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The Bones of Avalon (John Dee Papers #1)

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,216 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
A country divided. A newly crowned, desperately vulnerable young queen. Can one man uncover the secret that will save her throne?

It is 1560, and Elizabeth Tudor has been on the throne for a year. Dr. John Dee, at 32 already acclaimed throughout Europe, is her astrologer and consultant in the hidden arts… a controversial appointment in these days of superstition and religio
ebook, 448 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Minotaur Books (first published 2010)
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Judith Arnopp
Nov 18, 2011 Judith Arnopp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I had never heard of Phil Rickman before I stumbled, quite accidentally, upon this book. As a writer and historian myself, I am a harsh critic and have grown weary of predictable, run of the mill historical novels. Most are unconvincing both in characterisation and plot and when I picked up The Bones of Avalon I did not expect it to be any different. But I was wrong; Phil had me at the first line.

The Bones of Avalon is set in the 1560’s; a time of religious uncertainty, Popish plot and counterpl
Feb 19, 2012 Penny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm so divided over this book. Let's get one thing straight, I didn't like it. I'm not sure whether it has something to do with my high expectations of a novel entitled 'The Bones of Avalon', or if it was simply boring.
It is well-written in so many ways, language, research, sentences that flow smoothly etc etc, which is why it gets two stars rather than one, but it just didn't ignite much of a spark. It seemed to take half the book to set up the story, about 40 pages of excitement (possibly, I h
Apr 05, 2015 Annet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a wondrous story, a mix of history and fantasy and the supernatural. It features Elisabeth I, the Royal astrologer John Dee, Robert Dudley, horseman of the queen and supposedly Elizabeth's lover, but also king Arthur, Morgan LeFay, Avalon, the Zodiac sign, Nostradamus....and more. Story had its ups & downs, but overall, very good. Enjoyed it.
Carol Douglas
Jun 15, 2016 Carol Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading about the Tudors and love the Arthurian legends. This book was a natural for me, though it had more about the former than the latter.
The protagonist is the astrologer John Dee, who many believed to be a conjurer. In this book, he's an intelligent searcher who wishes he could communicate with beings in another world, but can't. As in many books, the protagonist journeys with a friend, in this case Robert Dudley, who was rumored to be a lover of Queen Elizabeth.
Elizabeth appea
Penny Shales
Aug 26, 2011 Penny Shales rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is fiction set round the real life figure of John Dee, alchemist, perhaps conjurer, astrologer to Elizabeth I. The Elizabethan obsession with magic and superstition is vividly portrayed as Dee struggles to fullfil a brief from Cecil to find the bones of King Arthur in Glastonbury. There is a catholic plot and the smell of burning hangs over the entire book. England is still reeling from the bloody reign of Mary Tudor while Dee himself is haunted by dreams of being burned at the stake - a fa ...more

Imagine a season of True Detective set in early Elizabethan England.

It’s well written and well researched and an excellent presentation of a slice of life, but good lord it leaves you with little faith in humanity.

I liked how it showed where everyone was coming from having just survived Henry VIII and Mary I (going so far as to hint the whole country may have had PTSD after those two) and how it showed the people known for being well established members of Elizabethan life – Dr. Dee, Walsingha
As always, Rickman gives us a winner with a compelling plot, characters you care about (and some you hate), suspense and mystery, and great historical fiction.

My only complaint is there were a lot of typos in this edition. Also, nine times out of ten, Henry VIII was referred to as King Harry. I don't know if this was a known nickname for him back in the day, but I could find no mention of it on the internet. Also, I had to brush up on my knowledge of England's kings and queens, and Mary Queen of
Katherine Coble
May 19, 2011 Katherine Coble rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is what leisure reading was made for. A book like this, with real characters, a solid mystery and actual contemplation of philosophy. Please read it. I dont give out five star ratings like candy; I am very exacting about my reading material. This book meets all the criteria I have foe "excellent read" status, and then some.
Julia Phillips
Phil Rickman is one of my favourite authors - I particularly like his series about Merrily Watkins, the Christian Deliverance Minister (Diocesan Exorcist) with the pagan daughter. Rickman writes about liminal places with an insight and sensitivity rarely seen.

