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 desires...beauty, 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.
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