An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany - a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal.
Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, the wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corruption- riddled, feud-plagued Mainz to meet "a most amazing man."
Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary - and, to some, blasphemous - method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg's workshop, and he orders Peter to become Gutenberg's apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the "darkest art."
As his skill grows, so too does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: printing copies of the Holy Bible. But when outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures - the generous Fust and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.
Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles in a battle that will change history - and irrevocably transform them all.
©2014 Alix Christie (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
The writing and performance splendidly brings to life the people and times that surrounded the creation of Gutenberg's printing press innovations. The descriptions of the physical and artistic effort involved in the first mass printing of the bible were particularly interesting for me. Not so much details of the intricacies of the political/religious turmoil of the times, although of course those conditions influenced nearly all of the behaviors of the central characters, outside of their personalities, while also providing suspense that drives the "plot" for this book. A thank you goes to the author for providing an Afterword in which the known true facts of his story are furnished.
So many historical novels just place modern characters in the past. This one gives you insight in a different world and a different way of thinking. I enjoyed listening to this even though the occasional mispronunciations made me wince. Does anyone pronounce "feral" as feeral? Perhaps some people do.
I love when a book sends me out on the Internet to get more information about it's characters and/or events. Gutenberg's Apprentice was that kind of book. Everyone knows Gutenberg invented the first printing press and that it was a turning point for civilization. This book delves down into the how and who to enrich this historical trivia. Think that sounds dull? Not at all. Alix Christie brought this to life, with tight pacing, fleshed out characters and wonderful prose.
The apprentice in question, Peter Schoeffer, was destined to be a scribe clerk for the (Catholic) church. He's in Paris loving his life. Then his adopted father demands he return to Mainz Germany. He is told off by his father to work for Gutenberg as an apprentice, much to his dismay and disgust. As the two work together in an uneasy relationship, the idea of printing a bible is developed. The story is tells how they decided to print the bible because they didn't want the Church to find out about this new process and take it over for their own possibly dubious uses. There is stealth, secrets, betrayal and all the elements of trying to start up a new endeavor without your competition and enemies finding out.
The narration, done by Robert Petkoff, was outstanding. The book takes place as a much older Peter is telling the tale to a monk who wants to know more about the whole thing. Petkoff delivers the story just as you would expect someone reminiscing would do.
This book was seriously the most boring thing I've ever heard, with the exception of "Double Cross" by Ben Macintyre.
Not much--he just narrates. He doesn't do different voices for different characters, except for Gutenberg's voice.
I learned about the historical era, which was mildly interesting. However, the way that Christie wrote the historical characters for a modern reader was pretty clunky. The way the characters spoke and interacted with each other seemed to have a definite 21st century feel, so even the historical value seemed fairly inauthentic.
I can't believe I listened to the whole thing, there were many times I was ready to stop listening but followed through waiting for the good parts that never came.
No, but maybe from this author
Pretty much all of them although Gutenberg seems pretty neat.
This should be a good book, but the author manages to overwhelm the story in which you want to be interested by phrase after phrase praising how wonderful whatever is being described is. Or how perfidious. Yawn.
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