Barcelona hat ihn geprägt, zum Schreiben animiert und inspiriert. Das in 30 Sprachen übersetzte Werk des Spaniers Carlos Ruiz Zafón (geboren 1964), insbesondere seine Bestseller "Der Schatten des Windes" und "Das Spiel des Engels", sind von seiner Geburtsstadt nicht zu trennen. Zafón ist ein glänzender Erzähler. Seine Bücher, aufwendig und genau recherchiert, erreichen ihren Reiz durch den Wechsel von Spannung und Fantasie, durch die Neugier auf die Figuren, ihr Leben, Lieben und Scheitern. Es sind grandiose Gestalten - Helden und Schurken, Glücksritter und Pechvögel. Der Autor lebt in Los Angeles als Werbetexter, Drehbuchautor, Journalist und Romancier. Weitere bekannte Bücher sind "Der dunkle Wächter" und "Der Fürst des Nebels".
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Ein weiteres tolles Buch von Carlos Ruiz Zafón. In diesem Buch werden viele Zusammenhänge aus den zwei Vorgängerbüchern aufgedeckt. Es ist somit empfehlenswert die ersten beiden Teile (Der Schatten des Windes und Das Spiel des Engels) zuvor zu lesen.
Ich habe mir das Buch "The Prisoner of Heaven" von Carlos Ruiz Zafon auf Grund des Covers bestellt, da es mit dem Blau/Goldenen Rahmen sehr schön aussieht. Mir wurde das Cover bei der Taschenbuch ausgabe so angezeit, genau wie bei der Kindel-Version. Leider war das in der Realität nicht der Fall! Schade!
Das Paket mit dem Buch kam leider nie bei mir an. Allerdings schiebe ich diese Tatsache auf die Post und auf das Weihnachtschaos. Positiv dagegen fand ich die sehr freundliche Kundenbetreuung auf meine Nachfragen und schließlich die problemlose Rückabwicklung inklusive Geld zurück innerhalb von wenigen Tagen.
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Goodness, it feels like ages since I visited the Cemetery of Forgotten Books!13. Juli 2012
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
And here's the awesome thing... Within mere pages I was immersed in Ruiz Zafón's Barcelona. I love authors whose use of language is as idiosyncratic as a fingerprint, and Ruiz Zafón is one. I'd recognize his style immediately, whether his name was on the cover or not. He has stated in the past that the four books that make up this tetralogy can be read in any order, and that was true enough for the first two books, but not, perhaps, for this one. Here's why:
Bookseller and bibliophile Daniel Sempere was at the heart of The Shadow of the Wind. And while there was plenty of intriguing overlap, The Angel's Game told the story of writer David Martín in an earlier timeline. The Prisoner of Heaven is the perfect bridge between these two books. It's told in two different times, and it picks up on the stories of both Daniel and David after the ends of their prior novels. And while there are many, many connections between these two men, the one at the heart of this novel is Daniel's best friend and bookstore employee, Fermín Romero de Torres.
In the present day of the novel (1958), a visit to Sempere & Sons by a disquieting stranger who leaves a gift for Fermín is the catalyst for the older man to at last come clean about his past. Flashing back to 1939, Fermín tells Daniel about his imprisonment during the war. That was where Fermín met David Martín, and the man had a significant impact on his life. There's more to the tale, of course, but that's all I'm telling you.
If this novel has a flaw, it's that it's a super-quick read. And it's just so completely enjoyable that it will leave you aching for book four. As for this book, aside from its shortness, it is notably less complex than the prior offerings. Less complex on its own, that is. The way it fits into the puzzle of the larger story is pretty freakin' fantastic.
As a writer, Ruiz Zafón's strengths and weaknesses are fairly consistent. As noted above, at the heart of this novel are characters we already know. They feel well-fleshed to the point that I should be able to recognize them on the street. Time spent at Sempere & Sons feels like visiting old friends. Ruiz Zafón's prose continues to be somewhat florid, but you know, I like it. Not every author is going to write: "Outside, a cold Monday awaited him, sprinkled with snowflakes that drifted in the air and settled on passers-by like glass spiders hanging from invisible threads." If you're reading this review, you've already formed an opinion on the man's prose. Love him or hate him, expect more of the same.
And if you haven't already formed that opinion, my advice is to read the first two books in either order and then return to this one. As for me, I'm waiting with mixed emotions for the conclusion to this fantastic quartet of novels. I want it! I want it! But I don't want it to be over.
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Rushed and Disappointing Effort20. August 2012
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I suspect my review will be unpopular here on Amazon, so let me start my review by stating that I have read both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game multiple times, and love them both. Perhaps because I enjoyed the previous two novels so much, I found Zafon's effort in The Prisoner of Heaven utterly disappointing.
