A Burnable Book

( 9 )

Overview

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's artful mistress, Katherine Swynford—England's young king, Richard II, is in mortal peril. Songs are heard across London, said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the ends of England's kings—including 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 ...

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A Burnable Book

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Overview

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's artful mistress, Katherine Swynford—England's young king, Richard II, is in mortal peril. Songs are heard across London, said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the ends of England's kings—including 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 a conspiracy that reaches from the king's court to London's slums—and potentially implicates Gower's own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that John Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may hold the key to saving the king, and England itself.

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Editorial Reviews

David Liss
“Everything you want in a work of historical fiction: fascinating, rich in period detail, and propelled by a compulsively engaging story. Even better, it’s clever and witty…a superb entertainment.”
New York Times Book Review
“The poet John Gower is the perfect narrator and amateur sleuth. . . . Holsinger’s research, alongside the energetic vulgarity of a language in flux, delivers up a world where even the filth is colorful.”
Washington Post
“Holsinger is a graceful guide to the 14th century, lacing his thriller with just the right seasoning of antique words and all the necessary historical detail without any of the fusty smell of a documentary.”
NPR
” ‘A Burnable Book’ is fragrant with the stench of medieval London. . . . The central mystery of the book leads us through the mucky lanes of London, with cunning surprises around every corner. . . . jam-packed tapestry of medieval England.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Spellbinding . . . A Burnable Book exemplifies the best in historical fiction.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062240330
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/23/2014
  • Series: John Gower Series, #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 94,366
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 1, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved reading this book. It's not quite a mystery novel, not f

    I loved reading this book. It's not quite a mystery novel, not fully a novel of politics, but it is suspenseful, funny, sad, and exciting, and brings 14th century London to life. It's literary, but much easier to enter into than a work like Wolf Hall. I don't usually like historical fiction, but Holsinger does a fabulous job with this novel.

    If you don't know a lot about the 14th century, I would recommend reading The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer alongside this novel (Holsinger also recommends it at the back of the novel). It's a very readable overview of life in the 14th century and can help with understanding the terminology for time or what people's clothing looked like. Since the novel is full of these details, it's a richer experience if you have a bit more background while reading the novel.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 27, 2015

    My interests in historical fiction focus on England, and it's un

    My interests in historical fiction focus on England, and it's unusual to find a mystery set in the time of Richard II.
    This one is well crafted and intriguing, with interesting characters--many of them prostitutes, who are far more
    reliable and relatable than the plotters involved in overthrowing the monarchy. The English dynasties were complex
    with many king-wannabes willing to risk life and limb (including head) for the prize, which means almost any
    story of medieval realms has to be fascinating. I liked this one, which involves Chaucer--a shady character in many ways  as well as a great writer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2014

    Medieval Mystery

    This well researched medieval mystery brings to life, with a feeling of authenticity, the society of England in the time of Richard II

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2014

    Very interesting and enjoyable historical fiction.

    Have always had a buried desire to read stories of English kings and knights and royal courts. Author Bruce Holsinger has helped to unearth those hidden yearnings. He has crafted a good novel with Geoffrey Chaucer and the predicted assination of King Richard II. Everything is built around a book that is said to accurately predict the deaths of the death of the past twelve kings of England and that Richard will soon be slain. The hunt is joined and a dangerous and deadly search for this book by a very minor noble is underway.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. One suggestion, keep a good dictionary near at hand and don't hesitate to do multiple internet searches to fully comprehend this story.

    J M Lydon

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2014

    historical combo does not quite come off but this is not a

    Period am interested in so may be the problem read a few chapters then skipped to end found it boring may go back and unarchive couldnt get thru shakespere mysteries either

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 6, 2014

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    Posted April 25, 2015

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    Posted March 19, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2015

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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