A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1) by Bruce Holsinger

A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)

In Chaucer's London, betrayal, murder, and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England's kingsLondon, 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—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the ends...

Details A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)

TitleA Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)
Release DateFeb 18th, 2014
PublisherWilliam Morrow & Company
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Medieval, European Literature, British Literature

Reviews A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    “There is no deception on the part of the woman, where a man bewilders himself: if he deludes his own wits, I can certainly acquit the women. Whatever man allows his mind to dwell upon the imprint his imagination has foolishly taken of women, is fanning the flames within himself -- and, since the woman knows nothing about it, she is not to blame. For if a man incites himself to drown, and will not restrain himself, it is not the water's fault....
  • Terri
    Don't burn it! It is pretty decent.Once I got over my giggle fest at any mention of the road in London called Gropecunt Lane (immature I know, but I can't be a grown up about everything all of the time) I went on to delight in this charming and well written read. I can hardly even believe that it is a debut for that scholastic fellow, Bruce Holsinger, but it is. So believe it I must.The absolute strength of this book is its characters. Sure, the ...
  • Ron Charles
    Forget Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa tower; the hot new super-agent is 14th-century writer Geoffrey Chaucer. Thrill to his daring Middle English rimes! Gasp at his mighty scansion! Here in the pages of Bruce Holsinger’s medieval adventure, that randy old poet finally gets the “Mission Impossible” cameo he deserves.“The Burnable Book” joins a heavy shelf of novels about intrepid literary folk. The popularity of this subgenre — ...
  • Dawn
    Over the last few years I've really jumped into the historical fiction genre and have managed to read a whole lot them. From classics to living masters to those with mass appeal and those without and quite a few first attempts at fiction. The last applying to this book. And if I hadn't already known that fact, I would never have found out from the quality of the writing or the story. This is a well written book by a man who really loves his subje...
  • Sharon
    Two pieces of disclosure to get out at the very beginning: Prof. Holsinger was my instructor for an excellent class entitled "Plagues, Witches and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction." I also received an advance reader's copy of the book through his publisher.So, with all of that said: wow, what a ride!The story starts with the murder of a young woman and the theft of a ancient book that contains accurate prophecies of the deaths of England's k...
  • Linda Robinson
    The front of this amazing book has a list of characters, a map of London and surrounds, and begob!, a lineage flowchart. I was dismayed that I wouldn't be able to keep up with who's who and where's what. Before I was a third of the way into the book, I was flipping back to the first pages, eager to follow the trail Holsinger was blazing. I've claimed often not to like historical fiction, although Colleen McCullough's Rome series remains a favorit...
  • Jana
    Simon Vance, will you read me a story? UPDATE: And what a story!This worked for me on so many levels: I remember first reading Chaucer in high school and being so surprised at how bawdy and interesting he was. Much like the surprise of finding out that Shakespeare is this way as well. To spend time immersed in Chaucer's medieval England is about as fun as it gets. In real life last October, and in a book last week. I'm sure I missed many of the r...
  • Margaret
    I did not warm to the main character of John Gower at all. This could have been extremely detrimental to the book.However, the book was redeemed from the depths of medieval mediocrity by the transvestite and the whores. Wonderful, well rounded, extremely human characters who made the book a delight to read.The Prioress was also an excellent character whom I would like to have seen more of.The plot was a trifle dull and was the much over used devi...
  • Aly Abell
    I just got back from a trip to the fourteenth century, courtesy of A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger. Set primarily in London at the time of Chaucer (before he wrote Canterbury Tales), the book is a historical thriller that will keep you turning the pages.The main plot centers around a search for the “burnable book” of the title. Said to be written during the reign of William the Conqueror, the seditious book foretells the death of the Engli...