Zafon always stated that he intended the novels commencing with The Shadow of the Wind to be stand-alone works, interconnected by various characters and, most importantly, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Thus, a reader could start with any one of the novels and jump into an intriguing mystery story -- chronology is not important. Zafon previously stated the following:
"I never meant to write a sequential saga, or a series of sequels of sorts. The idea is to write stories around this literary universe centered around the cemetery of forgotten books, exploring this gothic, mysterious universe through different characters and storylines. As you say, perhaps it would have been more commercialy advisable to do that, to write a straight sequel and pick up the story where we left it, but it was never my idea to do so and I think it is more interesting to play around with the narrative spaces and lines to pull the reader into a fictional universe that plays by its own rules."
Zafon has, apparently, now scrapped this idea. Where the first two novels are marvelous mysteries in their own right (who is Julian Carax; who is the "boss"?) -- The Prisoner of Heaven is merely filler, nothing more than an explanation of elements of the first two novels and a set-up for the final novel. The Prisoner of Heaven doesn't contain a riveting mystery, it doesn't develop characters (indeed all of the major characters are persons we've met before), it doesn't add to the mysterious qualities of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and (most importantly) it doesn't have a satisfactory conclusion in its own right. Rather, the novel does two things: (i) it attempts to resolve matters/mysteries from the first two books (matters and mysteries that, in my opinion, didn't need a resolution); and (ii) apparently sets up the next novel.
With respect to the first point, the mystery surrounding The Angel's Game (whether the "boss" existed at all or whether David was indeed insane and had imagined the entire episode) was completely obliterated by this book. Zafon sums up one of his most intriguing characters (David Martin) in the simplest and most uninteresting manner possible -- he's crazy, end of story. Just like that, all the mystery is drained from the otherwise superb The Angel's Game. I guess Zafon wants the reader to just forget about the epilogue to The Angel's Game or pretend the events in the epilogue never occurred, as it is completely contradicted by The Prisoner of Heaven (or, I guess, it can all be unsatisfactorily explained away simply by saying Martin is crazy).
Likewise, now Zafon in The Prisoner of Heaven (in my opinion) reinvents both Fermin and Isabella. Now the chance meeting of a vagabond and a young boy was always meant to happen; now Isabella's death was no accident (although the resolution to this part of the story did not occur in The Prisoner of Heaven -- I thought these books could stand on their own?). I would have preferred not to know whether the "boss" existed or was a figment of David's imagination. I would have preferred to believe that Fermin and Daniel met and became friends by chance, rather than some elaborate vow as a result of a prison escape straight out of the Count of Monte Cristo. Isn't that part of what made the mysteries of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game so entertaining? Now characters have been reformed and mystery obliterated for the sake of simply moving the story along.
In summary, The Prisoner of Heaven felt like a very rushed attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the previous two novels. The idea of independent, though interconnected, mystery stories located in Barcelona and centered around the Cemetery of Forgotten Books has been abandoned, as I have to assume that the fourth novel will resolve the lingering issues brought up in The Prisoner of Heaven(did I mention that the Prisoner of Heaven doesn't really contain a conclusion).
Zafon previously stated "since each novel was going to be complex and difficult to write, I decided to take one at a time and see how the experiment evolved on its own in an organic way." The Prisoner of Heaven is not complex (checking in at only 280 or so pages) and did not evolve on its own (no new characters, no independent story, etc.) -- perhaps Zafon should have revisited his own words and crafted a novel that fit the style and pattern of the previous two.
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A worthy follow-up to a modern classic11. Juli 2012
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
At once a sequel to The Angel's Game and both a sequel and prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, The Prisoner of Heaven continues to tie together the twisting and melancholy narratives of David Martín and Daniel Sempere. This time, Zafón uses the unlikeliest of sources to accomplish this intertwining of narratives: at the heart of The Prisoner of Heaven, though not the titular prisoner itself, is Fermín Romero de Torres, and his story, from his first steps through the gates at Castle Montjuïc, to his eventual meeting with Daniel Sempere, is surprisingly heartbreaking and and important to the overall narrative of the series' overall story.
In The Shadow of the Wind, Fermín's role as sidekick often fell into the role of comedic relief, allowing Zafón to break the tension with a well-timed joke about flatulence or an off-beat observation about the world, or those who people it. His place in the novel is important for helping to maintain tone, and showcasing Zafón's sly humour, but the reader always had the sense the Fermím's past held secrets as dark and interesting as anyone else in the novel. The Prisoner of Heaven explores some of those secrets, but not all. In response to Fermín's upcoming nuptiuals, Daniel sets out to ensure that his friend can be legally wed under his nom de plume, Fermín Romero de Torres, and in doing so discovers secrets about his own past and his connection with David Martín, lightly touched upon in The Angel's Game. It's a thrilling ride for anyone who has closely followed the labyrinth of relationships that Zafón has woven through his novels.
