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A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,643 ratings  ·  442 reviews
Some stories are universal. They play out across human history. And time is the river which will flow through them.

It starts with a family, a family which will mutate. For now, it is a father, mother and two sons. One with his father’s violence in his blood. One who lives his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will change t
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published July 23rd 2020 by Doubleday
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Alisa This is one of the things that really bugs me about the novel. Does Boyne intend to suggest that the characters carry the memories of their past lives…moreThis is one of the things that really bugs me about the novel. Does Boyne intend to suggest that the characters carry the memories of their past lives with them? (less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  1,643 ratings  ·  442 reviews

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Emily May
Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, modern-lit, 2020
A judgement all those years ago that the integrity of my art was more important than the welfare of a stranger had led to so much misery and death.

This book took me longer than usual to read and, for a long time, I thought that was a good thing. I was really into it. I was taking my time, absorbing it, making notes, researching things that piqued my interest. As a huge 5-star-level fan of Boyne's The Heart's Invisible Furies and A Ladder to the Sky, I had been so excited for A Traveller at t
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
john boynes books are the places i go when i seek comfort and need familiarity. so i cried tears of joy when i was given the opportunity to read an ARC of his newest book and reading this felt exactly like coming home.

so it is absolutely no surprise that i consider this story to be a marvel and a triumph - for both the literary world and humanity as a whole. the uniquely constructed narrative and high-quality writing pleads with every emotion of the human spirit. the complex storytelling is so
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
John Boyne is a wordsmith of the highest order, and with ‘A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom’, he’s surely created something quite unique. Its scope is immense, and the research needed to create this novel leaves me with unbridled admiration.

A strangely hypnotic read, relating the story of a man over the course of 2000 years, which though confusing initially, with the constant changes of both location and period in history, it soon becomes clear that intertwining themes such as family, love, lo
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A Divisive Read

“One day, you will live among the stars.”

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is about the history and destruction of civilization.

Spanning over 2000 years, a nameless narrator shares their personal history, and the world’s history, in varying times and countries. While time passes and locations change, the narrator’s story continues without much change until the very end. From the beginning in Palestine, A.D. 1 to the epilogue in A.D. 2080, the narrator’s long, drawn-out history
Elyse  Walters
The tidbits, thoughts, and few excerpts I’ll share in this review are with the intention to be supportive....
give a few insights ....( without spoilers)
so ‘as’ to be helpful to other readers. I haven’t read other reviews yet myself....[ THIS BOOK WILL BE RELEASED IN AUGUST, 2020],
but I’m guessing I might not be the only early reader who sees something VERY different going on in this SPRAWLING TALE of HUMANITY. It requires a little patience.
It’s not like past books by John Boyne , ( but fans an
A mind blowing and original reading experience from John Boyne here, travelling through two thousand years of human and family history, epic, multilayered and ambitious storytelling that initially I admit had me feeling anxious, worried I was not going to get into or get this novel, but like a rubik's cube, some of the pieces began to click into place one after the other, as the connections began to become more transparent. It begins in the Roman world of 1AD, and a narrator and his family, trav ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
John Boyne is one on my favourite authors and I was thrilled to open his latest novel. What I was offered was a most original concept that I could not have anticipated. A boy in born in Palestine in A.D.1 just when his father receives an order to kill infant boys under the age of two ... Next chapter begins in A.D.41, in Turkey and is a continuation of the story, with the same characters, whose names whose names are different but always begin with the same letter. What a concept!
Reading A Travel
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is a story of human history brimming with mythical vibrancy as we are invited to explore the world through a nonlinear lens. The challenge is to see the progress of a man’s life and his experiences from birth to an elderly grandfather over the course of two thousand and sixteen years, plus a seismic jump into the future amongst the stars in the epilogue.

Each chapter is based in a unique time and place, with a nebulous family of different names as the l
Angela M
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sprawling journey through time, centuries actually, and across the globe, a story of a family and so much more, wonderfully written as I anticipated with a John Boyne novel. A unique structure as dates and places change, the names of the characters vary, but have the same beginning letter, and the story line expands reflecting the history and culture of the place and time. A “time travel” story of sorts as the family appears again and again and again in each chapter. An unnamed, artistic boy g ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ireland, netgalley
The plan was to give the novel 3,5* rounded up to 4. Then the last chapter and the epilogue happened. I can safely say that those two chapters made the most ridiculous and out of scope ending I have ever read. I cannot understand why it was written like this and how an editor allowed it to be published like this. I will write more about that later in my review.