  • Anna
    "The best stories, it seems to me, are those that force us to ask the most difficult questions of ourselves. They want to be mined for these questions, even as they want our soul to mined for its will, in the way a priest mines it at confession. The poet is asking us to become our own confessors."Bruce Holsinger, A Burnable Book
  • Samantha
    This is a finely written novel that will pull you in and keep you guessing until the very end. I listened to this on audiobook, so there were a few times that I thought I must be getting close to the end only to be surprised by another plot twist. I am not a great reader of mysteries, so I will not say more than that I was shocked several times. The cast of characters in this book is large with intricately woven backgrounds. Each time a little co...
  • Alicja
    rating: 4/5What a fun and thrilling mystery! When I think I know what's going on, the plot twists and conspiracies and motivations were all turned upside down. Over and over again. I still have a few questions which I hope the next one (yup, there is a sequel in the making) will tackle.Its as exciting as 14th century can get outside a battlefield. We have Chaucer (yup, that writer we all studied in high school) mixed up in something, the murder o...
  • John
    “Yet there may come a time when your knowledge will betray you. A time when you will find even the brightest certainties – of friendship, of family, even of faith – dimming into shadows of bewilderment.” In A Burnable Book, unknown-before-to-me author Bruce Holsinger catapulted himself into a very limited pantheon of historical fiction authors to whom I think deserve a 5-star review. Any reader who enjoys Robyn Young (Insurrection), Richa...
  • Jane
    Actually 2.5. This started out as a 3 or 3.5, but as it progressed I became impatient with it. The premise of a treasonous [or 'burnable'] book, analogous to the prophecies of a Nostradamus, was interesting; gnomic verses are open to multiple interpretations. Each of thirteen prophecies tells of the death of one of England's kings, from William the Conqueror until the present Richard II. Richard II's regicide is predicted in the thirteenth prophe...
  • Kimber
    This is one of those books. The ones that when you flip the last page and contemplate what you just read make you wonder, "How in the name of all that is creative did he come up with that?" I wasn't sure of my feelings during the first few chapters of A Burnable Book. I was confused. There were so many characters and places and I was still trying to get my mind wrapped around Medieval vernacular and practices. However, I soon found myself unable ...
  • Bookish Ally
    "Though faun escape the falcon’s claws and crochet cut its snare, when father, son, and ghost we sing, of city’s blade beware!"As this book begins we view the murder of a woman, whose identity we do not know by a man with an unknown identity who is described only by a rich description of his voice: “At first he is kind seeming, almost gentle with her. They speak something like French: not the flavor of Stratford-at-Bowe nor of Paris, but a ...
  • Elizabeth A
    I'd been saving this one, sure that I would love it. And you know what? If it were not for the fact that I listened to the audiobook, superbly narrated by Simon Vance, this would have ended up in my DNF pile. This is a historical mystery of sorts, set in London, circa 1385. I really liked the gritty atmosphere the author captures, but I was bored with the overall story. I'm not sure I've read Chaucer, or if I did in school, it's lost to the mists...
  • Amber
    I picked this book up because I loved the story of Chaucer when I learned about him in my English class. I was intrigued by this new spin on his story and was sadly let down. I did not finish this book. I'm usually the kind of reader that sticks with a book until the bitter end, but in reading this book I felt like the little dog chasing it's tail. The author kept adding characters and vaguely tying them into the plot; going back and forth betwee...
  • Lawrence
    Two sliding-doors moments in my life colour my response to this wonderful book. First, it's 2007, and having spent the past few years writing a scholarly book on the great fourteenth-century poem Piers Plowman, I decided I needed to plot my escape from its wiles. I had found a small text whose appearances I was trying to trace, and typed 'commonplace book' into the library search catalogue. The top hit was the Winchester Anthology, a compilation ...
  • Nita Kohli
    What a journey to the fourteenth century England! This book took me to an era and showed me two sides of a city - one that is bright with its Kings, poets, chancellors and the other is dark with its maudylns and butchers filled with filth and dirt. But, even where all looks bright, the city is full with people with deception as their second nature. Every one has a secret and all of them hold their secrets hidden close to their heart.From the very...
