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Thoughtful, thought-provoking and intelligent: mind-blowingly good. Actually, Harper deserves the latter's success - and more, as Harper is comfortably the better writer. It is exceedingly high-class entertainment. Cooper, author of Vengeance in Mind. The information about The Orpheus Descent shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks.

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If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added. Reader Reviews Click here and be the first to review this book! Tom Harper has written eleven historical thrillers - including Lost Temple and Secrets of the Dead - which have been translated into twenty languages.

He lives in York, England, with his wife and two sons. A vivid novel about the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. Reader Reviews. The true story of one man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz from within. BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. The mystery surrounding Lily's disappearance is tangled, but Harper teases out the knots without leading the reader by the nose.

Jonah is surrounded by frustrating characters: Lily's Oxford friends who seem to be hiding things left, right, and centre.

Euro Crime: Review: The Orpheus Descent by Tom Harper

None of them came off as very likeable, except for Julian, as you'd expect more of a sympathetic reaction to Jonah's plight instead of the rather callous brushing off he receives, telling him to let it go, because Lily has simply left him. Similarly, Lily's mother and sister are as easily dismissive of Jonah, despite not having spoken to Lily themselves. In fact, other than Jonah, Lily, and Jonah's unexpected ally, Ren, the contemporary timeline is rather devoid of sympathetic characters.

In essence, this serves to emphasize Jonah's increasing isolation as he searches for Lily. The contemporary timeline has more immediacy to it, which is logical due to its thriller-nature. However, even if Plato's timeline is of a more historical bent, it is still an exciting read, and no less enthralling than its companion. In The Orpheus Descent , Harper blends historical fiction and thriller elements with classical Greek mythology, which ends in a gripping denouement in which the mystery of both timelines is revealed in a sequence that sucked me in and wouldn't let go for the last four chapters of the book.

While one of the books on my Anticipated Books List for the first half of the year, this book exceeded all my expectations and while this is the first book I've read by Tom Harper, I definitely hope it isn't my last. With The Orpheus Descent , Harper has firmly placed himself on my must-read list. This book was provided for review by the publisher. Jun 02, Joseph rated it it was ok. A tale of two men. One adventures through ancient Greece, fencing with thoughts. The other is a bit of a modern day dullard I never connected with.

I removed one star because of the latter but I did genuinely enjoy the other bits. Tom Harper has deftly blended fact, history, conjecture, maths, music, philosophy and modern day intrigue into a very cohesive whole. The narrative flits between Jonah's current search for his missing wife, Plato's historical search for his friend and an elusive book that allegedly shows the entrance to the underworld, and the days leading up to Jonah and Lily meeting and falling in love.

I wouldn't say the plot is as fast moving as something like the Da Vinci Code but it's as mysterious and intr Tom Harper has deftly blended fact, history, conjecture, maths, music, philosophy and modern day intrigue into a very cohesive whole. I wouldn't say the plot is as fast moving as something like the Da Vinci Code but it's as mysterious and intriguing.

The Orpheus Descent is more a book to be experienced and savoured like a good gourmet meal rather than rushed through like fast food. Some of the discussions on philosophy went a bit over my head, I've never studied any philosophy, but the main gist of it seemed to come down to one main thing: would a good man do something bad to do good?

Plato is searching for love, beauty and truth very bohemian! There are gods and goddesses, secret artefacts, people trying to prevent Jonah from finding both the artefacts and his wife, but Jonah is a man who never gives up. The author has taken Jonah's grief and shown it to us on the page, from every time he opens the door to his empty flat, wondering if this time he'll see her, or the way his heart jolts when the phone rings, hoping it is Lily.

It's a wonderful, engaging read and makes me want to learn a bit more about philosophy. I'd heard of Plato and Socrates, but that was about it. This book brings them and their philosophies vividly to life and it's a book you think about long after the last page is turned. Review copy from amazon vine UK Aug 05, Victoria rated it it was ok Shelves: mystery-thriller , italy , fictional-history.

This mystery opens slowly - eventually weaving together its past and present mysteries. But this is not a quick path by any means. The pacing drags on in both plots. In the historical section, Plato narrates his journey through Italy in search of his friend - surviving many mishaps shipwrecks, falling bricks, etc while in the modern storyline rockstar Jonah searches for his archaeologist wife, who has disappeared along with a golden tablet that gives instructions to journey to the Afterworld. The modern storyline is the stronger of the two in many ways with characters that feel more authentic and well-rounded, though the historical sections they alternate are fascinating in their own way and feel well-researched though there are some definite distracting vernacular phrases and such that stick out as anachronisms.

