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The Book of God and Physics: A Novel of the Voynich Mystery

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  81 reviews
“Joven has put together a fine recipe for a thriller.”
Washington Post


A novel of the Voynich mystery, The Book of God and Physics is a gripping, fascinating, and eminently intelligent literary thriller akin to the genre-bending masterworks of Michael Gruber and the “secret histories” of Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code et al). Author Enrique Joven centers his compelling, fast
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by William Morrow (first published October 7th 2007)
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Average rating 3.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  354 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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May 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had hoped for a lot with this book, but I was disappointed. Kept reading right to the end in the hope it might turn around, but alas it did not.
Karma Gyatso
May 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Decided not to finish it. Interesting historical basis but terrible writing.
May 12, 2009 rated it it was ok

Hard to say if the original is so flat or the translation is bad, but this one is a by the numbers historical thriller with a great premise but poor execution
Logophile (Heather)
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book.
I slogged through it and did not find it rewarding despite being about Kepler and Brahe in part, which predisposed me to like it,
Kevin Scott
Sep 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
I read about 100 pages of this and gave up (or cut my losses), as nothing had happened. I'm prepared to accept that a fair amount of exposition is necessary, but it was excessive here and, as far as I could tell, not necessary for what may or may not have happened later. The use of the student as a foil to tell a historical story that appeared to have too many (false) leads was a silly narrative device. Some balance between history and the present "story" might have made this readable, but I gav ...more
Nov 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
Blah....the only interesting thing was learning that there actually is such a thing as the Voynich manuscript. The mystery was plodding, difficult to follow and full of arcane details.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, library
I very much enjoyed this. The Voynich Manuscript really exists (currently housed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University), and since its first appearance at the court of Rudolph II of Bohemia in the 1500's no one has ever been able to crack its code and translate it. The intrepid trio in this novel are working on doing just that, and not without serious (and sinister?) competition, and some personal peril. Written by a physicist, the book teems with mathematics and ph ...more
Emily Park
Jan 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If The DaVinci Code was based in solid fact, and if Dan Brown possessed any writing skills whatsoever, I suspect that The DaVinci Code would have ended up being a great deal like this novel. The two novels are similar in that both plots revolve around a mysterious religious text. In this case, however, the mysterious text in question is actually real, and is kept at Yale University.

The Voynich Manuscript is a set of handwritten pages from sometime around the early 1400s. It is written in an unid
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Hector is a young Jesuit priest who becomes entangled in plot to destroy the school where he works and a race to uncover the meaning of a mysterious real-life book called the Voynich manuscript. During his off hours as a teacher at a Jesuit school in Spain, Hector teams up with two internet friends to track down clues hidden in tunnels and shadows that might help to decode a book which might be a hoax or might contain the secrets revealed by God him/herself.

Just finished an early review copy of
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There are several types of books that I like. One of them is this genre that most European writers actually know best. This is the historical fiction that is mixed with a detective story type of genre. Perhaps, the most common example of this book in the mass media realm is The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, but surprisingly enough, I haven't read that yet. Perhaps it is because everybody else has read it, and I simply do not want to jump into the bandwagon.

But hey, I have read Foucault's Pendulum
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Anything that can be explored should certainly be interpreted."

This quote from Max Planck, the German physicist certainly encapsulates the theme of this novel.

After this epigraph, we're introduced to the protagonist, a young Spanish Jesuit, Father Hector. He teaches math and physics in a Spanish high school. He also has a deep interest in astronomy. He and other of his colleagues [on the outside, as he puts it] are attempting to decipher a mysterious manuscript from the late Renaissance, the
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
This is a great book!

The author takes an obscure, but at the same time well-known, manuscript and weaves a tale of mystery and suspense around it. Of course it helps that the manuscript in question really does exist, sits in the archives a collection at Yale University, has never been successfully translated (not even one little bit!), disappeared for a couple of hundred years, and has Roger Bacon and John Dee as possible authors.

Sure it's not as high on the pop culture scales as Leonardo, but i
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
From the thrill of the chase to the mystery of the unknown outcome. An excellent read.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
It's late and I just wanted to finish this because it's overdue already.

The beginning was slow at times (filled with lots of historical information but gets boring at times like I get the feeling of "can we get back to what happens next?") then towards the ends things are just rushed hence, a couple of loose strings.

I tried to give it a chance when I wanted to give up already but as expected, I was left disappointed at the last page of the book. I kinda saw it coming though because I knew that t
May 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's rare for me not to finish a book but I could only get through a few chapters of this one. The premise is interesting but the beginning was so slow I couldn't stick with it (and I read a lot of 19th century literature, so that's saying something!). It feels as if the author just wanted to complain about other scholars, kids these days, the Spanish government, and anything else he could think of. I also think the translation was not great, so there were many awkward, hard to understand senten ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was ok

Not sure if something was lost in translation, but framing all the history of the manuscript with a fictional story felt very forced; nothing happened with the plot until the last chapter or so, and the info at times seemed rather random and out of sequence. It’s like the opposite of ‘weaving’ fact and fiction. Lots of tell instead of show, way too much exposition, maybe he should of just written a NF book.
The wikipedia page for the Voynich manuscript was fascinating though, 5 stars for whoever
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting mix of history, science and cyber sleuthing. Poor version of The da Vinci Code. Ends with a thud. No resolution. And what’s the significance of Simon in the story?

