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Publisher's Summary

From the novelist with Antonia Fraser's authenticity and Anne Rice's allure comes another "highly enjoyable romp" (Newsday), with a millennial twist.
In The Oracle Glass and The Serpent Garden, Judith Merkle Riley enchanted listeners with rich, pause-resisting re-creations of eras past, wicked thumbnail sketches of power players, riotous action, delicious mystery and romance, luminous prose, and feisty heroines with a feminist sensibility. The Master of All Desires has it all, with an extra helping of the occult, clad in Riley's hallmark style and wit.
It is 1556 and the queen's astrologer, the prophet Nostradamus has uncovered a secret that could destroy the kingdom of France. The queen, Catherine de Medicis, a dabbler in black magic, has decided to get rid of the king's mistress by seeking out the legendary Undying Head of Menander the Magus, known as the Master of All Desires. But she does not know that evil befalls all those who wish upon this accursed object. And the head, in its coffer, has fallen into the possession of a charming, wryly perceptive but stubborn young woman: Sybille Artaud de la Roche, a bluestocking poet who needs it to obtain all her, genius, and a dashing, intelligent cavalier. The three-way battle that ensues - a prophet who scorns poetry, a woman in love, and a sly and ruthless queen - is set against the rich, detailed tapestry of a nation on the verge of civil war and a lively constellation of famous figures clustered around Nostradamus, seer of the millennium.
©2013 Judith Merkle Riley (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Nikky on 03-25-14

Great story, but not so great narration

Where does The Master of All Desires rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I'd say fairly high. The plot was great, with the twists and interesting characters I've come to expect from JMR. A little history, a little intrigue, a little mystery, and some unredictable romance, it was a good book I was certainly driven to finish.

What did you like best about this story?

The wit of the characters. They never let you down in humor, cunning or determination. And they were never fully good or fully bad; they were believable.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Hollis McCarthy?

Oh gods, she was awful. I almost gave up in the beginning. She makes poor Sabille sound like a complete airhead in the beginning, and all the men sound ridiculous, but luckily the story kept me going and eventually the narrator toned the every-single-word breathlessness down a bit and it was easier to listen to. If you can just suffer through, I think the story will catch you like it did me and you can listen past the narrator. One small point in her favor is that she didn't butcher the French pronunciations.

Who was the most memorable character of The Master of All Desires and why?

Oh, such a close call here. Nostradamus was fantastic, his familiar was wonderful, but I think it was the Aunt Pauline who stole the show.

Any additional comments?

This was a great listen, even past the awful narration. Stick with it and by the end I think you will be pleased you did.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Melonie on 07-14-13

Second half was much better than the first.

Would you try another book from Judith Merkle Riley and/or Hollis McCarthy?

Yes to Judith Merkle - No to Hollis McCarthy

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Good mix of fantasy and historic characters

Did Hollis McCarthy do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Heavens no! Couldn't stand some of the male voices she uses, made them sound like imbeciles!

Any additional comments?

Almost quit listening about Chapter 3, story line developed way too slowly. It picked up after that thank goodness.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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