the intricate plot of a tightly woven detective stories - you can find plenty of that with Agatha Christie and Cornan Doyle also. The pleasure of reading Sayers comes from her sheer fortitude as a writer with unsurpassed erudition (I use this word as a complement in this case). Her penetrating analysis of the psychology of the main characters. Casually strawn references to Greek Mythologies, European history, and, of course, deliciously wonton quotations from classical writers and poets. This is what makes reading Sayers such a pleasure. (I follow most of her references, but am still searching the correct source of King Cophetua and Pandarus) I especially enjoyed Wimsey in the context of his pursuit of Vane in the four books Sayers herself wrote, with all of his (Sayers') finest display of the intellectual prowess. From this angle, Thrones and Dominations was a sad disappointment. But then again, I don't see how anyone without the turn of the century classical education and Sayers own intellect can duplicate the feat. Ms. Walsh's Wimsey and Vane have none of the sparkling intelligence or erudition. In fact, this "new" pair comes across only as a juvenile shadow of the original pair, almost vulgar at times.... Another minor irritation was Ms. Walsh's unrelenting effort to demonstrate to the readers that she did her "homework" by reading all of Sayers' works. There are quite a lot of tiresome verbatim quotes from previous Wimsey-Vane stories and references to the events that were described in previous stories. I would say Sayers herself would have never been so compulsively driven to prove the "continuity" of the authorship. I guess this in the same vein as in "Thou protestth too much!" As a detective story, the plot is good, and overall within the middle range of what Sayers herself would have accomplished.
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Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
A bit disappointing to realize this is an abridged, extremely abridged , version of the novel. Well read, but so much significant dialogue etc. is left out. Waited for certain bits, only to realize that they were skipped, in favor of moving the murder plot along, I guess. The musical interludes ,whatever they are to supposed to signify (parts left out?), are unnecessary .
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By A Customer on Aug. 12 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a big fan of the Peter Wimsey books, but I guess I don't qualify as hard-core. I really loved this book. I thought Walsh did an excellent job of recreating the characters and fleshing out a novel from Sayers' notes. The mystery was not incredibly complex, but the pschology in it was interesting. The ending of this book left me feeling ludicrously happy. I like a happy ending emerging from a sordid tale of murder, personally.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Murder Must Advertise, Wimsey briefly portrays a charicature of himself as a cold, stiff, conceited, well-educated lord. It's an hilarious episode, since it's a ruse perpetrated by the true Lord Peter (dear Lord Peter!) - quick-witted, playful, noble in the ancient sense.

In Thrones, Dominations, however, not only Wimsey, but also Harriet, Parker, and Bunter are sad, pale imitations of themselves. There's even one scene in which Parker says something abysmal like, "I don't mind if Bunter takes photgraphs. I have seen Bunter's photographs before. They are of a good quality. He knows better than to mess up the evidence, too." Who ARE these people? It's true that Wimsey and Harriet still quote various texts at one another. In the grand style of an ill-begot sequel, however, the majority of the quoting is from Sayer's previous works - half the sentences seem to start with "Remember that time when we...?". There's a very obnoxious mix of constant reference to Sayers' novels, a desire to wrap up all the "loose ends" in them, and complete lack of any resemblence to them.
More upsetting, however, than the problems with style and characterization, is the heavy-handed way in which Walsh handles the moral and ethical dilemmas Sayers carefully developed over the whole of the LPW series. The worst error is perhaps made just in the "wrapping-up" tone that permeates the novel - as if Lord Peter and Harriet had reached their pinnacle, and would not grow any farther. One equally striking, however, is Walsh's incapacity to deal delicately and knowledgeably with the notion of nobility.
Thrones, Dominations may be a decent book. It's not an especially intricate or interesting mystery story - it has none of the technical descriptions and details that characterize Sayers' books. But it's certainly not a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read some, not all, of the singular Dorothy Sayers, and having marveled at the word craft of Jill Paton Walsh (The Emperor's Winding Sheet) I had a spasm of impulsive delight to buy Thrones, Dominations. These two writers are among a handful who use precise, uncommon English to make a good story better. Finding them "working together" was a tickle.
JPW took on quite a challenge knowing there would be scores of DS aficionados for whom even DS coming back as JPW's muse would be insufficient. Thanks to both writers and an especial brava to JPW who fearlessly breathed life into Peter and Harriet once more.
I loved the struggle of the newlyweds designing their own sort of loving relationship. Those reviewers who felt this was too modern might enjoy reading the works of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Margaret Fuller, and many others who wrote about male-female relations. Dorothy Sayers is likely to have been exposed to such philosophy since women's suffrage was a critical issue on both sides of the Atlantic. Harriet Vane, one may be certain, would have spent time considering human rights without being a novel character for her times.
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