The Bones of Avalon features one of England's most sacred places - whether Christian or pagan - and the central character is the fascinating Dr John Dee, Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer, scientist and magus. Also in a leading role is
Apr 27, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-historical
c2010. I agree with the Daily Mail's comments that "Its high time we praised Phil Rickman". Mr Rickman is able to blend magic and mystery into the world without any seeming effort and yet his protagonist manages to calmly investigate these on goings with a scientific air. I think this is the first novel to feature Dr Dee where I actually quite liked him! I like the author's use of dialogue to move the story along and to impart information without feeling bombarded with facts or that it is contri ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Malla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had all the right ingredients for an excellent historical thriller - but my feeling is that the author simply didn't deliver what was to hand. Writers use padding when they either don't have enough good ideas to keep the story going or when publishers are forcing them to stretch a perfectly good 70,000 words to 120,000. At least that's what this book felt like to me. I believe the author's heavy padding and slow pace killed what could have been a superb story. There was some beautiful ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Dieleserin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. John Dee – Wissenschaftler und vertrauter von Elizabeth I. – wird an einem regnerischen Morgen zu einem mysteriösen Vorfall gerufen. Passanten haben am Ufer der Themse einen Sarg gefunden, der eine verkrüppelte, aus Wachs gefertigte, Leiche enthält. Es wird vermutet, dass es sich dabei um eine Anspielung auf die Königin handelt – ein böses Omen.
Wenig später wird Dee damit beauftragt mit seinem langjährigen Freund und Schüler Robert Dudley nach Glastonbury aufzubrechen, um die Gebeine des leg
There are few Elizabethan figures more infamous and mysterious than John Dee, the Virgin Queen's personal astrologer. Author Phil Rickman imagines a young John Dee, and sends him to Glastonbury, reputed resting place of King Arthur, on a secret quest. Rickman ups the ante by making Dee's cohort none other than Robert Dudley, the queen's favorite suitor. It isn't long before a kidnapping, a gruesome murder, and a blossoming love affair make this quest a perilous one.

Any novel set among the ruins
Jamie Collins
An enjoyable historical mystery featuring Dr. John Dee, who was a scientist, mathematician, astrologer and occultist of the Tudor age, when that list of disciplines was entirely reconcilable. He was consulted by Queen Elizabeth I and she has a nice cameo in the book.

This is very well written, although the slow pace that I love in Rickman’s Merrily Watkins novels didn’t work quite as well for me here. I liked the pseudo-Elizabethan speech patterns, which are not accurate (for reasons of clarity,
Louise Miller
Feb 21, 2012 Louise Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing, well researched book.

The Queen’s ‘sorcerer’, her astrology, Dr John Dee is sent on a special mission. Accompanied by Sir Robert Dudley, a favourite of the Queen’s, and believed to be her lover, Dr Dee travels to Glastonbury to unravel the mysteries of the lost bones of King Arthur.

It is well written and a different sort of mystery to the thriller novels that usually line the shelves. Rickman has a fluid writing style and throws in some excellently written one liners that are evid
Judy King
Apr 17, 2011 Judy King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Now I need to do some's been so long since I've delved into anything that even borders on Merlin and Arthur (this just overlaps a tad) that now I'm wondering if the legends promoted here are/were common...Was Joseph of Arimetia really Jesus' uncle -- wasn't he the one who provided the grave? Was it really believed that Jesus had been in Wales/England as a child? Were the contents of English abbeys sent to France for safekeeping? Did the law after Henry VIII fine countrymen for NOT ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another well written story set during the early reign of Queen Elizabeth. With the people of England torn between the Church of England and the Papal Church, comes the central character of John Dee, known throughout history as the Queen's Conjurer. A man of high education and a strong faith in the mystic, I first came across this true historical character in S J Parris' Prophecy.

In The Bones of Avalon a much younger John Dee must navigate his way through superstition, murder and greed to uneart
Aug 09, 2013 Maylin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this at least as much as the Merrily Watkins books. Phil Rickman evokes place and the power of the land on people better than I have ever read elsewhere. It was enhanced for me because having lived in the area for 20 years I was familiar with all the places.

It struck me how this authentic rendition of a Tudor Glastonbury bears so much resemblance to the town today! Still full of weirdos (in the nicest possible sense).

