A Burnable Book

A Burnable Book

Book - 2014
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In Chaucer's London, betrayal, murder, royal intrigue, mystery, and dangerous politics swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England's kings. Bruce Holsinger's A Burnable Book is an irresistible historical thriller reminiscent of the classics An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Name of the Rose, and The Crimson Petal and the White.

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers--including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's artful mistress, Katherine Swynford--England's young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London--catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England's kings--and among the book's predictions is Richard's assassination.

Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a "burnable book," a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king's court to London's slums and stews--and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate.

Medieval scholar Bruce Holsinger draws on his vast knowledge of the period to add colorful, authentic detail--on everything from poetry and bookbinding to court intrigues and brothels--to this highly entertaining and brilliantly constructed epic literary mystery that brings medieval England gloriously to life.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, 2014
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780062240323
Characteristics: ix, 444 p. : map


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Nov 03, 2016

i really loved everything about the setting, the characters but i felt like it was very slow for my taste. however dont let that stop you from trying this series out, i really did love this book despite the progression of the story

Oct 03, 2015

I read the third novel of this series first and enjoyed it thoroughly so I was somewhat slow getting into this one. However I find I've enjoyed this one as well, though not as much.

Oct 19, 2014

Following a curious murder, rumors are circulating throughout London of a book said to contain poetic descriptions of the manner in which English kings through history have met their demise, from William the Conqueror to Edward III. Shockingly, it is also said to prophecy the death of the present monarch, Richard II, making it a dangerous item to have in one's possession or to even be found inquiring about. Poet John Gower is determined not only to locate the book, but thwart any attempt, falsely invented or otherwise, on the king's life. The book's journey, from its mysterious origins and its adventure through the slums of Southwark, not to mention the personal glimpse into the lives of the exploited and downtrodden commoners through whose hands it passes, is suspenseful and intriguing. I quite enjoyed "A Burnable Book!" Unfortunately, I was simultaneously reading "Wolf Hall" (never a good idea to read two books whose settings involve the English Court in differing centuries), and I spent as much time trying to keep on top of who was who as I did in consuming the story itself.

Aug 17, 2014

Over the last few years I've really jumped into the historical fiction genre and have managed to read a whole lot them. From classics to living masters to those with mass appeal and those without and quite a few first attempts at fiction. The last applying to this book. And if I hadn't already known that fact, I would never have found out from the quality of the writing or the story. This is a well written book by a man who really loves his subject.
I absolutely appreciate that there are no info dumps, that everything you need to know is incorporated into the story in a believable way. I love the type of book that can really transport you to the time and era, that can make you understand the lives and feelings of the people, how they lived and survived, what it would have been like to live in that part of town or work in a certain trade. I think this story really did that.
I also liked the mystery of the second story, the one in italics. That I didn't quite know what it was about or who it was about but that it revealed itself at just the right moments.

For me it could get a little descriptive. Too many small aspects were explained in too much detail. And the end took too long in my mind, I just wanted to get on with it already.

Some wonderful characters and fascinating history make this a very good read. I am happy to know that at least one more book with John Gower is in the works.

May 09, 2014

Although not always easy to follow, this is a rewarding tale for anyone interested in medieval intrigue or Chaucer (a major character here). I would recommend it to any reader who enjoyed The Name of the Rose or Hilary Mantel's novels about Thomas Cromwell.

Apr 03, 2014

With a plot that is quite daunting, I dove in to what appeared to be a delicious historical fiction. However the details are in the devil. Too many characters, too many settings, too much intrigue make this only bearable and ended up being quite a slog. I understand the author is an expert on this time period, but really! Did he have to squeeze in everything he knows?

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