It is a nice blend of history and mystery, though it unfolds at a pretty glacial pace. As it approaches five hundred pages, it is easy to become somewhat impatient with both plot lines, though the book as a whole becomes more engrossing as the plotlines begin to overlap and connect. This is my first experience with Harper, and while I did enjoy this one, I am not dying to read his earlier novels.

The female characters, in particular, are underdeveloped. This is even more frustrating in the modern storyline. I certainly will not be holding my breath for more from this author. Sep 13, Sara rated it it was ok. The historical details felt convincing, but I just never got into this one. I had a hard time relating to the characters, the plot turns felt forced, and the entire story felt like it was trying to build to a big reveal that never came. The story centers on two searches one in each of the dual timelines for characters we've never met.

The historical search was fine but the modern storyline fell flat; although we meet Lily through multiple flashbacks, her character was two-dimensional and I nev The historical details felt convincing, but I just never got into this one. The historical search was fine but the modern storyline fell flat; although we meet Lily through multiple flashbacks, her character was two-dimensional and I never felt any concern for her or Jonah.

In each timeline, we're introduced to a far-too-convenient female character with a flimsy backstory. The central villains are almost afterthoughts; we don't even learn of their existence until more than halfway through the story, and one we barely even meet at all. The climax was somehow completely random and utterly predictable at the same time.

Overall, it felt hastily thrown together, too shallow and underdeveloped to even be a fun page-turner. Jul 10, Pamela rated it it was ok. Parallel story lines set two millennia apart. Two men, each seeking someone who has disappeared after encountering a mysterious grave tablet with instructions on how to navigate a Persephone journey through an otherworld.

Ancient philosophers, mystics and a modern archaeologist endangered by an unscrupulous foundation seeking the totem. Interesting premise, great elements but dramatic arcs don't mesh organically. Minimal character development, flat storytelling and cardboard interesting concept. Minimal character development, flat storytelling and cardboard characters. Jul 03, Adite rated it it was amazing. Simply brilliant. This is the first book I have read by Tom Harper and I'm well and truly bowled over by not just his storytelling but his magnificent chutzpah!

Imagine trying to blend Greek philosophy into an action-thriller. And imagine being able to pull it off without boring the heck out of his readers!

I am going to read every book that Mr. Ha Brilliant. Harper has written! Very interesting at first but the ending was too confusing for me I really liked the beginning of this book.

Descent Music for Orchestra from a New Orpheus by W Young

And even further in it was very interesting. But as it started to wrap up I don't know, I guess I'm not smart enough to understand what the author was trying to say. So I can't really recommend it and I can't say that I enjoyed it. I couldn't even tell you what actually happened in the end to resolve the conflicts. The final chapters were too confusing. Left me saying , huh? Jul 13, Victoria rated it it was amazing. Easily a new favorite book for me. The story is of philosophy, love, tragedy, and adventure. The parallel stories of Jonah in modern times looking for his wife, and Plato in ancient times looking not just for his friend and lost mentor, but also for truth, keep you hooked and thinking the whole way through.

The entire last third of the book I just couldn't put it down! I definitely recommend it. Sep 17, Anita Mazur Williams rated it liked it. There were duel story lines that were both very well written. However, the back and forth drove me crazy. I started skipping ahead to stay with one story. Then I'd backup to catch up with the other story.

Not a way I prefer to read stories, but it worked this time.

The Orpheus Descent by Tom Harper

Jun 25, Kim Gasparini rated it it was ok. Interesting concept, but the development of the story lacked depth. The ending was somewhat anticlimactic. This isn't a book that I needed or wanted to think about or dissect after it ended, which, given the subject matter, is odd. Feb 25, Sydney rated it liked it Shelves: historic. Really enjoyed the two time lines unfolding in parallel plus the philosophical questions. A rather boring read. Dec 25, Sadie rated it it was ok. Too slow - drags on and on The plot was good - but very slow paced.

Dec 06, Scott rated it it was ok Shelves: ancient-greece , fantasy , fiction , historical-fiction-ancient , thriller. Tom Harper's "The Orpheus Descent" walks a delicate line between two narratives - the modern day tale of the musician Jonah attempting to find his apparently kidnapped wife Lily in Greece and the ancient tale of Plato's mysterious trip to Italy.