The main characters were sympathetically drawn and easy to empathise
Feb 09, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent historical mystery, this book tells of the search for the bones of King Arthur.
Queen Elizabeth I has been on the throne for a year and wants the bones of King Arthur (who she believes is her ancestor) to be found and brought to London where they will be re-buried with deserving ceremony. A young Dr John Dee and his friend Lord Robert Dudley are sent to Glastonbury to find them. Plot twists that include witchcraft and religion kept me reading, and guessing, right to the last page. Hi
Oct 11, 2012 Elijay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Phil Rickman for the Merrily Watkins stories. Snugglying up reading the ghost mysteries on a wintry evening is the best way to sepnd those long cold nights. However I started reading Rickman when I came across The Chalice, which I loved for his portrayal of life and characters in Glastonbury. In this novel he does even better, by exploring ledgends and deplicting life Totain the era of Queen Elizabeth I. Totally amazing!
Dec 08, 2010 JackieB rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Enjoyable historical mystery with lots of twists and turns and a hint of the supernatural thrown in. If I'm totally honest I think I slightly prefer Phil Rickman's Merrily Watson series but that may just be because I'm familiar with them and I really like the main characters in them. This is still a good enjoyable book though. If he decides to do any more historical books based on this one I'd definitely read them.
Theresa Crater
Jan 14, 2012 Theresa Crater rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, those Brits really know how to write English, regardless that Rushdie says the whole world owns the langauge nowadays. A historical, metaphysical thriller. John Dee is called to Glastonbury to find the bones of Arthur. Becomes a target and a dupe. Takes a little psychedelic adventure and falls in love. So did I.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Radi Radev
Dec 16, 2014 Radi Radev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Отдавна не бях чел книга с толкова великолепни описания, едновременно съчетаващи рисунки и поезия. Авторът Фил Рикман прилича на бижутер, който шлифова думите до съвършенство за да можем да гледаме с кристална яснота, използвайки призмата на нашето читателско въображение.
Джон Дий e един от най-великите учени на Великобритания за всички времена. Също така е изключително популярна фигура в областта на окултното и езотериката.
Доктор Дий заедно с граф Дъдли са изпратени в Гластънбъри за да търсят гр
May 26, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
A few months ago I stumbled across The Heresy of Doctor Dee by Phil Rickman and really enjoyed it, but realised as I was reading it that it was a sequel. This book, The Bones of Avalon is the first book about Dr John Dee, astrologer and consultant to Elizabeth I.

The Bones of Avalon sees John Dee and Robert Dudley sent to Glastonbury with the task of finding the bones of King Arthur and returning them to the Queen. Their mission is to be carried out in secret and so they travel under assumed name
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I read this book on Kindle and therein hangs an important detail... I don't read my Kindle except when I'm travelling (I like the feel of a good book). I don't read when we're taking off, landing, eating... sometimes I don't read whilst I'm just looking out of the window. I rarely read when I'm actually on holiday because I'm too busy exploring, looking, eating, drinking, chatting.... So this book had been being read for some time (in calendar terms) in a very sporadic way. The fact that I manag ...more
M.G. Mason
Dr John Dee is a (real life) lawyer in Tudor England - the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I to be precise - and he likes to dabble in the occult and study apparent relics. He is highly sceptical of most of the artefacts that come across his path so when he is approached by an envoy of the Queen on a most unusual matter, he is intrigued but not really surprised that she is seeking a mystical object. In real life he was an occultist, astronomer, astrologer and alchemist who received patrona ...more

I found the beginning of this book quite tepid, although this may partly be down to the fact that I listened to it must of it using the kindle text-to-speech feature, which is quite a monotonous voice with very dodgy pronunciation at times and that can make it quite easy to miss odd details. But, to me, the beginning of the book seemed to involve a lot of the main character whinging: that he has no money, that people think he isn't to be trusted due to the nature of his work, that he he h
Apr 04, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr John Dee has already experienced much in his life by the time Elizabeth I has gained the throne. By his early twenties he is one of Europe's leading mathmeticians and an expert in astrology. He was introduced to court in the reign of Edward VI, but was lucky to survive Mary - he still has dreams about escaping his fate and nightmares about the burnings... Elizabeth has encouraged his love of learning, but not financially, and others view what he does as sorcery. This is a very atmospheric and ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Jodi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not sure
Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres - especially Tudor England but I found this book to be rather dry. Basically, Elizabeth Tudor has Dr. John Dee (whom I had never heard of until this book), her astrologer, help her. Dee has to go to Glastonbury to find the missing bones of King Arthur to prove Elizabeth as the rightful heir to the throne of England(read the book and don't understand why these ancient bones would prove it - oh well). I'd have to go look in my photo album, but I thin ...more
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aka Will Kingdom, Thom Madley.

Phil Rickman, born in Lancashire, has won awards for his TV and radio journalism. After five acclaimed novels, he introduced the fascinating Merrily Watkins series with The Wine of Angels. He is married and lives on the Welsh Border.
More about Phil Rickman...

Other Books in the Series

John Dee Papers (2 books)
  • The Heresy of Dr Dee

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