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The Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the dark of winter in the town of Dulwich, people are more desperate than ever. There's little food, little money, and even less hope. But what the people of Dulwich do have in abundance are secrets. And one man, Godric, has devoted his life to the illegal practice of alchemy in the quest to uncover the Great Secret: of making gold, and of immortality. Yet just as he is on the brink of a great discovery, he keels over, nearly dead.

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The Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic

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Overview

In the dark of winter in the town of Dulwich, people are more desperate than ever. There's little food, little money, and even less hope. But what the people of Dulwich do have in abundance are secrets. And one man, Godric, has devoted his life to the illegal practice of alchemy in the quest to uncover the Great Secret: of making gold, and of immortality. Yet just as he is on the brink of a great discovery, he keels over, nearly dead.

The Book Without Words appears to be a volume of blank parchment pages. But for a green-eyed reader filled with great desire, it may reveal the forgotten magical arts of making gold and achieving immortality. For generations, its magic has been protected from those who would exploit it. But on a terrible day of death and destruction, the Book Without Words falls into the hands of a desperate boy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW said the "scene-setting, characterization and dialogue will quickly draw youngsters into this tale" of an aging would-be alchemist who plots to rejuvenate himself by stealing the life of his 13-year-old servant. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2005: Avi, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead as well as many other novels for young readers, returns to medieval England for this tale about magic and greed. The Book Without Words, a work of spells that appears to be just blank pages, was stolen from a monastery by a man named Thorston when he was young. Now Thorston is an old man, an alchemist, and on his deathbed he seeks a green-eyed reader who can reveal the book's secrets and grant him immortality. His servant girl, Sybil, and his talking raven, Odo, hunt for a green-eyed reader and find not one but two boys who fit the bill, one sweet and one sour; bury and rebury their not-quite-dead master; and contend with a mysterious monk who is trying to retrieve the book and with the city reeve, who wants the alchemist's gold. Endnotes explain that the story is meant to be a fable, and also tell a bit about the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, alchemy, the story's setting, and Saint Elfleda, who appears as a character. This is an appealingly creepy tale that features details of life in the Middle Ages along with a feisty heroine and a message about the dangers of greediness.
KLIATT
Avi, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead as well as many other novels for young readers, returns to medieval England for this tale about magic and greed. The Book Without Words, a work of spells that appears to be just blank pages, was stolen from a monastery by a man named Thorston when he was young. Now Thorston is an old man, an alchemist, and on his deathbed he seeks a green-eyed reader who can reveal the book's secrets and grant him immortality. His servant girl, Sybil, and his talking raven, Odo, hunt for a green-eyed reader and find not one but two boys who fit the bill, one sweet and one sour; bury and rebury their not-quite-dead master; and contend with a mysterious monk who is trying to retrieve the book and with the city reeve, who wants the alchemist's gold. Endnotes explain that the story is meant to be a fable, and also tell a bit about the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, alchemy, the story's setting, and Saint Elfleda, who appears as a character. This is an appealingly creepy tale that features details of life in the Middle Ages along with a feisty heroine and a message about the dangers of greediness. A lively read. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, Hyperion, 204p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
Set in eleventh-century Northumbria, England, this story opens with an old alchemist named Thorston, who is about to create a potion that will allow him to become young again and live forever. With the help of a magical book with no words, only he or another with green eyes "filled with desire" may read the book to discover the potion's secret. As he is about to complete his task, he suddenly suffers a heart attack. With a few last words to his talking raven and thirteen-year-old servant girl, Master Thorston attempts to complete his mission by having these two find, "the green eyed one." And so begins the tale of an entire town—shrouded in poverty—in a greedy search for what they believe is "gold," as misunderstood by the raven when his master said the word "old." With talking animals, supernatural elements and a suspenseful and mysterious atmosphere, Avi's book accomplishes what it apparently set out to do—entertain. An evil lawmaker; a curious monk; a nosy apothecary; two green-eyed boys; Sybil, the servant and Odo, the raven, make a dynamic, disturbing group of characters. They will leave readers wondering who to trust, what is evil and what is good. With a mystical feel similar to the Harry Potter series, this book is certain to be a hit with middle-grade readers and adults alike. 2005, Hyperion Books for Children, Ages 9 to 12.
—Kelly Roque
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-At the dawning of the Middle Ages, Thorston, an old alchemist, works feverishly to create gold and to dose himself with a concoction that will enable him to live forever. The key to his success lies in a mysterious book with blank pages that can only be read by desperate, green-eyed people. Master Bashcroft, enforcer of law and order for the city, desires Thorston's secrets for himself. Brother Wilfrid, a priest with green eyes, knows the dangers of the book and seeks to retrieve it. To this mix add Odo, a talking raven, and Sybil, a poor orphan girl whom Thorston has taken in as his servant, and you have an intriguing tale in which goodness ultimately triumphs. Avi's compelling language creates a dreary foreboding, a grim backdrop against which the characters work out their fate. The old city always seems enshrouded in nasty fog and disgusting odors. Thorston keeps consuming part of his life-giving formula and repeatedly appears to die before resuscitating as a younger person. This, plus the fact that after each "death" Sybil and the others bury him, only to have him tromp up the basement steps covered in grime, will surely keep readers turning pages. Odo's cleverness and cynicism make him a likable character, while Sybil's innate goodness will endear her to readers. Clearly this is a story with a message, a true fable. Thoughtful readers will devour its absorbing plot and humorous elements, and learn a "useful truth" along the way.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423140252
  • Publisher: Disney Press
  • Publication date: 1/20/2010
  • Sold by: DISNEY PUBLISHING WORLDWIDE -EBKS
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 514,598
  • File size: 576 KB

