John's Reviews > A Burnable Book

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger
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really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction

“Yet there may come a time when your knowledge will betray you. A time when you will find even the brightest certainties – of friendship, of family, even of faith – dimming into shadows of bewilderment.”

In A Burnable Book, unknown-before-to-me author Bruce Holsinger catapulted himself into a very limited pantheon of historical fiction authors to whom I think deserve a 5-star review. Any reader who enjoys Robyn Young (Insurrection), Richard Blake (Conspiracies of Rome), Iain Pears (An Instance of the Fingerpost), or Robert Low (The Whale Road) would covet an opportunity to “swyve" with Holsinger’s thriller.

Many thanks to the Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction group for bringing it to my attention!

A Burnable Book tells the tale of at least five separate protagonists whose fates ultimately intertwine around a manuscript, conceived by none of them but prophesies the high treason of the death of Richard II. Some may disagree, but the the five main characters and their respective tales, in my opinion, are:

A violent English condottierio.
A wandering Castillian baroness.
An aspiring poet and blackmailer.
A transgendered prostitute trying to save his brother.
A forgotten, audacious mistress of a dead knight.

At the beginning, because so much is going on and so many characters are introduced seemingly at once, I caution that A Burnable Book is not initially an easy read. In retrospect, the relatively difficult time I had deciphering who-was-actually-who added to the joy of reading the novel. That said, the reader should take time to contemplate carefully the initial 20 percent or so of the book and be-not-afraid to consult the list of characters presented in the beginning.

“We live in an immense world, whole universes of taste and touch and scent, of voices commingling in the light, and dying away with the common dread that stands at every man’s door. Yet we perceive and remember this world only as it creates those single fragments of experience: moments of everyday kindness, or self-sacrificing love, or unthinkable brutality.”

One should read this book.
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Reading Progress

May 7, 2014 – Shelved
May 7, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
May 17, 2014 – Started Reading
June 10, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
June 10, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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Terri Good review, John!
I don't know if I'd swyve it though.
I gave the book four stars. I only swyve 5 star books. ;D


message 2: by John (last edited Jun 10, 2014 09:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Thank you! I updated the review to thank/acknowledge the Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction group for bringing it to my attention!

That said, your tastes are far more refined than mine! Some of us don't require prime "queynt" (another word I learned in the tale) to "swyve." ;-)


message 3: by Terri (last edited Jun 10, 2014 09:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Terri haha!! You never know what gems are around the corner in these historical fiction books.
And I fancy we'd never see you down 'Gropecunt Lane'. ;)



(to any unsuspecting reading this...that was a real road name)


Terri Oh..and you are welcome! Glad to help you find a book you have enjoyed so much. :)


John Indeed it was a real street! Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction introduced me to Young, Blake, Pears, Low and many others in my lexicon. I am indebted to you and your team's monthly selections!


message 6: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Interesting review. I loved Pears' book and this one has me intrigued. Thanks.


Terri John wrote: "Indeed it was a real street! Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction introduced me to Young, Blake, Pears, Low and many others in my lexicon. I am indebted to you and your team's monthly selections!"

Always happy to help others find new hf. :)


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