The Astronomer: A Novel of Suspense [NOOK Book]


1534, Paris. A student at the Catholic Collège de Montaigu, serving as a courier for the Inquisition, is murdered by members of an extreme Lutheran sect for the packet of letters he is carrying. His friend and fellow classmate Amaury de Faverges-the illegitimate son of the Duke of Savoy and an expert in astronomy and natural science-is recruited as his replacement and ...
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The Astronomer: A Novel of Suspense

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1534, Paris. A student at the Catholic Collège de Montaigu, serving as a courier for the Inquisition, is murdered by members of an extreme Lutheran sect for the packet of letters he is carrying. His friend and fellow classmate Amaury de Faverges-the illegitimate son of the Duke of Savoy and an expert in astronomy and natural science-is recruited as his replacement and promised a decree of legitimacy if he can uncover the secret that threatens to overturn Catholicism and the reign of François I.

Working undercover, Amaury journeys south to the liberal court of the king's sister, Marguerite of Navarre, the alleged heart of the conspiracy. The deeper he probes, the more Amaury is forced to confront his own religious doubts; and when he discovers a copy of Copernicus's shocking manuscript showing the sun at the center of the universe, he knows the path he must follow.

Replete with characters and events from history-from the iconoclastic Rabelais to the burning of heretics in Paris to preacher John Calvin and Copernicus himself-The Astronomer is a powerful novel of love and betrayal, and a thrilling portrait of what might well have happened at a hinge point in history when science and ancient religious belief collided.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1534, Goldstone's uneven novel of historical suspense, his second after The Anatomy of Deception, finds the Inquisition taking corrective measures against the unremitting attacks on Catholic orthodoxy: namely the rack, the stake, and that old crowd pleaser, the gibbet. But there are other, equally pernicious forms of heresy. Consider a dangerous free-thinker like the much too famous astronomer Copernicus, for instance, and his bizarre insistence that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the universe. In Paris, young Amaury de Faverges is getting unsettling whiffs of the heady aroma of intellectual ferment. Though successfully recruited by the Inquisition, Amaury eventually turns against his draconian masters, giving the beset Copernicus reason to thank his lucky stars. Goldstone brings the sights, sounds, and furious politics of 16th-century France to vivid life, but his major characters are under-imagined—stick figures out of historical fiction central casting. (May)
From the Publisher
“To describe Lawrence Goldstone's The Astronomer as a great historical whodunit, is to do it a gross injustice. For though it is that, too, and in the most superb way, it is a lot, lot more.  By artfully weaving theological conflicts and personal dilemmas with a well-crafted murder story, set in the early years of the Reformation, Goldstone manages both to illuminate the human side of a fascinating historical era and to add spiritual depth to the lives of the people caught up in its wheels. A writer who has shown, time and again, that it is possible to be highly entertaining and profound at the same time, gives us a perfect example of that rarest of species: a novel which can delight the lover of mysteries without disappointing one bit the reader of serious fiction."  – Apostolos Doxiadis, author of Logicomix

“Lawrence Goldstone has produced a thinking person’s suspense novel, a moral thriller whose plot is propelled along by ideas as much as by action. The novel’s hairpin turns lead us through the history of astronomy, the politics of religion, questions of loyalty and faith, and the grubby labyrinth that was sixteenth-century Paris.” –Ross King, author of Brunelleschi's Dome

Clever, fast-moving, and richly depicted, The Astronomer is the kind of book that makes you forget about dinner—until you smell the chicken burning in the oven.”  –New York Journal of Books

“Goldstone keeps his 16th-century themes—murder, religious fanaticism, espionage and court intrigue—moving at a 21st-century pace.” –Kirkus

“Goldstone, author of last year’s The Anatomy of Deception (2008), again turns his attention to the problem of traditional thinking versus the scientific approach to the physical world. Set in 1534 Paris, after the murder of a young man on a mission for the Inquisition, Amaury de Faverges, an astronomer, is forced by circumstances to take on an undercover assignment for the good of Catholicism and on behalf of the inept and unpredictable monarch, Francois I. In the course of his investigation, Amaury bumps elbows with John Calvin and Nicolaus Copernicus, whose ideas open new vistas for a young man already nagged by religious doubt and a dawning certainty that Earth is not the center of the universe. The author nicely balances the reality of torture and injustice in the Middle Ages with the beginnings of enlightened thinking and the history of a new ideology. A taut aura of impending violence, a darkness of spirit, and a likable young academic invite comparison to Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia (2010) and Heresy by S. J. Parris.” - Booklist

Kirkus Reviews
The "astronomer" of the title refers to Copernicus, and this novel of intrigue centers on the controversy about his heliocentric theory, especially as that controversy spills over into violent conflict between Catholics and Lutherans. At the center of the story is Amaury de Faverges, the exquisitely educated but illegitimate son of the Duke of Savoy. Amaury is an expert on modern science-16th-century modern science that is, for the novel takes place in 1534. Dressed as a Franciscan, a classmate of Amaury's is murdered on the streets of Paris for a packet of letters he was carrying, and the perpetrators turn out to be radical Lutherans who want to upset the Catholic status quo in France. Ory, aka The Inquisitor, promises that Amaury will achieve legitimacy if he agrees to help the Inquisition, and so begins an undercover assignment to the politically liberal court of Marguerite of Navarre, the older sister of France's ruling monarch, Francois I. At Marguerite's court Amaury gets a bit more than he bargained for, including a passionate dalliance with his former lover Helene, one of the most beautiful women in France. Amaury begins to question both his mission and his religious upbringing when he realizes, perhaps naively, that his quest-to uncover documents that support Copernicus's theory-might in fact lead science to "couple with love of God and lead the way to a new world. This discovery will save Christianity, not destroy it." Amaury abhors the fanaticism of the Inquisition and is an enlightened man of the age. In creating his 16th-century tapestry, Goldstone (The Friar and the Cipher, 2005, etc.) weaves in actual historical figures, not just French royalty but also Rabelais (as earthy and witty as one would expect), John Calvin (severe) and, eventually, Copernicus, whose life is endangered as a result of his "heretical" theories. Goldstone keeps his 16th-century themes-murder, religious fanaticism, espionage and court intrigue-moving at a 21st-century pace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802778499
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 355,329
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Lawrence Goldstone is the author of the thriller The Anatomy of Deception and several works of history, including Dark Bargain, The Activist, and Out of the Flames. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.
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Customer Reviews

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( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Great read

    Well done tale of suspence and murder. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2014

    Solid historical perspective on the Copernican revolution

    I enjoyed the dynamics displayed in the clash between Lutherans and Catholics in France during the time of Copernicus. The characters were interesting and the settings brought to life a different time and era.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    Great historical mystery!

    The passion of this era imbues every page of this book!

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    Posted April 21, 2014

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    Posted April 26, 2011

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    Posted July 26, 2014

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