Meet the Author

Avi

Lynne Ewing is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Moon series, and the popular companion series Sons of the Dark and Sisters of Isis. Ms. Ewing lives in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, DC.

Biography

Born in Manhattan in 1937, Avi Wortis grew up in Brooklyn in a family of artists and writers. Despite his bright and inquisitive nature, he did poorly in school. After several academic failures, he was diagnosed with a writing impairment called dysgraphia which caused him to reverse letters and misspell words. The few writing and spelling skills he possessed he had gleaned from his favorite hobby, reading -- a pursuit enthusiastically encouraged in his household.

Following junior high school, Avi was assigned to a wonderful tutor whose taught him basic skills and encouraged in him a real desire to write. "Perhaps it was stubbornness," he recalled in an essay appearing on the Educational Paperback Association's website, "but from that time forward I wanted to write in some way, some form. It was the one thing everybody said I could not do."

Avi finally learned to write, and well! He attended Antioch University, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia in 1964. He worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library's theater collection and for Trenton State College, and taught college courses in children's literature, while continuing to write -- mostly plays -- on the side. In the 1970s, with two sons of his own, he began to craft stories for children. "[My] two boys loved to hear stories," he recalled. "We played a game in which they would give me a subject ('a glass of water') and I would have to make up the story right then. Out of that game came my first children's book, Things That Sometimes Happen." A collection of "Very Short Stories for Little Listeners," Avi's winning debut received very positive reviews. "Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves," raved Kirkus Reviews, "these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin."

Avi has gone on to write dozens of books for kids of all ages. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing but the Truth (1992) were named Newbery Honor Books, and in 2003, he won the prestigious Newbery Medal for his 14th-century adventure tale, Crispin: The Cross of Lead. His books range from mysteries and adventure stories to historical novels and coming-of-age tales; and although there is often a strong moral core to his work, he leavens his message with appealing warmth and humor. Perhaps his philosophy is summed up best in this quote from his author profile on Scholastic's website: "I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read."

Good To Know

In a Q&A with his publisher, Avi named Robert Louis Stevenson as one of his greatest inspirations, noting that "he epitomizes a kind of storytelling that I dearly love and still read because it is true, it has validity, and beyond all, it is an adventure."

When he's not writing, Avi enjoys photography as one of his favorite hobbies.

Avi got his unique nickname from his twin sister, Emily..

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    1. Also Known As:
      Avi Wortis (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 23, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Easy read.

    This is a book that would be perfect for children who aren't really interested in reading. It's easy, short, and helps them focus more on reading skills.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    WOW One For The Record Books!!!!!!

