A Burnable Book: A Novel

By Bruce Holsinger

In Chaucer's London, betrayal, homicide, royal intrigue, secret, and unsafe politics swirl round the life of a prophetic e-book that foretells the deaths of England's kings. Bruce Holsinger's A Burnable Book is an impossible to resist ancient mystery corresponding to the classics An example of the Fingerpost, The identify of the Rose, and The pink Petal and the White.

London, 1385. Surrounded by way of ruthless courtiers—including his robust uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's crafty mistress, Katherine Swynford—England's younger, nonetheless untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the chance is barely starting. Songs are heard throughout London—catchy verses stated to originate from an historical ebook that prophesies the top of England's kings—and one of the book's predictions is Richard's assassination.

Only a couple of strong males comprehend that the cryptic strains derive from a "burnable book," a seditious paintings that threatens the soundness of the area. to discover the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a certified dealer in info with connections low and high. Gower discovers that the ebook and incriminating proof approximately its writer have fallen into the unwitting arms of innocents, who could be drawn right into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king's courtroom to London's slums and stews—and in all likelihood implicates his personal son. because the intrigue deepens, it turns into transparent that Gower, a guy with secrets and techniques of his personal, could be the final desire to avoid wasting a king from a poor fate.

Medieval student Bruce Holsinger attracts on his titanic wisdom of the interval so as to add colourful, actual detail—on every thing from poetry and bookbinding to courtroom intrigues and brothels—to this hugely interesting and brilliantly developed epic literary secret that brings medieval England gloriously to life.

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Probably you’ll permit me feed you one night whereas you’re on the town? ” “I’d be delighted,” I stated, which means it, for I had continually felt a companionable heat towards Clanvowe, a guy of genuine knowledge who was once by no means his top at courtroom. We parted with a promise of supper the subsequent week in Clanvowe’s rooms on the Queen’s collage, and that i thanked Sir Lewis back for his hospitality in inviting us to the nice celebration. transforming into drained, i began to find Simon, wandering previous a cover festooned with homosexual flags and branches of flowered crepe. underneath it, within the glassy gentle of 4 striking lamps, Katherine Swynford sat at a low marble desk, laying out her playing cards. Her opponent within the online game was once Sir Stephen Weldon. A crowd had collected round their desk to monitor, and there has been a lot murmuring in regards to the fantastic thing about the playing cards. I recalled the principles of the sport Swynford had taught me, notwithstanding this one was once various. Swynford laid down 4 playing cards. I leaned in to determine which they have been: the 2 of Thistles, the 8 of Swords, and the 4 and Duke of Hawks. Weldon countered her stream with a trump card, the Wheel of Fortune, which Swynford took with the King of Thistles. Weldon’s subsequent play used to be the Prince of Plums. I stared on the card, my imaginative and prescient starring. The Prince of Plums. I went chilly, approximately breathless with the conclusion. because the video game endured strains of verse burned via my brain, the letters searing my reminiscence like a sizzling coal on dermis. With seven of swords to swing at their will . . . At sovereign of swords in dying swoon he'll . . . Seven of Swords. Sovereign of Swords. 3 of Thistles. The unusual words from the prophecies referred to not arcane symbols or figures of allegory, yet to the matches of the cards of the kind dealt via Katherine Swynford. The faces of the site visitors accumulated round the card desk took on a sinister solid. within the entrance rank stood Robert de Vere, the earl’s mouth set in a bemused grin on the sight of his knight wasting badly to Lancaster’s concubine. in the back of him loomed the enforcing bulk of Ralph Strode, taking within the online game with a moderate frown as Thomas Pinchbeak watched over his shoulder, bent ahead like a raven at a clean corpse. Beside him Sir Michael de l. a. Pole, the chancellor, chilly within the April night, hands wrapping his body. A dozen others surrounded the pair, all transfixed through this strange video game: the playing cards from Tuscany, the thoughts from Lombardy, but the gamers completely English of their allegiances. I imagined myself observing them from above, those lords, magnates, varied bearers of the nation’s fortune. Had someone else with wisdom of the De Mortibus made the organization with the playing cards? Or was once this my wisdom by myself, shared simply with these plotting opposed to the king? And, I now puzzled, was once Katherine Swynford one in every of them? “Not if i will be able to aid it, rattling all of it to hell, and now with the entire relaxation . . . ” a well-known voice, raised and indignant, had barked from the cluster of shrubs on the range-end ahead of fading right into a loud whisper. Heads grew to become. Chaucer, his good points twisted in anger, strode prior me with no glance.

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