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Publisher's Summary

It is England, in the 14th century, a time of plague, political unrest, and the earliest stirrings of the Reformation. The printing press had yet to be invented, and books were rare and costly, painstakingly lettered by hand and illuminated with exquisite paintings. Finn is a master illuminator who works not only for the Church but also, in secret, for John Wycliffe of Oxford, who professes the radical idea that the Bible should be translated into English for everyone to read. Finn has another secret as well, one that leads him into danger when he meets Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor, a widow struggling to protect her inheritance from the depredations of Church and Crown alike. Finn's alliance with Lady Kathryn will take us to the heart of what Barbara Tuchman once called "the calamitous fourteenth century".

Richly detailed and irresistibly compelling, The Illuminator is a glorious story of love, art, religion, and treachery at an extraordinary turning point in history.

©2005 Brenda Rickman Vantrease; (P)2005 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Historical Disaster

I always love Simon Jones and even enjoyed most of the story, but the author needs to do a little more historical research. She has confused the 14th Century with the 16th Century. Her idea of period dress goes much better 200 years in the future with laced up bodices, skirts, "petticoats" and snoods. The middle-class land-owners, yeomen, have been reduced to paid servants. The "shilling" makes a surprising introduction about 100 years too early and Laudanum, a tincture of poppy (opium) is way out of place by 400 years (poppy was available, just not as laudanum). There are so many more inacurate historical falsities that it was driving me crazy. I started keeping a list! I will say that some of what she has written about the priest John Wycliffe was well done, but. . . it was not enough to save this book. So if you don't like poorly done history, don't get this book. It will only disappoint you!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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extremely enjoyable

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love this era and already had familiarity with it, yet I still learned more by reading this novel. The overlay of spirituality in the piece also satisfied me, as the specifics of Julian of Norwich's visions and writings were new to me. The novel truly was one that I did not want to put down.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • Horsham, PA, USA
  • 05-20-06

Quite disappointing

I have a keen interest in the time period that this book deals with, the synopsis sounded good and I would listen to the reader read a phone book, but this is book number two that I'm sorry I bought here.

Simon Jones is a favorite of mine, and he reads a mean Dick Francis. However, even he couldn't keep me from turning this one off more than an hour from the end. I liked the characters, and listened for many hours to hear more about them, but the author killed too many of them off. I enjoyed the interplay of the characters, but was frustrated by the amount of excess inner monologue she included in every conversation - effectively doubling the length of the book! I understand the friction between the religions at the time, but I really don't need that stuffed in my face a hundred times in 20 chapters, I get it, the Christians hated the Jews, go back to telling me the story please.

So, despite the fine reader and a love of the time period, by the point at which two different characters had died senslessly in the same location, at the hands of the same *nameless person*, I felt sufficiently insulted to quit listening. Very sad. If you must read this one, try the abridged version if at all. I give first half of the book two stars, as I rather liked it. The rest? Hardly worth a star at all for being such a letdown.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • downey, CA, USA
  • 02-03-07

riveting

a view into the lives of a 14th century demesne, and the interaction with the domineering church and nobility of the time. Wonderfully enveloping..you could almost be there! And superbly read...I highly recommend this if you like the period.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Pat
  • Carmel, CA, USA
  • 03-22-05

Excellent Listen

This definitely kept my attention, it is an engaging story, with great attention to the detail of the time.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Very Interesting

I picked this book because I really like Simon Jones as a narrator but I really liked the book in it's own right. It had a really great historical feeling with just a slight bit of the mystical. Vantrease was really good at really fleshing out all of her characters, although there were a couple that I just wanted to smack sometimes. She also really captured the way classes and social status worked in the dark ages.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarai
  • Belton, MO, USA
  • 04-29-08

Amazing

If you’re looking for a good period and a little bite of romance book this is it. I thought that this book was great. I really like the way that it filled out all the characters and the way the storyline progressed. It always gave away just enough information to keep you wanting more. This is a book I will enjoy rereading over and over.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great narrator

Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Simon Jones is my favourite narrator yet, great characters all (more words more words so that this review will be accepted)

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The Illumkinator.

The story was interesting, though the timeline somewhat confusing.
The narrating was good, though it took me awhile to get used to Katherine's voice.

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I was disappointed.

I love this time period, but not this book. It was depressing with so many dead at the end. The characters are well defined, but the historical events of the time seemed hazy and poorly explained so that at the end, you are left thinking--why did all this have to happen. This just wasn't one I liked.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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