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The charismatic Jean Brassard provides the lilting French accent underpinning this performance of the historical fantasy (based on the written record and rumors surrounding Pope Sylvester II) of how a farmer’s son from a small French town makes the unlikely ascension to the "Throne of St. Peter". As Europe struggles to emerge from "the Dark Ages", young Gerbert attempts to escape the fields, studying mathematics, astronomy, and, with the help of a religious mentor, the magic that will help him claim for himself the apex of religious and political power.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Cliff on 11-26-13
Hard to categorize but good.
What did you love best about Ars Magica?
The attention to historic detail and the mores and predjudices of the era.
What other book might you compare Ars Magica to and why?
None, this is definitely a creature unto itself.
What aspect of Jean Brassard’s performance would you have changed?
Sorry, but his accent is hard to get used to during the novel. His french accent was extremely pronounced at the start of the book which made it hard to understand. After a while he turns the French accent down a few notches and the narraration is much better.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Any additional comments?
This is a book that is hard to place into a genre. It is definitely fantasy but more of a historical novel than that. It isn't my normal cup of tea, but the story is well done and it works.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Elisabeth Carey on 06-01-18
The Pope who mastered magic
A real, historical person, Gerbert de Aurillac started life as a farmer's son in an unimportant town in tenth-century France. He died Pope Sylvester II in 1003.
Along the way, he became an important scholar, teacher, mathematician, and by tenth-century standards, scientist.
According to legend, he may also have been a master of the magical arts. This is that story, starting with young Gerbert meeting his first tutor in the arts of magic.
This is a good, solid, engrossing story of mediaevel magic, politics, and history, with really excellent characters. Tarr as always knows the history more than well enough to do believable but interesting things with it, and make a stronger story overall.
Gerbert, his friend Richer, his rival Arnulf, his first teacher of magic, the Saracen Ibrahim, Emperor Otto II, and the other significant characters all have the complexities, mixed motives, strengths and weaknesses. For this reread, I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator is very good.
I bought this audiobook.