One aspect that surprised me is how The Prisoner of Heaven makes The Angel's Game a stronger novel, by exploring David Martín from the perspective of an outsider. It's difficult to go into without digging deep into spoiler territory, which is not my objective for this review, but it sheds a lot of light on Martín's actions in The Angel's Game and explicitly explains the origins of his delusions, suggesting that the confusing narrative of The Angel's Game, often considered one of its flaws when considering it as a stand-alone novel, might serve a greater role in the series as a whole. I have one prediction for the final novel that, if it comes true, will be incredibly bold and perfectly executed by Zafón. Time will tell if I'm correct, but it will make subsequent re-reads of the entire series take on a new perspective.
There are the familiar characters that we all met and grew to love in The Shadow of the Wind. Fermín, of course, plays an important role, as does Daniel, though his next time to truly shine will be in the following novel, but it was pleasent and nostalgic to again be re-introduced to Bea and Daniel's father, and Issac at the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, all of whom have grown up a bit, matured and evolved since we last saw them. Except Isaac; he never seems to change. And that's just fine.
Barcelona, too, has changed since readers last visited, slowly crawling out from under the shadow of World War II and the civil war that wracked much of Spain through the latter-half of the '30s. Gone is the baroque and ethereal Barcelona, ripe for the lingering ghosts and haunted dreams that formed much of the core tale in The Shadow of the Wind, replaced with a more contemporary Barcelona, snow falling over the city, instead of sunshine bleaching its streets. Due to the dual-timeline structure of the narrative, Zafón is able to press these two visions of Barcelona together, illustrating the cities transformation through the intervening years between the `beginning' of Fermín's tale (1939) to the opening pages of this tale (1957). It's another touching love letter from Zafón to the City of Counts.
The Prisoner of Heaven is a worthy follow-up to The Shadow of the Wind and everything I hoped The Angel's Game would be. It is not as deep or labyrinthine as The Shadow of the Wind, by virtue of its length, and it does not play tricks on the reader through a twisted, unreliable narrator like The Angel's Game (or does it?), but stands between the two of them as a strong novel that, while it doesn't stand entirely on its own, as the previous two novels did, appears to be the keystone novel in Zafón's series. Many questions are raised in The Prisoner of Heaven, pondering the relationship between the tales of Daniel Sempere and David Martín, and the final volume of the quartet, along with those answers, cannot come soon enough. The Prisoner of Heaven is a near pitch-perfect novel, and fans of The Shadow of the Wind have much to look forward to.
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A Prisoner of Past Effort14. Juli 2012
The Ginger Man
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
It may be a stretch to call Prisoner of Heaven a potboiler but it does not come near the quality of the prior two books in the series. This entry is much shorter than its predecessors and seems to rely on a knowledge of the world and characters of those books for its resonance, rather than developing this identity within its own pages.
The plot of Prisoner is familiar as it reprises The Count of Monte Christo while filling in some of the blanks in the lives of series characters such as David Martin and Fermin Romero De Torres. There isn't a great deal of character development in this book's brief pages. And the magical realism of earlier volumes is isolated in a short and somewhat forced visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, shoehorned into its final pages.
In a harrowing prison sequence, the author develops the strongest character in the book: the evil Mauricio Valls. As the book jumps to its current time in 1960, Valls has used writings stolen from prisoners to become a leader in Spain's political and literary world. Unfortunately, the mystery of Valls ascent as well as of Daniel Sempere's tale of revenge is not concluded in Prisoner of Heaven but in classic cliffhanger style is announced to have "only just begun."
The initial Amazon reviews of this book are positive and expansive. Sometimes, if a reader likes the world created by a writer, a simple return to it is enough. I suggest that for most fans of the series, Prisoner will be found to be slight and disappointing. For a reader who is entering the series with this book, it will be even less rewarding. A series volume should be entertaining in itself while moving the larger story along in a significant manner if it indulges in the luxury of so obviously leaving key plot developments for future reader investment. Prisoner passes the first but not the second of these tests.
Zafon is an entertaining writer and Prisoner is fun to read. More of a beach book, it does not achieve the sustained world-building success of prior volumes. I am hopeful for a comeback by the author as Sempere's quest to find the truth about Valls is followed. But the author must consider the challenge that Gregory Maguire overcame in Book 4 of his New Oz series, after an equally tepid third volume. Zafon's Barcelona must expand even as more of its secrets are revealed. The author faces the difficult challenge in an extended literary series of retaining continuity to reward reader familiarity as he breathes fresh air into the plot with new concepts, characters and interests.
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beyond disappointing1. September 2012
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Perhaps it is because I'm such a fan of the previous two books (Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game)that I'm not afraid to give the latest installment in Ruiz Zafon's "series" this admittedly abysmal rating. When I came to the end I honestly thought that maybe Amazon had made some mistake - maybe they'd mislaid about 100 pages? The Prisoner of Heaven, while well written, was nothing compared to the artistry to be found within Shadow of the Wind. However, my biggest gripe is that the plot doesn't really GO anywhere - just makes us wait until the next "installment" so we can fork over another $14.99. I'm really beginning to wonder if "Shadow" was so delightful simply because it wasn't meant to have a sequel or two which could only serve the function of disappointment.