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Publisher's Summary

The author of the acclaimed medieval mystery A Burnable Book once again brings 14th-century London alive in all its color and detail in this riveting thriller featuring medieval poet and fixer John Gower - a twisty tale rife with intrigue, danger, mystery, and murder.

Though he is one of England's most acclaimed intellectuals, John Gower is no stranger to London's wretched slums and dark corners, and he knows how to trade on the secrets of the kingdom's most powerful men. When the bodies of 16 unknown men are found in a privy, the sheriff of London seeks Gower's help. The men's wounds - ragged holes created by an unknown object - are unlike anything the sheriff's men have ever seen. Tossed into the sewer, the bodies were meant to be found. Gower believes the men may have been used in an experiment - a test for a fearsome new war weapon his informants call the "handgonne", claiming it will be the "future of death" if its design can be perfected.

Propelled by questions of his own, Gower turns to courtier and civil servant Geoffrey Chaucer, who is working on some poems about pilgrims that Gower finds rather vulgar. Chaucer thinks he just may know who commissioned this new weapon, an extremely valuable piece of information that some will pay a high price for - and others will kill to conceal....

©2015 Bruce Holsinger (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

What an enjoyably erudite and entertaining piece of historical fiction! Like Holsinger's last book, A Burnable Book, this is a compelling tale involving Chaucer, Gower, treason and treachery. This time, he does an even better job of combining poetry with plot and I also loved how he seamlessly wove developments in medieval technology into his story. Handguns, yes, but the spectacles nearly made me cry. I was sorry for it to end, and I hope the author is already brewing us up another tale.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Chaucer's England reimagined

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

If the reader is familiar with English history, geography, and medieval literature, its a good read. If you are not fascinated with the period, its a slow slog.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

After many chapters,many hours, it was a relief to have it be over.

What aspect of Simon Vance’s performance would you have changed?

Too melodramatic.

Was The Invention of Fire worth the listening time?

not for me

Any additional comments?

Bruce Holsinger is a dedicated professor, and a sincerely hard working academic This is a hard working author, deserves credit for his tremendous work.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Hard to keep names straight but fabulous

Worth the effort and sometimes hard to follow but incredibly educational and enjoyable. Worth reading again

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

beautiful written and read

I won't give away the story but it was well written. The ending could possibly lead to another story but even if it didn't the ended tied up all lose ends. Story line is great, the attention to detail makes to feel a part of the scene. I really enjoyed the narrator's voice. I could listen to anything read him. Give it a listen. I'm only sad that the story ended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Darcy
  • Papaikou, Hawaii
  • 02-01-16

Better Second Book

What made the experience of listening to The Invention of Fire the most enjoyable?

I read this book first, and loved it, the historical detail and language.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Kept me listening for the next plot twist.

Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

The best there is, I usually look for Simon Vance books on Audible first...

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • Milwaukee, WI, United States
  • 06-04-17

Delightful Nod to Chaucer

The book was wonderful on its own merits but the addition of Geoffrey Chaucer as a participating character made all the more fun. Excellent research.

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Fascinating story with great depth, perfect audio

Simon Vance does a beautiful job bringing Bruce Holsinger's intricate and intriguing story to life. This is a sequel to Holsinger's A Burnable Book, but you don't need to have read the first to enjoy the second. The same historical characters, John Gower and peripherally his friend Chaucer, are solving a crime and conspiracy that could undermine the English throne. No one is better than Holsinger at creating a rich medieval setting and weaving a fascinating mystery that will keep you engaged until the last word. Bravo to both author and performer.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wow

Fantastic book. Excellent narrator. I listened to the audio on a long car trip and enjoyed every minute.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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another brilliant book by Holsinger

as always well researched, I'm a little in love with john Gower... keep them coming

0 of 1 people found this review helpful