First of all, the novel idea was brilliant. As many other reviewers wrote, I’ve never read a book quite like it. The author tells us the
Andrew Smith
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
How to describe this book, that’s the challenge. Reading it is certainly a different experience to that provided by any novel I’ve come across before. At first it confused and frustrated me and later, as I settled into its rhythm, it amused and entertained me but towards the end I started to wonder what it all meant, what it was it that was Boyne trying to say. And though I’m not really sure that I’ve gained a true comprehension of the author’s intentions I do believe this truly epic tale is one ...more
A true ORIGINAL......

Oh Boy! How do you rate a virtually Unputdownable!....Absolutely Extraordinary! read with a beyond weird....out of this world last chapter? Hmmmmm.....Overall I thought the epilogue fine, it actually made me laugh, albeit I prefer to keep (view spoiler) out of my one true source of escape from reality....especially during a pandemic....especially during a tumultuous (view spoiler) A TRAVELER AT THE GATES OF WISDOM actua

Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars
A unique and imaginative story that held my attention from the very first chapter. I loved the construction of this novel, and John Boyne is a master in storytelling and but those last two chapters just didn’t fit with what went before and what was a 5 star read turned into a 3.5 star rating for me which means I enjoyed the read just not one for my favourites list.

A whistle stop tour of 50 countries through two thousand years that was epic in scope and quite a tale but what a well c
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, be prepared to be taken on a trip through time and place. With each chapter, we are introduced to a reincarnated version of the same man, watching his life progress a little more each time. It shows us the continuity of life, in small ways like certain images to the larger similarities of life events. Alternating between the positives and negatives, the winners and losers, we see both sides of each equation. “I have traveled further than you know, as have ...more
“Indeed, Marinus was as likely to be found in a virgin’s bed as her grandmother’s, and on the rare occasions when his advances were rebuffed he assumed the woman suffered from a disorder of the mind and took her anyway, for he recognised no one’s rights but his own and those of his peers within the Roman legion.”

A family saga of the Family of Man, humankind from the first year in the Christian calendar, AD1 in Palestine. Roman legionnaire Marinus is the father of the family in a story that ope
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
What a journey this has been!  I absolutely love this author's originality and flair.  The chartered destiny of a family is laid out in these pages and it is enthralling.  Not sure why, but it made me think of an old TV show that had a lead-in of  "Man.  Woman.  Birth.  Death.  Infinity."  It didn't take long to fall into step with the way in which this was presented and it was superb.     

The last chapters grabbed me right by the nose hairs and clobbered me upside the head.  Why did you do that
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme…

-- Songwriters: Alan Menken & Howard Ashman

Beginning in A.D. 1 and ending in 2080, this story, these stories, connected by people, place, the nature of people and the condition of the ever changing, but not-really- changing-so-much-at-all world, is epic.

As this story begins, it is on the night when the narrator in A.D. 1 is born in Palestine, although his father is not there to witness this event, as he, along with thirty other soldiers, had been sent
Larry H
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars, rounded up.

A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom is a sweeping look at love, family, history, and destiny.

Have you ever read a book that you felt you couldn’t describe properly? That’s definitely the way I feel about John Boyne’s newest book. What I can say, however, is once again, his storytelling blew me away.

We start at the dawn of time, 1 AD. A baby is born to a warrior and his wife, amidst his father’s acts of violence. The baby has an older brother, who mostly resents him.

The st
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

John Boyne is a very gifted storyteller and he uses this gift well in this hugely creative, ambitious and thought provoking epic that had me enthralled from page one. The story begins in AD 1 and moves forward in time through the centuries to the present time and ends in the year 2080. The story is told by the narrator, the main protagonist, with whom I felt a deep affinity; an artist who started life only wanting to love and create art. But, this epic is the story of man’s imperfection
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
3.5 stars!

Thank you to Random House for the gifted ebook. I also bought a physical copy.

A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom is only my second book by John Boyne. My first was A Ladder to the Sky, which I loved. A Traveler was so very different from that one, and I think that speaks to Boyne’s immense talent.

