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The Relic Master

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  4,132 ratings  ·  716 reviews
From New York Times bestselling author Christopher Buckley, “one of the funniest writers in the English language” (Tom Wolfe), a compelling and hilarious adventure featuring a sixteenth-century relic hunter and his best friend, Albrecht Dürer, who conspire to forge the Shroud of Turin.

The year is 1517. Dismas is a relic hunter: one who procures “authentic” reli
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 8th 2015 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  4,132 ratings  ·  716 reviews

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Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Oh, believe me - I wanted to LOVE this book. I pre-ordered and paid a hefty price for it. And maybe it was the wrong time of year, what with all the holiday brouhaha, there was scant time to get really wrapped up in a book. BUT, anytime it takes me fourteen days to finish a novel, there's something wrong. I can't exactly say what was off about this one, but it never really grabbed me. The concept is fine - Dismas travels around, obtaining religious relics for two competing patrons. I quite enjoy ...more
I picked this book up at a local discount store because the cover was cool and the author's name was one that I recognized as one that I liked. (I had previously read Boomsday, and loved the movie adaptation of Thank You for Smoking, which I own but haven't read yet.)

Anyway, so I had a few expectations from this, namely that it would be funny and irreverent, and it was... but it was also somewhat slow moving and just didn't grab me the way that I wanted it to. I've been "reading" it for 4 days, and for 3 of the
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Buckley is done with political satires finding US politics (quite accurately) self satirizing, he's moved on or traveled back to history, specifically early 1500s. It might have been the best career move possible, because Relic Master is just awesome. Buckley's writing has always been clever and humorous, but the historical setting has added that extra dimension, at least for me and probably for any history buff. Present day affairs just don't hold the same appeal as events of bygone ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
“The workings of divine grace were beyond the comprehension of man.”

This novel is quite the departure for Christopher Buckley, and I am curious as to what many of his faithful readers think of “The Relic Master”. It did not bother me all that much, but I could see some of his readers disliking this novel a lot. It is not a political satire and it is not all that funny. It has moments of Buckley’s wit and occasional dry humor, but those traits take a back seat in this text.
The n
Clif Hostetler
Christopher Buckley is a master at writing novels that poke fun at absurdities in modern life. In this novel he has gone back to the sixteenth century and set this novel in a world where selling indulgences and trade in religious relics were major components of the European economy. It's a world so bazaar to twenty-first century sensibilities that almost no effort is required on Buckley's part to make the point that there's no limit to human stupidity.

Here's a link to a short NPR int
Don Gorman
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
(1 1/2). I am going to be kind and in the holiday spirit by rounding this up to 2 stars. I have read many of Christopher Buckley's other books and most have been very entertaining, a few really good. This one does not cut the mustard. The first 100 pages or so are bordering on dreadful, the tongue in cheek and stupidity level reaching an all time high (or low). After that the story becomes more palatable but way down deep it is shallow. Not a strong effort.
Laura Jean
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is by far the best I've read all year. Granted, this is at the end of one of my favorite eras of history and I was already familiar with the political and religious scene that served as the backdrop of this book, but was also woven deftly into the plot. The plot was intricate and enjoyable. The characters stole the show. I loved how their thoughts and actions were so accurate for that period of time. I gobbled it down in almost one sitting. It was also hilarious! It had me laughing out ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So first, a shameful confession, that I haven't read anything by the brilliant writer Christopher Buckley since his 1994 Thank You For Smoking; and that's almost a punishable crime, given the half-dozen smart and cynical books he's churned out since then, an author who is nominally a Republican (he's t
Jake Forbes
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Wonderful setting and a fun cast of historical and fictional characters. Early chapters were a joy while protagonist Dimas is in his element as a relic hunter. The absurdity of his trade combined with his personal code of ethics makes for great dry humor from Buckley. It's in the second half, where it turns into a caper story, that things fall apart a little. The increasingly frequent action scenes are dense with beats but not at all interesting to follow. The villainy of the final act is jarrin ...more
Mal Warwick
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trade-fiction
In an interview conducted by Deborah Solomon for the New York Times Magazine in 2008, Christopher Buckley engaged in this exchange:

[Your father] was a practicing Catholic. What are you? I am post-Catholic.

As opposed to a lapsed Catholic? I am probably more of a collapsed Catholic.

