1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Gutenberg's Apprentice  By  cover art

Gutenberg's Apprentice

By: Alix Christie
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $36.50

Buy for $36.50

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

“A finely atmospheric debut...Christie’s novel is a worthy tribute to the technological revolution it reimagines, as well as a haunting elegy to the culture of print...One thinks of Donna Tartt’s obsessive accounts of furniture decoration in The Goldfinch or even Philip Roth’s lovingly twisted empathy with glovemaker Swede Levov in American Pastoral. Such novels of craft and specialization take a writerly delight in the most intricate details of a particular trade while spinning rich prose out of its mysterious threads.” (Washington Post)

An enthralling literary novel that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany - a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible. 

Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, 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, his adopted son, 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: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; 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 - a battle that will change history...and irrevocably transform them. 

©2014 Alix Christie (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Gutenberg's Apprentice

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    49
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    7
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    50
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    47
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    9

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Illuminating (no pun intended)

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A feeling of the 15th century

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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting and entertaining

You feel the fear, determination, confusion, and abandon required to forge this new means of communication.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A book about printing books? Yes!

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.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Seriously boring

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This book was seriously the most boring thing I've ever heard, with the exception of "Double Cross" by Ben Macintyre.

Would you ever listen to anything by Alix Christie again?

Absolutely not.

What does Robert Petkoff bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Not much--he just narrates. He doesn't do different voices for different characters, except for Gutenberg's voice.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

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.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

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.

Has Gutenberg's Apprentice turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, but maybe from this author

What character would you cut from Gutenberg's Apprentice?

Pretty much all of them although Gutenberg seems pretty neat.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Purple Prose

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.