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The School of Night
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The School of Night

3.7 28
by Louis Bayard
 

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An ancient mystery, a lost letter, and a timeless love unleash a long-buried web of intrigue that spans four centuries

In the late sixteenth century, five brilliant scholars gather under the cloak of darkness to discuss God, politics, astronomy, and the black arts. Known as the School of Night, they meet in secret to avoid the wrath of Queen Elizabeth. But

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The School of Night 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
GregKishbaugh More than 1 year ago
There are pivotal moments in Louis Bayard's glorious new novel, The School of Night, that hinge on the archaic, pitch-dark machinations of alchemy. No small wonder, I suppose, as Bayard is himself a bit of an alchemist (perhaps conjurer is a more suitable term), capable of transporting readers to foregone ages with an almost supernatural deftness. I first became aware of Bayard's work with 2003's "Mr. Timothy", an incandescently beautiful (and heart-wrenching) book detailing the later-day exploits of Dickens' Tiny Tim. Bayard's next two books, stunning both, are The Pale Blue Eye (which follows a young Edgar Allen Poe solving an arcane and terrible mystery while attending West Point) and The Black Tower (in which Restoration era Paris is brought vividly to life as the fate of Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI's long-lost son is relentlessly pursued). The School of Night employs a two-tier narrative: one thread takes place in modern times following a group of Elizabethan collectors and scholars as they try to piece together a mystery involving an invaluable long-lost letter, a hidden treasure and the legacy of a secret cabal of luminaries called the School of Night. The other plot line unspools in 1603 as one of the School's founding members, Thomas Harriot, a genius whose name has been almost forgotten in the mists of history, dabbles in matters both scientific and of the heart. Bayard does much to resurrect Harriot and his legacy, along the way providing a powerful love story that, through interweaving chapters, crashes headfirst into the story's modern-day plot lines. To discuss more of the plot would be a terrible disservice. Best to let readers simply revel in one twist and turn after another. Know that Bayard handles the modern tale masterfully, believably and with a level of humor sadly missing from most thrillers. And what of Bayard's Elizabethan passages, the ones involving Harriot? They are, simply put, transcendent. Bayard displays not a single weakness as a writer, but if he has one strength that shines above the others (and just about any other modern writer I can think of) it is this: His ability to summon long-lost historical time periods with uncanny immediacy. From the pitch-perfect cadence of the dialogue to every sparkling flourish of sight, sound and smell, Bayard is able to almost corporally transport readers through the veils of time. You are there. You feel it. Perhaps there is no better example than late in the book (after most of the plot threads have already been woven tightly together) when Bayard, by way of the lovelorn Harriot, leads us on a journey through a plague-choked London that is as harrowing as anything he has ever written. Grim, disturbing, and ultimately poignant, the scene - like all of Bayard's output - is a virtuosic performance. The School of Night - thrilling, funny, touching and sometimes heartbreaking - firmly cements Bayard's status among our finest novelists.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Elizabethan scholar Henry Cavendish declared the poem by Raleigh as genuine only to later be humiliated when it is proven to be a fake. His career dead, he takes whatever work he can scrape up to get by. His only friend is historical document collector Alonzo Wax, but Henry is stunned when his crony commits suicide and he is named as the estate executor. Before he killed himself, Alonzo informed Henry that he possesses a segment of a letter that discusses the secret School of Night, where five Elizabethan intellects heretically debated theology of the Black Arts vs. science. Henry leans that Wax revealed his secret to Clarissa Dale who claims a psychic connection to one of those late sixteenth century scholars Thomas Harriot the scientist. Antique book collector Bernard Styles insists the letter is his as he accuses Wax of theft. Soon a murder occurs and the Wax collection is stolen. Henry and Clarissa team up to follow clues to the North Carolina Outer Banks where a shocker awaits them as they follow the trail of Harriot and his lover Margaret Crookenshanks. This is a super amateur sleuth with a refreshing subplot involving the actual School of Night real persona; Harriot for instance was a genuine scientist and readers heard of Marlowe and Rolfe. The story line is fast-paced in both eras with the modern period containing several superb twists. Louis Bayard provides an entertaining intelligent thriller as readers travel with Henry have just begun in North Carolina. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book, but the plot is diluted by unstable characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book and there are a few surprises along the way, but the ending was weak. It was as if the authorhad tired of the story and couldn't cone up with the energy to complete the story. The main character us a little annoying much like the ending. He rather floats along like so much flotsam and jetsom in the waters,letting it take him where it will,rather than taking hold of his destiny or his actions
kwanzan More than 1 year ago
Again Louis Bayard does it with a new mystery. Every step of the way he has you guessing until the end. What unfolds is sure to have you breathless!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a fun book! The School of Night is a really interesting look into both what Elizabethan thinkers were thinking about the big questions - God,mortality,etc - and the life of the literary "academic" today. Good story, well-written and fun settings in Washington DC, Nags Head, and London. Planning to send it to several relatives for Xmas...
Barbara Young More than 1 year ago
The language and plot were stunning. A book to be savored. Witty, engaging, at times laugh out loud dialogue.
catwak More than 1 year ago
Louis Bayard has given us a rare treat -- a captivating tale that doesn't require hard thought or concentration but at the same time is unusually well-written. Hard-core thriller fans should beware that this may not be their cup of tea, but the arch, slightly frivolous tone should alert them from the start. As an extra bonus, a surprising amount of British history is included, which, according to my side trips to Google and Wikipedia (thanks to NOOK Color!) has been treated with startling respect for the truth.
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