  • Ellen Gail
    4.5 history-mystery-britishy stars!A cloth, a book, a snatch of verse. Which is worth dying for?Bruce Holsinger's debut novel is a total winner! Set in 1385 England, the plot centers about a treasonous book of poems that prophesies the deaths of English kings, including one that hasn't happened yet. Using a mix of real historical figures and a dose of imagination, the plot is fantastic. It's mysterious without being unnecessarily withholding. It ...
  • Gretchen
    I really wish Goodreads would invest in a half star system. I think this book was better than three stars but not quite four stars. I found certain parts to be brilliant (view spoiler)[ for example the letter exerpts that we later find are written by Seguina d'Orange. The description of Prince Edward "Their lord, a prince from a northern land, was a hard man, with a pale face that might have been cut from stone. A forked beard fell from his chin ...
  • Cphe
    The power of the written word, to bring down a King, to solve a mystery.This story contains a wealth of historical information and detail of London during the time of Richard 11. It also contains a very fine mystery and plenty of political intrigue, it's also a little bit bawdy.When rumours of a treasonous book begin circulating in 1385 London, and an unknown woman is murdered while being in possession of the book, Geoffrey Chaucer calls in a fav...
  • Faith Justice
    This one takes a while to get into, but is worth the effort. Setting his story in 1385 during the reign of Richard II of England (son of "The Black Prince" Edward), Holsinger provides us with a huge cast of characters (44 are listed in the front matter) spanning all classes from royals and aristocrats to poets and bureaucrats to prostitutes and apprentices. In this sprawling mystery, a dangerous book prophesying the death of the king is circulati...
  • Patricia Bracewell
    I feel lukewarm about this book, perhaps because I read it on a kindle and didn't flip backwards for some desperately needed clarifications as I would have with an actual book (I am still not Kindle-savvy)so I was never really comfortable inside the non-pages of the book. That observation out of the way, let me consider what I liked about this mystery involving the poets John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer. The 14th century setting, for one thing. Ho...
  • Kirsten
    Political intrigue! Machinations! Powers struggling for the British Crown! All set in the reign of Richard II. I read this book as part of the Goodreads Choice Awards challenge. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a mystery/thriller set in one of my favorite periods. A few years back, I had read a wonderful historical novel about Katherine Swynford: Katherine by Anya Seton and this book had Katherine in it as well as other players:...
  • Megan
    Oh, man, this was just one complicated reveal after another. Just when you think you've got it figured out, Holsinger adds another complex layer to his mystery and draws you in even further. With characters ranging from aristocrats down to London prostitutes (including the gender fluid Eleanor-Edgar Rykener), it's a fascinating look at a late-14th century England that's boiling over with suspicions and plots.
  • Lisa
    I'm a big fan of historical fiction but this debut novel did not wow me. The storyline and plot were interesting enough but I found the alternating POVs less than compelling and there were a lot of characters randomly explaining what they've done (think "I'm the dastardly villain who must now narrate my diabolical plot in order to give the hero time to save the day" kind of stuff) that irked me. Average, at best.
  • Michele
    A literary thriller that forces the reader to pay close attention and hang on for the ride, A Burnable Book takes us to Chaucer's London - 1385 - where a heretical book has gone missing and everyone from the highest nobility to the lowest prostitute wants to find it, albeit for different reasons. Narrated by John Gower, a close friend of Chaucer and notable English poet himself, the importance of the missing book is gradually revealed throughout ...
  • Sanne
    This book is highly enjoyable, the writer clearly has talent. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us next. However, the book feels like a debut novel. I had some difficulty with the writing in the beginning of the book. It didn't flow very well and was a bit of an obstacle for me getting into the story. As the story progresses, the writing improves, and by the end, during the climax, the writing was great. It flowed and had just the righ...