    When old Thorston makes a potion to make him live longer he suddenly dies. Thorston is and old man he has raggedy gray hair. He has with blue eyes and tons of wrinkles.

    When Sybil finds her master dead on the floor she has to find a green eyed child to read the book without words to find out how to make gold. They need the gold to help bring her master back to life. Soon Master Bashcroft (a greedy man) finds out about the secret and tries to rush to the house to get the gold for himself. Now Sybil has to get rid of the book with the help of a talking bird named Odo.

    Sybil is Thorston's apprentice. She is a very strong and determined woman. Thorston is an old man trying to figure out a way of not dying. Odo is an annoying talking bird who knows some magic. Damian is the apothecary's apprentice who is really quite rude. Last but not least is Alfric, a young green eyed boy who helps Sybil along the way.

    The green eyed child is a boy who has to read a book that has no words. The boy is an orphan and has no family. He was abandoned for his strange looking eyes. But, this boy and only this boy, could read the book without words.


    This was a very amazing book that all should read. I loved the characters, the setting, and the whole plot was great. This book has many twists and turns that will not let you stop reading. This book is one of a kind. I think this book is good for all ages and is very interesting.

    My favorite part of the book is this:" God the mighty!" Damian screamed and leaped out of the bed. "It's him!" Sybil darted forward and clamped a hand over his mouth from behind. "Be still," she commanded. "Is that...your master?" Asked Damian. "Yes." "Is he...dead...or alive?"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 1, 2005

    This is not a child's book!

    When I picked up this book, it was with the intent of sharing it with my son. After all I found it in the children's section. What a mistake! Although this book is written with a less complex structure and language and is obviously intended as a child's book, the themes and descriptions are for adults only. The story itself was uninspired and seemed to rely heavily on the use of grotesque description and cruelty to others as a way to try to grasp the reader's attention. Overall the book was depressing and poorly written. I'm glad I previewed it before allowing my son to read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted July 19, 2014

    before harry potter

    this is such a good read. Avi surely as an imagination. it is not a long book but it is very enjoyable. my twelve year old gotten from the library since i read it, and told it was a good read. She really enjoyed it so much she wants a copy for yourself, but it is out of print so will need to get a used book if we can find one.

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

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Awesome!!!!!!!!!

    This book was so awesome! I loved it. All of avis books r good

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

    Posted May 8, 2012

    I WANT TO REA IT BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!#!!!!#####

    I' ve never read it but i will!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Good

    Goodie. Good story, author uses mind :^)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Awesome

    This book is a have to read book! I can't put my nook down because it is so good! It is filled wirh suspence, and reals you in like a fish. The secrets are wonderfully spectacular!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Awesome!

    It was very enjoyable i love AVI !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2011

    OMG

    Wow awesome book i loved every min i it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Wow

    I read the sample,and i thought it would be a great book,i really like all tge books by avi.i think im ganna buy it.:)

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  • Posted April 22, 2011

    phenomenal

    this book is an epic novel on survival that relies on trust and friendship, will odo, the crow,and sybil, the searvent girl, be able to overcome and concore this adventure?find when you read this phenomenal book by avi.

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

    Posted December 28, 2010

    good

    this book was good. it was a little confusing but overall it was very dramatic and interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2009

    Not much of a plot

    The plot of this story never really goes anywhere. You spend most of the book in the house waiting for Thorston to revive and take another stone. However, as a teacher I can see the quality this book has as an easy reader, which allows emerging readers to focus on reading without missing out on the plot.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com

    What defines a life? How can you know that you've really lived your life? These are questions that Sybil has never thought about, until now. Now her master, Thorston, has died, and she and Odo, his talking bird, are likely to end up on the street. Unless they can figure out Thorston's secret for making gold. <BR/><BR/>Thorston was a magician. Not just an ordinary magician, but an alchemist, concerned with finding eternal life above all else. Now he's dead, and the few people who knew of his existence are left to define their own. <BR/><BR/>Odo thinks Sybil is dumb and useless, but he needs her to perform human functions like opening things and talking to people. Sybil thinks Odo is cruel and evil, but she needs him to help with the magic since he was with Thorston much longer than she was. A shaky alliance is born. The two acquire questionable aid from Alfric, a young beggar, and Damian, an herbal apprentice. Alfric has been sent by two different people who both want the same thing, though he doesn't now why or how. All he knows is that Sybil is the first person that has been kind to him since his parents died. Damian is out for his own share of the gold, and nothing else. They are all stuck inside Thorston's house, under constant watch of Bashcroft, the man in charge of law and order, who wants the secret of never-ending life. No one knows who to trust, or who holds the most knowledge. The only true key is Thorston, and he's not planning on sharing. <BR/><BR/>They are left to figure out who they all truly are, and find the true value of a life.

