This is a first novel for Holsinger; an English Medieval scholar and from the way it was written this might be the first installment of a series. I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised by the way the author utilized an d explained 15thc. language,dialect and slang. Those readers who might be offended by some of the words and situations portrayed(startlingly; often contemporary feeling) in this novel may be surprised by the origin of some of those words and slang. Holsinger writes deftly and very detailed; I would call it wordy but winsome and rich in the texture of England at the end of the 15th century A right "goode" read. — Maeve Noonan
An irresistible historical thriller reminiscent of the classics An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Name of the Rose, and The Crimson Petal and the White.
London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's artful mistress, Katherine Swynford—England's young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end 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 labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king's court to London's slums and stews—and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate.
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 epic literary mystery that brings medieval England gloriously to life.
Bruce Holsinger is the author of the first John Gower novel, A Burnable Book, and an award-winning scholar of the medieval period who teaches at the University of Virginia. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. www.bruceholsinger.com