That’s about the size of it, to judge from Buckley’s latest satirical novel, The Relic Master. This diabolical tale is a send-up of the Catholic Church at what was probably the most u
Paul Pessolano
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The Relic Master” by Christopher Buckley, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Fiction Literature/Comedy Publication Date – December 08, 2015.

Looking for something different to read? How about a story that dates back to the 1500’s? How about a story based in some facts and characters of that time? How about a fun read? If you answer “yes” to any of the above pick up “The Relic Master” on December 08, 2015.

Dismas is a Relic Collector. He purchases relics
Andrea: BookStoreFinds
Jan 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me The Relic Master for review. Unfortunately I just couldn't get in the book at all and I found it draining to read. It was written well but It's just not my cup of tea!
Allen Adams
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Christopher Buckley is a veteran of the best-seller lists, known for quirky works of wit and intelligence that take on the nuts and bolts of American government – works such as “Thank You For Smoking,” “God is My Broker” and “Boomsday” that are sharply satirical and wildly funny.

But Buckley’s latest offering finds him traveling farther outside the Beltway than ever before, leaving the machinations of Washington D.C. far behind in terms of both space and time.

Rob Atkinson
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Christopher Buckley is a gifted satirist, as anyone who has read "Thank You For Smoking" will know. His previous works have hilariously skewered contemporary politics, lobbying, and glib duplicity in America, particularly Washington, territory he obviously knows well. Assessing the current scene he decided -- correctly -- our current political scene is self-satirizing, having descended to a reality that already looks like it has come from a satirist's imagination. Hence his move to Europe circa ...more
Quinn Cummings
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a Bing Crosby/Bob Hope road movie, only it's in the 16th century, one of them is a religious relic seller, the other is the painter Durer and they're trying to steal the Shroud of Turin. Christopher Buckley veers sharply from his usual world of DC insiders to write a terrific, lively, smart book about faith, commerce, friendship and cures for the pox. It takes a chapter or so to get everyone in place but once the safety bar comes down across your lap it's a great ride.
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Humorous, satirical romp set in the Reformation period, 16th century Germany, involving a relic seller, a sleazy cardinal, the painter Albrecht Durer and the "Holy Shroud", crème de la crème of relics AND a scam. While the heroes are on their quest, the novel does devolve into silliness. 2.5/5.
Noah Goats
I’ve read a few of Buckley’s earlier novels, and I enjoyed them all. He’s a sharp satirist with a keen ability to slice up the high and mighty of modern America. I don’t know if The Relic Master is his first historical novel, but it’s the first historical novel of his that I have read, and he seemed out of his element. You can make fun of the collecting of religious relics, and it does seem to be a practice invented to be mocked, but it’s not exactly a fresh target, and Buckley brings nothing ne ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
If you like Action/Adventure historical fiction, this is for you. This book reads like a movie, but the movie version would be better.
I didn't find the relationships between most characters believable, and I don't think Albretch Durer often referred to members of the aristocracy as a "sweetie pie", but overall the book was fun to read.
Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2016
It says in blurb that this is a "compelling and hilarious adventure". I needed a hilarious book, so ... well I was tickled in couple of places and it certainly was appealing but I was not laughing, not once, not even a small giggle. BUT it was appealing - I said it already, didn't I - and all the real history that was entwined with the story made it really interesting. I probably do not have enough knowledge about that time period, about Catholicism and about Lutheranism to see the funny side of ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although this book was apparently well researched, it's not what I'd call a historical novel. There are several anachronisms (relic sellers' conventions?). However, don't let that deter you from reading it. Just like accepting impossible things like time travel and FTL Spaceship drive in a SF novel, you have to take the belief in relics seriously to get the most out of Buckley's book. In the beginning, Dismas the relic master is not a charlatan, but an honest dealer in Christian relics who is kn ...more
Keith Landry
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. The only book of Buckley's that I had read before was "Losing Mum and Pup" which I also enjoyed. The start to the book was a little slow for me as it seemed like a "one-trick pony". It dealt with the selling of indulgences by the Catholic Church in the 1500s. Most of the humor came from the relics Dismas would locate and sell to his customers. The story and the humor pickup when Dismas becomes involved in a plot with the great artist, A. Durer, to steal the Shroud of Turin. Ma ...more
Angus McKeogh
Jan 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
My first Buckley book. Hopefully it's just a not very good one mixed in with the rest of his work. The story line was way too far fetched and just ridiculously stupid. Some of the plot points just came out of nowhere and were much too fortuitous. And then there was a treasure trove of stuff that was much too futuristic to have existed in the Middle Ages. Not to mention the dialogue. It's a bad sign when the final two historic pages of the book about the shroud are more interesting than the novel ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The point of historical fiction is to make you feel a little closer to another time, brushing up against some things you knew you wanted to encounter and glimpsing others you never knew you wanted. Buckley draws us into contact with a web of characters from the Protestant Reformation without ever being heavy-handed. A good plot and better than good dialogue keep this satisfying from start to finish.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
DNF around 170p
Fine writing, but I couldn't really get into the story, and the story seemed kind of gimmicky. So much happened but it all seemed contrived (both in plot and character). I thought this would be funnier and a little more complex.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a book set during the Renaissance, full of history and laced with fun, humor, and satire, this book is for you. Written by Christopher Buckley, author of "Thank You for Smoking," and many others—mostly satirical, Buckley decided to write this book. From the book jacket, "During the 2016 election cycle, he [Buckley) concluded that American politics were sufficiently self-satirizing and decide the venture backward in time to a more innocent, les cynical era and place, like, ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
A thoroughly enjoyable novel with plenty of interesting historical context as well as political and religious intrigue. Martin Luther has recently outed the Catholic church for its greed and hypocrisy. Nobles and religious leaders are always on the lookout for ways to screw each other. In 1517 Dismas is THE renowned Relic Master of the Holy Roman Empire, a man with an impeccable reputation. He purchases only “authentic” religious artifacts for two clients, one good (Frederick), the other not so ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
(audio) At the timie f the Reformation and Luther's 95 thesis', Dismas is a "relic hunter", a man who aquires religious artifacts for his wealthy clients; part of the true cross, a thorn from the Crown, the toe bone from a famous Saint. Its the end of the time of buhing indulgences to lessen your time in purgatory and owning a relic can take years off of your time. It is a very lucruative business, but times are getting tough and Dismas and his friend, the German painter Albrecht Durer, conspire ...more
Benjamin Chandler
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Immensely enjoyable.