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

    Posted May 7, 2008

    Outstanding

    Yes, the book was so good I bought a copy for me to read to my brother at my home. When I read this book, I felt as if I was in a mystical realm in the book and that I was the one making the potion or casting the spell in the book. When Thorten makes the potion I feel like making the potion so I go home and start putting herbs in the boiling pot of water and putting in noddles and making the potion but it always becomes lunch or supper. So much for the potion... The book has so much detail in the book that it feels like you are there. The best part in the book is when Thorten a eighty one year wizard who doesn't care a bought his looks wants to find a better soul but in order to do that he needs to find a girl of thirteen years of age and has to make a spell. So he starts a fire and put some sea coal on the fire. It turned blue and then he put some copper grain in it and it turned green and said green the color of life then he puts an empty iron pot on to the fire and puts a perfect white cube of clay in to the fire. Then he fills the pot with holy water and adds a drop of his own blood and watched it turn pink then he added shredded Gargoyle ears, chimera crumbs, scales from a fire lizards tail, two dozen white spider legs, thirteen and a half night shade leaves, sixteen hairs from the top of a manx's tail, plus six white pearls from dried unicorn tears, and the blackest of raven feathers, and then the life of a girl thirteen of age. To read more you must read the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy books like me. P.S. Do not add eye of newt to any of your potions. Or ELSE.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2008

    A GREAT book!

    A great book for good readers in the 3-4 grade! It keeps you reading because you want to know happens to Sybil, ECT, ETC. I like mysterious, magic books 'And so far this is my favorite!'. Avi is a great author!

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

    Posted October 20, 2007

    a reviewer

    What defines a life? How can you know that you¿ve really lived your life? These are questions that Sybil has never thought about, until now. Now her master, Thorston, has died, and she and Odo, his talking bird, are likely to end up on the street. Unless they can figure out Thorston¿s secret for making gold. Thorston was a magician. Not just an ordinary magician, but an alchemist, concerned with finding eternal life above all else. Now he¿s dead, and the few people who knew of his existence are left to define their own. Odo thinks Sybil is dumb and useless, but he needs her to perform human functions like opening things and talking to people. Sybil thinks Odo is cruel and evil, but she needs him to help with the magic since he was with Thorston much longer than she was. A shaky alliance is born. The two acquire questionable aid from Alfric, a young beggar, and Damian, an herbal apprentice. Alfric has been sent by two different people who both want the same thing, though he doesn¿t now why or how. All he knows is that Sybil is the first person that has been kind to him since his parents died. Damian is out for his own share of the gold, and nothing else. They are all stuck inside Thorston¿s house, under constant watch of Bashcroft, the man in charge of law and order, who wants the secret of never-ending life. No one knows who to trust, or who holds the most knowledge. The only true key is Thorston, and he¿s not planning on sharing. They are left to figure out who they all truly are, and find the true value of a life. **Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman

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

    Posted March 19, 2007

    The Book Without Words

    It is about an elder man named Thorston who wants to live forever so he steals The Book Without Words from Brother Wilfrid - a monk - and attempts to make gold and makes the stones which will able him to live forever. Sybil is Thorston's servant who is 13 years old and has her life stolen by Thorston but Brother Wilfrid warns her in time so that she does not let Thorston swallow the last stone.

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

    Posted March 15, 2007

    best book ive ever read is this book by tom

    this is a very intresting book and sixth graders and up should read it and u may have to search some words if you don't know them.I also like how this book was played with how almost 2 scenes are going on at once. This is worth ur time. If u do not like this book then try realistic fiction you will probably like it more than this kind of book or read other books by AVI since she is a very good writer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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