This is the first book in the series of the same name by Stuart Clark.
Quick Review (read on for the full review)
A fantastic historical novel about science, religion and politics – engaging, illuminating, educational. 4 / 5
Summary (from back of book)
At the dawn of the seventeenth century Europe is a dark and dangerous place. As war rages across the continent and men’s immortal souls are traded for mortal lives, two astronomers risk everything to reveal the truth behind the universe’s grand design.
When Johannes Kepler discovers that the stars and planets move not to the whims of angels but according to natural laws, Galileo Galilei proclaims his own startling discoveries. Ultimately both men become caught in a web of intrigue and face persecution as heretics in one of the darkest yet most enlightening periods of European history.
My favourite quote from the book is far too long to reproduce here, and without keeping in its entirety, it’s meaning becomes lost (in my opinion). So I thought I would post a snippet of the final sentence that has stuck with me in the weeks that have passed since I read the book:
“…and one is left to wander about lost in the dark labyrinth of the sky.”
And now for a complete quote:
“I’m an astronomer. I look at the heavens. Would you ask a book-keeper what makes him count money?”
First of all, I really love the cover of this book. I know I don’t usually mention front covers in my reviews, but I do think it’s important to point out the one’s that work well with the story they are supposed to visually represent. This is one of them.
The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth is an engaging, thought-provoking read that reminds us what early scientists had to go through in order to literally change how the earth and the heavens were perceived during their lifetime. An aspect of the story that really came through was the danger you and those around you could find yourselves in if you failed to openly endorse state or religiously approved science even though you knew it to be wrong and have the evidence to support it. Possessing knowledge really could be dangerous.
The writing style of the author is very readable, combining fact and fiction to produce a dramatic story. It was interesting to read about the personal lives of both Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, as well as their discoveries. As the story unfolds we get to see how their dedication to science impacted their families and how both men struggled to survive amongst the turbulent events of the period.
The book is full of vivid descriptions of locations, people and religion as well as, of course, astronomy and the universe. Some passages felt a little heavy but that is to be expected, I think, when focusing on the complexities involved in the subject matter and what was happening in Europe at the time; their is much detail to incorporate into the story if it is to remain authentic to history, which The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth does.
With having so many book series on the go at the moment, I have been trying to avoid starting any new ones. It wasn’t until I reached the end of this one that I learned it is part of a trilogy. However, with most multiple-book series, it is the characters and storyline that move through the additional instalments. With this one, it is the subject so that in book two, The Sensorium of God we have a new cast list (Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke and Edmund Halley) and a new location, Stuart London. This means that the books can be read as standalone novels. That being said though, I am very eager to read book 2. This is not a book I’ll happily part with as part of my “Read, Review and Re-Home” policy; no, this book I’m keeping.