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The Black Rose

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  969 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
By stated by the author, this story "grows out of a legend, a most beguiling and romantic legened which is found in a very few old English histories".
"Solid in its facts, colorful and romantic...a rich and remarkable historical tapestry." Quote from Christian Science Monitor".
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Buccaneer Books (first published 1945)
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Best Historical Fiction
493rd out of 5,824 books — 22,265 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,923)
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Kathleen Garlock
Oct 30, 2013 Kathleen Garlock rated it really liked it
I am so lame.

I loved this book as a teenager. When I was young, there were two choices for young girls in historical fiction: books written in the 1950's and bodice rippers. When I was in high school I picked the former. After I graduated, well let's just say I graduated.

I read every book by Thomas Costain that I could get my hands on. Some of them were....meh. This one I loved. I read it over and over again. And I cried every time I came to the part where Maryam is crying out: "Walter. London.
Jan 25, 2011 Mariam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Take a deep dive into the heart of centuries old Great Britain, where your name and lineage are a matter of the deepest importance and there is no middle faction between the wealthy and the poor. The main character of this story travels from the old world of Great Britain, where he is mocked and labeled a bastard son of a wealthy and titled Lord, to the magical and mystical far east, where he is able to earn his worth as a man and experience the strange and unfamiliar ways of lands not even mapp ...more
May 01, 2008 MrsEdwardCullen rated it it was amazing
Please don't tell me that you've seen the movie and because it sucked, you're not going to read the book. The book is WAY better than the movie. Superlatives all around, please. Set in 1272, it tells the story of Walter of Gurnie and his trip to the Orient. Romance, action, comedy--but best of all, the writing is top notch. A timeless classic.
Jul 03, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it
Thomas Costain takes the reader on a 13th century journey from England to China. The book's main character, Walter inherits a large sum of money in London and sets off to China inspired by Francis Bacon. Costain expertly depicts the area between Europe and China, especially the Bedouin tribes. In addition to the journey, Walter loves two women, one a noble and beautiful English woman and the other, a beautiful and beguiling woman Walter meets on his journey.

Unfortunately, it seems that Thomas Co
Oct 03, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
I've read this book multiple times. It's a refreshing novel, published in 1945, and written by the author of "In His Steps" (What would Jesus do? originates here, for the uninitiated - another great novel). Costain portrays this remarkable period of the Dark Ages by framing his plot with three great men - Edward the First of England, the father of parliamentary rule; Bayan of the Hundred Eyes, the brilliant general of Kublai Khan who conquered the whole of China in a series of daring and aggress ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Toni rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-challenge
I really liked this book. I liked the characters and the story. So why am I giving it only 3 stars? It lacked specialness, vital spark, anything that touched me in a way all readers hoped to be touched when they read. I felt no passion for the characters even though I liked them and they were well drawn. I never once sat at the edge of my seat biting my nails wondering what might happen next. I never sat up late at night reading because I just could not put the book down. I never loathed a chara ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
This is one of those books I bought because it looked good; it's one of the first editions, although what printing I have no idea. The cover is simply black with gold lettering, the pages uneven and yellowed. It's a beautiful book, and it has that Old Book Smell that I so much love.

I picked it up because I had run out of things to read; it's what I do on my lunch at work, and I decided that hey, I'd see what it was like, at least until I found something else to read. And lo and behold, I liked i
Aug 23, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it
I came across my edition of ‘The Black Rose’ long after the book was written and long after the movie, but I still consider it a keeper. I thoroughly detested the dry method of learning about past events in World History class, but this book made history come alive for me as I envisioned exploration in faraway lands. The story has a nice blend of adventure, history, and love as the fate of Walter of Gurney, his friend Tristram, and the exotic Maryam gradually unfolds whilst learning about the pr ...more
Sirpa Grierson
Jan 07, 2015 Sirpa Grierson rated it liked it
When my Father died in 1991, he left behind a stash of Thomas B Costain novels. Even as a young girl, I remember looking at these books which always appealed to me because of their titles. This 1946 bestseller about Walter a Gurney, a young bastard son of a noble is a fascinating look back into English history in the 1200s. Costain draws on a legend of an English crusader who becomes the father of Thomas a Beckett, and an Eastern girl who only knows two words of English. Costain began the book w ...more
Mar 14, 2010 Robin rated it it was amazing
This was wonderful tale brimming with adventure and romance. I was immediately drawn to the main character Walter and my opinion of him only grew fonder. The storyline keeps us journeying all over the globe as Walter and his friend set out to the East to find treasures and knowledge to better their positions back home in England. On this arduous journey, he grows from a young school boy into a man, he finds treasures he never imagined, and he gains wisdom and clarity. This story is a masterpiece ...more
Jul 11, 2014 KiplingKat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure
Oh brilliant! I have a great fondness for pure romantic adventure such as Dumas and Sabatini wrote. I am shocked I did not hear of this book until now as this is pure adventure. In the late 13th century the bastard son of an English nobleman and his yeoman pal venture to the east to reach "Cathay" (China) to find their fortune get caught up in a Mongol invasion and (one character at least) find true love. But what happens to that love when she is lost and he comes face to face with his childhood ...more
The principles taught in this work cross into so many different topics of discussion that it's not possible to even start in a review. Suffice it to say that I'm really surprised I've never heard of this gem. It's a fantastic adventure of a nobleman (almost) and his commoner friend in the 1200s and their journey across the Silk Road to China - amazing. Wonderful. Read it!
Despite all favorable reviews, I didn't really enjoy so much this romantic novel written by Thomas Costain.