A heist novel taking place at the birth of the Reformation, featuring a relic dealer named Dismas and Albrecht Durer in a plot to counterfeit the Shroud of Turin. Their lives depend on it.

Buckley really did an excellent job of making the puzzle pieces fit and escalating the stakes every few chapters. In addition, he built a fine "world" for the characters, dripping with (sometimes gruesome) details, but kept some aspects of it, like dialogue, a little
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is right up my alley—a novel about 16th century Europe and the church, Martin Luther, Albrecht Durer, and church and state shenanigans, told wittily and excitingly.

For some reason, though, it did not capture me and I put it aside several times while reading the first third here and there over the past several weeks, several times thinking about dropping it. But I brought it with me on a weekend getaway and, once the main quest began, it hooked me. I read the last half yeste
Bob Martin
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Historical fiction. Set in 1517, a procurer of Christian relics living in Germany schemes with his pal, Albrecht Durer, to create the true burial shroud of Jesus to sell to his patron so that he can retire to his native Switzerland. He is caught and tortured, but is given an opportunity to save himself by stealing another burial shroud. It is a renaissance adventure told in pretty good style. It's a kind of story I really like and this was a good, not great, expression of it.
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Christopher Buckley graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1976. He shipped out in the Merchant Marine and at age 24 became managing editor of Esquire magazine. At age 29, he became chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Since 1989 he has been founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes Life magazine.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goo/>Librarian
“In our corrupt times, the virtue of a Pontiff is commended when he does not surpass the wickedness of other men. —Francesco Guicciardini, History of Italy, 1561” 2 likes
“It was—unthinkable: three of the most powerful men in Europe—the world—the Pope, the Emperor Maximilian, and Albrecht—all wanted Luther tied to a stake and burned. Yet each time they reached out to light the fire, Luther snatched the torch from their hands and set fire to their own robes. How was a mere monk able to do this? Because he was protected by the Elector Frederick, who declined to hand over one of his Saxon subjects to other authority. What did Frederick have to gain by shielding Luther?” 1 likes
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