"A Burnable Book," Murky Story of Medieval Intrigue - The Missourian: Blogs

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"A Burnable Book," Murky Story of Medieval Intrigue

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Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014 10:28 am | Updated: 9:57 am, Tue Mar 4, 2014.

This story of intrigue in 14th century England, narrated by a medieval scholar and written by Bruce Holsinger, will peak the interest of readers who enjoyed books like “The DaVinci Code,” by Dan Brown, and “The Name of the Rose,” by Umberto Ecco.

The eponymous “burnable book” contains prophecies detailing the deaths of English kings beginning with William the Conqueror. All of the deaths happened exactly as prophesied. Only one death has yet to occur: the death of the current king, Richard II.

The book falls into the hands of London prostitutes. People are killed in an effort to obtain it. Geoffrey Chaucer plays a central role in the plot. The reader eagerly turns the page to learn what happens next.

In spite of its potential, “A Burnable Book” will please a small circle of readers. Words specific to medieval life and not known to the average 21st century reader are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. Some of the plot points are murky, causing frustration until the reader get them sorted out. The writing style is clear, the characters and settings well-drawn, but there are instances of overblown writing that cause the reader to stare at the page in disbelief.

Professor Holsinger had a good idea for a novel. It is an enjoyable read for the average reader but will be more deeply appreciated by his fellow medievalists.

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