Giordano Bruno Series by SJ Parris – A Review

Published by Harper

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

NB: This picture is missing the first novel in this series, Heresy, but my review stands for all of them. 

Set in Elizabethan England, Giordano Bruno is an ex-Dominican Monk who was excommunicated for reading Erasmus and his controversial beliefs such as stating that the Earth orbits the sun. Handsome and charming, Bruno is soon taken under Elizabeth I’s spycatcher Sir Francis Walsingham’s wing as he has a penchant for finding trouble, and discovering the gruesome truth behind it.

Historical crime/thriller is quickly becoming a favourite genre of mine thanks to my love of Sherlock Holmes and my quest to find similar stories. This series is perfect as not only does the protagonist solve crimes, plots and political intrigues, it is also set in one of my favourite time periods. Parris really brings Elizabethan England to life through Bruno as he can compare it to the life he had on the Continent, which leads to vivid descriptions. Bruno in an extremely likable protagonist and his close friendship with Sir Philip Sidney (Walsingham’s son-in-law, no less) adds a comedic element to the stories. The prose is absorbing and really easy to read. Each book sees Bruno travel to a different place and face new obstacles, with familiar friends and foes alike cropping up to cause trouble. We meet historical favourites such as Francis Drake, the Duke of Norfolk and John Dee, as well as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth herself. Action packed and often heartbreaking, the series is gripping and certainly leaves the reader wanting more.

The historical elements are also very interesting. Giordano Bruno was a real person and these novels are based on his life. Of course we only know certain facts about his life such as the dates he visited particular places and some of his beliefs, yet Parris has taken the bits of history we do know and spun them into fantastic stories. I must say I have since looked into his life and my discoveries of real life Bruno have made me even more eager to read the next books when they are published, as I am sure SJ Parris will continue to follow true to his story. Even if perhaps there are some areas I hope she won’t…But we’ll have to wait and see what she has got in store.

Perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction but is looking for more of a plot than merely following the life of a historical figure/event. The crime aspects of these novels really are intriguing and leave you guessing. Personally, I enjoyed Sacrilege the most as I found the link with Thomas Beckett fascinating! Fans of CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series will also love these while they wait for that next installment.

Buy the books here:

The Secret Dead #0.5 (novella) 

Heresy #1

Prophecy #2

Sacrilege #3

Treachery #4

Conspiracy is due to be released early 2016.


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