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The Prisoner of Heaven

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Country  Spain
Publication date  July 10, 2012
Author  Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Followed by  The Labyrinth of Spirits
Translator  Lucia Graves

Language  Spanish
Originally published  2011
Preceded by  The Angel's Game
Genre  Mystery
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Original title  El prisionero del cielo
Series  Cemetery of Forgotten Books
Publisher  Harper Collins / Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Similar  Carlos Ruiz Zafón books, Mystery books

The Prisoner of Heaven is a 2011 book written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Originally published in Spanish, it was later translated to English by Lucia Graves, daughter of the poet Robert Graves. This is the third novel written by the author.


The book begins one year after the wedding of Daniel Sempere and Beatrix Aguliar. This is a direct sequel to Zafon's first novel The Shadow of the Wind.

Plot summary

Daniel Sempere has settled into married life well and his son is shortly turning one year old. He is living above the family bookshop, Sempere & Sons with his elderly father, his wife Beatriz and son Julian. Though business has declined further in recent years Fermin still finds a place at the bookshop and continues to source rare books while bringing a smile to the faces of the customers.

One day a mysterious man arrives and asks about a rare and expensive copy of The Count of Monte Cristo that's kept in a display case behind the counter. He purchases the book from Don Sempere Snr and writes an inscription on the cover page:

"For Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from among the dead and holds the key to the future."

The book is left as a gift for Fermin. When Fermin returns to the bookshop later that and is upset by the gift that's been left for him.

It's revealed that Fermin was in prison 20 years earlier with the mysterious stranger as well as David Martin (the protagonist of Zafon's second novel The Angel's Game). While in prison Fermin, inspired by the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, escapes by taking the place of a dead cell mate, stealing a diamond from the stranger.

Knowing the stranger has finally tracked him down, Fermin, with the help of Daniel, attempts to locate the man and come to an arrangement before he's required to pay the ultimate price.


The morality of men's action during war is explored throughout the book and it's contrasted against acceptable behaviour post-war. Deception plays a large role in how the characters interact with each other and the influence their lies have on their future (e.g. Fermin's explanation of his past to the Sempere's, Daniel's avoidance of his marital problems).

Impact on The Angel's Game

The Prisoner of Heaven highlights the unreliability of the narrator in The Angel's Game and sheds light on the mental instability of David Martin who has fallen further into insanity in the flashbacks from Fermin's time in prison. As a result, major aspects of The Angel's Game are called into question including whether David was ever truly healed of his brain tumour.

Structure and style

Like Zafon's earlier novels, The Prisoner of Heaven follows a non-linear structure. The core of the book is written in the first person from Daniel's point of view; however, the plot relies on flashbacks in the third person.


The Prisoner of Heaven Wikipedia

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