Interesting also since there are reports that the mystery of the Voynich has been resolved. Which makes for an interesting backdrop.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Adele by: I ran across this due to my recent interest in the Voynich Manuscript. I borrowed it from the library.
The subject matter was fascinating and it was well researched but the writing - or perhaps the translation - did not flow well. The phrasing and conversations were frequently awkward and it was overly didactic and expository - at one point even explaining what Wikipedia is.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has everything I enjoyed in a book and it was very easy to read.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
One word: bleh
Michael Robb
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very good mix of History Astronomy math and science in a fictional storyline based off history.
I loved the premise of this book. Three people are working together to try and decipher an historic and cryptic text. Though they are a varied lot, the astronomer, the Jesuit priest, and the, well we'll call her an other since she's math/computer science/law/just all around amazing, the trio makes sense since all fields seem pretty necessary in figuring out the manuscript.

It is a decent read, but decent is about where I'd stop. It's quick, and if religion (especially Catholic history) or astron
From the initial synopsis of The Book of God and Physics, I was expecting something of an intellectual thriller. Sort of Douglas Preston with footnotes. And, to some extent, I think that's what Joven was aiming for. But if so, he missed the mark by quite a distance. There is a mystery in the book, complete with hidden passageways, secret messages, and surprise betrayals, and a tragic twist near the story's end. But those traditional features of the thriller are slowed down, and the framing story ...more
Erin (Bookish in a Box)
Hector, a young Jesuit priest, is interested in deciphering the pages of the Voynich manuscript. Finally meeting face to face with some online friends, they pursue their quest in Spain and Italy, unlocking some of the unknown and discovering opposing forces of men along the way.

This book took me a while to get through. I'm a fast, avid reader, often finishing a novel in an afternoon if the mood strikes me. The Book of God and Physics took me weeks, not because it is so long, but because it did n
Robert J. Rubis
I was initially fascinated by the premise of this book. Although I had come across a reference to the Voynich Mystery somewhere, I had to check my favorite online reference (Google, of course) to get up to speed. A complete novel written in code, that's never been cracked? Possibly actually an alaborate hoax, and so effectively gibberish, even if it was cracked? A mystery involving political intrigue, social injustice and 21st century technology set in a modern monastery; a sort of 21st-century ...more
Rich Sanidad
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
For me, enjoyment of the books I read is always a matter of context. What else have I read recently? What kind of mood am I in based on what's going on in my life? Etc.

That being said, I think I would have enjoyed The Book of God and Physics more if I had waited a few months. (Minor gripe: I wish they had used the translation of the original title, El Castillo de las Estrellas , instead of coming up with this bland one.) I started this book because I needed a short break from some of the non-
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ultimately, I think I would've enjoyed this a lot better if the author had just written a nonfiction book, either about Kepler and Brahe's lives and accomplishments, and/or a refutation to Heavenly Intrigue (a real book which gets referenced frequently, and not kindly). Because as a work of fiction, this one's not very good. The characters are thin, there are plot threads / things brought up that go nowhere, the author's priorities are in all the wrong places, and there's no climax or resolution ...more
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a mystery that seems at first to be similar to The Da Vinci Code. It features a group of people in the present time who are trying to solve a puzzle involving ancient documemts.
There the similarity ends. The main character in this book is a Jesuit science teacher in a small city in Spain. In his private life, he belong to a group of people who use the internet to research into "The Voynich Document", written hundreds of years ago in a cryptic fashion. This document actually does exi
Robert Clancy
On the surface, this book should have been a grand slam. After all, it covered my personal subjects of interest like The Voynich Manuscript, Renaissance history, Jesuit intrigue, alchemy, Prague, Kepler & Tyco Brahe, and other esoteric subjects. However, like the quest for The Philosopher's Stone or the formula for turning lead into gold, this novel fell short of the high marks I had ascribed to it. It did help to educate me on some items of astronomy, alchemy and history but it lacked the inten ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Three stars for general readers, four stars for Catholic historians, five stars for fans of the DaVinci Code.

If you have more than a passing interest in the origins of modern astronomy and are willing to suspend belief occasionally to enjoy a good ride, this book is a great fit for you. Joven is a career scientist, and the book his heavy with scientific and historical fact (sometimes as lengthy exposition), but this is completely necessary to the story he has chosen to tell. The story is (in som
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