The characters didn't are so interesting and the plot didn't keep my full attention while reading this book.

Sorry guys but I think TBC wrote better books than this one.
Graham Botha
Jul 01, 2013 Graham Botha rated it liked it
I read this book when I was a teenager and had such fond memories of it that I looked it up and re-read it. Let's just say that my tastes have matured. I enjoyed the reread, but the story lacked the romanticism and excitement my teenage memory remembered.
Jan 12, 2016 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alicia by: Valerie B.
This book and author were highly recommended to me as great historical fiction. This was a good adventure of a young English noble in the 1300’s who headed to the east to make his fortune. My favorite medieval historical fiction works are still The Cloister and the Hearth and The Betrothed, but The Black Rose was an enjoyable read. I may eventually try reading The Silver Chalice by this same author, which has also been highly recommended.


“When wind of opportunity does not blow, find a big
Elijah Kinch Spector
Like, I expect, many people, it was the film of The Black Rose that led me to the book. The movie is, for the most part, quite good, but it definitely feels like a movie of a much longer book. Oh, and the female lead is irritating to the point of ruining every scene she's in. So I was left very curious as to how the original would play out, and then I found a first edition for 6 bucks. Hooray!

All told, The Black Rose is a great book. It's a big and sweeping epic that manages to stay very persona
Dec 11, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Walter Gurnie travels to the orient in search of fame and a name for himself other than bastard. In ways, it surpasses his expectations, but he did not expect to change some of his Saxon views. As a teen, I loved this book and others written by this author. As I reread it, I was amazed how much I still love it. My only problem is that the ending intentionally left me with questions and no sequel in site. That's okay, I'll just dream of my own conclusion for Walter and Maryam.
Rex Libris
May 26, 2015 Rex Libris rated it liked it
This book had been sitting around my mother's house long before I was born, and I decided a long time ago I needed to read it. Now I have.

It was in many ways a good story. Two young 12th Century Englishmen journey to China. Along the way they get recruited into the Mongol army. To hide her from a sad fate and evil relatives, the protagonist marries a young woman along the way. They get separated, and she has to make her way from China to England to find him.

The travels and other portions of the
Jan 02, 2015 Tanya rated it it was amazing
I read this book years ago but have recently recalled it after starting to watch the new Netflix series "Marco Polo." That series has a character called Hundred Eyes which reminded me of Bayan of the Hundred Eyes of this book. This book has everything - adventure, romance, travel and a fun story all together. I loved this book when I first read it 30 years ago and still love it today!
Apr 13, 2010 Susie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susie by:
Thomas B. Costain is one of my favourite authors. He researches for his sources and does excellent work on the history for which he is writing in his novels. This is no exception. This book is one in which a young man and his friend find themselves traveling across Asia in the Middle Ages in the most desperate of times. They meet up with a most beautiful young woman who is called The Black Rose and is about to be a slave and whom they help save. On their journeys they encounter many adventures f ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Ivy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivy by: Michael Stracener
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it
This book is no longer in print, but my mom kept talking about how much she and my grandmother loved it, so I found a used copy and gave it to her for Christmas, then she let me borrow it back. This book took me an entire month to get through. It was written in the 1940s but the setting is in the 1300s. It is a very epic story of a young man from England who travels to China to discover many of the wonders and inventions (paper, cannons, etc.)that the English had never even dreamed of. There is ...more
Robert C.
Sep 17, 2016 Robert C. rated it it was amazing
Impossible to honestly review: I read it after seeing the movie version and fell in love with the adventure and romance of both. Of course, I was only 13 at the time. Still, it was fun!
Will Sawtelle
Jan 12, 2016 Will Sawtelle rated it it was amazing
I first read The Black Rose in High School. I first picked it up to earn extra credit, but found myself captivated by the story of a pair of Englishmen traveling to China. The 1950 movie starring Tyrone Power barely does it justice.

The book was out of print for a number of years, but I found a publisher who was about to make a new print run and ordered a copy. I was again pulled into the story.

A romantic adventure, well written, and well worth reading.
Michael Brown
Mar 17, 2014 Michael Brown rated it liked it
One of my favorite authors as a teenager. Great stories with heroes you did not always like and villans you could understand and be willing to follow.
Jan 13, 2015 Maren rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2015 R.L. rated it it was amazing
One of my first ever favorite books. This is an adventure story set in the fourteen hundreds in England and Asia.
Apr 11, 2016 Janice rated it it was amazing
Really good book
Nov 13, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
My favorite book.
Sep 05, 2016 Reba rated it it was amazing
Long book but totally worth it!
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Costain was born in Brantford, Ontario to John Herbert Costain and Mary Schultz. He attended high school there at the Brantford Collegiate Institute. Before graduating from high school he had written four novels, one of which was a 70,000 word romance about Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. These early novels were rejected by publishers.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford
More about Thomas B. Costain...

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