While each story has its intriguing twists and turns, they fail as parallel narratives and the culminating events - parallel descents into the Underworld - fail to cohere. The concluding chapters are epic in scale and scope, but more perplexing than ri Tom Harper's "The Orpheus Descent" walks a delicate line between two narratives - the modern day tale of the musician Jonah attempting to find his apparently kidnapped wife Lily in Greece and the ancient tale of Plato's mysterious trip to Italy.

The concluding chapters are epic in scale and scope, but more perplexing than riveting. This is my first Tom Harper novel, and I admire both the ambition of the project and his extensive research.


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An accomplished author, Harper surely knew the challenges of placing himself in the mind of Western Civilization's leading philosopher. For much of the book, Harper's chapters told from Plato's perspective are the most enjoyable. Plato starts the novel leaving Athens, still bereft over the city's feckless execution of his mentor Socrates. He intends to travel to Italy in search of a book, but really wants to escape the memory of Socrates' death at the hands of far inferior men.

Once in Italy, Plato finds that the seemingly-innocent quest for a book is actually focused on something much deeper - insight into Truth, Beauty, and Immortality. It is this trip to Italy that many modern-day philosophers mark as the turning point in Plato's career - his writings from this point on become much more profound.

In the modern-day tale, Jonah's band has finished his tour and he desperately wants to reunite with his beloved Lily, toiling away on a secretive dig in Greece. Unknown to Jonah, Lily has gotten herself mixed up in a race for clues to Plato's discoveries in Italy - clues codified in little golden tablets. Jonah arrives in Greece to find Lily gone, seemingly without a trace.

And thus starts Jonah's quest to reunite with his wife. These parallel stories never really cohere. Plato and Jonah are not searching for the same thing, and Jonah is not a modern-day Plato. While Plato is often in a fog during his trip, Jonah is just downright befuddled. With Plato, it's a nice little trick so that Harper doesn't need to be a Plato-level genius in every chapter where he's telling Plato's story. With Jonah, he eventually becomes nothing more than a dogged pursuer - enduring physical torments beyond measure but without any real inspiration.

After a couple hundred pages of Jonah's pains, I stopped caring. Plato also endures much - shipwrecks, deaths of comrades, various agonies - but is definitely the more developed of our two leads. Clocking in at well over pages, it is surprising that the titular descent into the underworld does not occur until the last few pages of the novel. By then, my patience had worn thin.

Harper writes these scenes with power and majesty, and I'm sure there's some valuable symbolism in there I found a few pale echoes of Dante's Divine Comedy , but I didn't have the patience to give those pages the attention required. Ultimately, the imbalance between Plato and Jonah undermines the whole. It's never explained why Jonah is on a parallel track with Plato, and they do not share goals. I would have dropped the Jonah storyline altogether - perhaps used the modern-day Lily an archeologist as the frame for Plato's narrative, uncovering new hints about his story, but making Plato the sole protagonist.

After finishing the novel, I'm tempted to crack some of my Plato from college. Jan 21, N. Tom has obviously studied it in great depth and his knowledge of the subject shines through. The premise is also quite simple. In the modern-day present, archaeologist Lily Barnes has unearthed a golden tablet. The thing about this one is it actually specifies how to get there. Then she disappears, along with the tablet itself. Husband Jonah sets out to find her. In the ancient past, philosopher Plato is on his way to Italy to find his friend Agathon.

But Agathon has disappeared - and guess what? He seems to have found a golden tablet. Plato follows in his footsteps and becomes convinced that by doing so he can unlock the mysteries of the universe. Rate this book. The greatest thinker in human history, Plato, travels to Italy seeking initiation into the Orphic mysteries: the secret to the Underworld known only to the gods. But the knowledge he discovers is terrifying.

Two millennia later, twelve ancient golden tablets secreted in museums around the world hold sacred information known to only a few - the pathway the dead must follow to the afterlife. And archaeologist Lily Barnes has just found another on a dig in southern Italy. But this tablet is far more valuable - and dangerous - than the rest. It holds the key to hell itself. Now, Lily is gone and her husband, Jonah, is desperate to find her. He knows she is alive - and in mortal danger - and he's willing to go to hell itself to find her.

But the deeper he descends on this dark and twisting journey, the more Jonah's fear rises, for not everyone who travels where Lily has gone will find their way back Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.


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  8. If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it. Along the way to a resolution of both suspenseful plotlines, Harper explores the fitness of philosophers as rulers, besides presenting a convincing portrait of Plato's time. Thoughtful, thought-provoking and intelligent: mind-blowingly good. Actually, Harper deserves the latter's success - and more, as Harper is comfortably the better writer.