In Chaucer's London, betrayal, murder, and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England's kings.
London, 1385: Surrounded by ruthless courtiers - including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's artful mistress, Katherine Swynford - England's young king, Richard II, is in mortal peril. Songs are heard across London - catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the ends 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 conspiracy that reaches from the king's court to London's slums and stews - and potentially implicates Gower's own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that John Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may hold the key to saving the king, and England itself.
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 literary mystery that brings medieval England gloriously to life.
©2014 Bruce Holsinger (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
Yes! Simon Vance is mesmerizing.
They are numerous. I have a great many audio books in my library, but this is the first one that I'm planning to listen to a second time.
Same excellent characterization as Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell series, but tighter, darker plotting.
No; I'm trying to stretch it out so it does not end.
Go to the Amazon site for this book, and click "Look Inside." There you'll find a map and list of characters that will be most helpful.
The story started out in a promising way, but the plot became complicated without being commensurately clever. There were quite a few characters whose motives were rather vague, and there were none that I pine to hear from again in future books. The story itself wouldn't have earned four stars from me, but it got an extra star for what struck me as authenticity in descriptions of the medieval setting. It was well read, so don't hesitate to try it if you are a fan of historical fiction.
Excellent narration and very enjoyable twisting historical mystery set in the time of Chaucer, chalk full of famous personalities, written by a professor who obviously knows his stuff. If you are much on historical fiction, you'll probably have read Kathryn, as in the mistress of John of Gaunt who has some famous Henries in his line of descendants. I had to read along with the audio to keep all the names/ events straight at first. Many memorable characters that aren't always what they seem. Very good book.
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