In a nutshell, this book travels from ancient time through the future with common characters and story elements. It also travels through different places/countries over that period. It is epic
When I was offered the opportunity to read John Boyne’s upcoming novel I immediately said “Yes, please!”, I didn’t need to know anything about it. I loved his A Ladder to the Sky and The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

So I started reading it without having any idea what to expect. I got startled a bit, thinking it’d be a Jesus/Christian parable, reinterpretation etc. , soon to realise that it wasn’t. Phew. It was slightly confusing in the beginning, it didn't take long to get the gist of it. Our unnam
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With his latest novel, John Boyne proves once again what a talented, creative and versatile author he is. 

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is unlike any other book I've read. Spanning over 2000 years and set in countries all over the world, it might seem at first that the individual stories are not related, but they are all intertwined. The narrator might be a different person each time but his voice is the same as his life story repeats and he seeks his vengeance over the course of 21 centuri
I loved John Boyne’s novels A Ladder to the Sky, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies. When contacted by the publisher to read his latest, I looked forward to the opportunity.

A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom is unlike those I’ve previously read. An historical fiction where a man travels through different time periods and many countries. The novel is original and very ambitious. Sad to say it wasn’t one I found enjoyable. However, many friends on Goodreads felt differently and rated Boyne’s book hi
I can honestly say I have never read a book quite like this before. I am also really stumped on how to describe this book without giving anything essential away.

Ok, here we go. I am sure most of us have been exposed to the idea of a person having multiple earlier lives going back in time. So take that concept, but imagine that your earlier lives and the earlier lives of everyone around you, are mostly unchanged from life to life, beyond just the changing of time and place for each life. Even wh
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
This is a very gimmicky book. It tracks a nameless craftsman and his family from 1 AD to 2080 AD. Each short chapter takes place at a different time and place, but each successive chapter picks up the story where the previous chapter left off, even though there can be a 40 year gap between chapters. It was probably a fun exercise to write this. I found it clever and enjoyable, but sort of pointless.

Along the way, the craftsman (his craft changes from chapter to chapter) marries (and loses) mult
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
DNF @ 50 pages.....I don’t think I’m smart enough to read/understand this book 🙃
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads, fiction
A masterly stand alone novel by John Boyne published 2020.

I’ve read many books by lots of author and no matter how good the author might be there is always, at least, one of their books that falls short of the mark for me. But this has yet to happen for me with any of John Boyne books, so far.
This book is thought provokingly unique and is equally unique conceptually. I should qualify that by saying ‘for me’.

John Boyne takes us on a journey that starts at the start of the Christian calendar and c
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-arc
I have been a lucky reader to receive this book through goodreads giveaway program. I was awarded a kindle version.

John Boyne is one of my favorite authors. He is an outstanding story teller. This book takes the prize.
It is totally unique from anything that he has written. I guarantee you have never read a book like this one.

It is a world wide tour of many countries and different time frames.
The saga starts in Palestine 1AD. We meet a nameless man and his family and learn of his life during this
Boyne tackles two time-lines at once in his latest novel. First there are the fifty historical locations that begin in the year one and end in the future—moving from ancient Rome, to Turkey, to Afghanistan, to Ireland, and so forth. Then there is the second time-line consisting of the narrator, his father whose name always starts with the letter M; his mother the letter F, brother J, sister A, and so forth. This family ages slowly over the course of the two millennia. Boyne’s object seems to be ...more
Sharon Metcalf
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, 2020, netgalley
I feel sure John Boyne's latest novel A Traveller At The Gates of  Wisdom will be one that draws mixed reviews.   It won't surprise me if it splits readers into two camps - those who love the genius of it and those who just don't get it.   Alas I found myself in the latter category, stubbornly determined to finish it because, after all it was John Boyne, but flailing and not exactly enjoying it.    In this respect it reminded me of Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders.     Reviewers either lo ...more
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John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

His novel

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“The gods would never allow such a perverse outcome, would they? I am divine. My place is on the mountaintop with Jupiter, Mars and Apollo.” 1 likes
“Some day we may build towers taller than the eye can see, fly through the sky on wings, even live among the stars. But I know this much; the things that surround us may change, but our emotions will always remain the same. A man who loses his beloved wife a thousand years ago suffered the same grief that I felt when I lost mine, no more no less...Love does not change, anger never varies. Hope, desperation, fear, longing, desire, lust, anxiety, confusion and joy; you and I endure these emotions just as men and women always have or ever will.” 1 likes
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