Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction discussion

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Monthly Group Reads > MAY 2014 (Group Read 3): A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

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message 1: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Apr 14, 2014 05:50PM) (new)

Terri | 19571 comments This is the group read thread for one of THREE May group reads.

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger by Bruce Holsinger

In Chaucer’s London, betrayal, murder and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England’s kings. A Burnable Book is an irresistible thriller, reminiscent of classics like An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Name of the Rose and The Crimson Petal and the White.

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low.

Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews--and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate.

Medieval scholar Bruce Holsinger draws on his vast knowledge of the period to add colorful, authentic detail—on everything from poetry and bookbinding to court intrigues and brothels—to this highly entertaining and brilliantly constructed epic literary mystery that brings medieval England gloriously to life.



message 2: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments Anybody interested in joining in this group read come May, you may like to know that the author will be popping in to follow the discussion, answer questions etc.. from time to time.
So, if you have a query or want to give the author feedback as you read the book, post it here in this discussion and Bruce Holsinger may find it and answer it during May.

Also, I have done an interview with Bruce on the group blog which I will post to the blog end of April or may 1. (will post a link here when it is up).

I think you will all really enjoy this interview. It certainly made me even more excited about starting the book May 1st!!


message 3: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments I got my copy of A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger from the library last weekend, so I will be rearing to go come May 1. can't wait.

I'll read one of two winning Ancient group reads The Song of Troy, after I finish A Burnable Book.

I would love to start the book early, but I refuse to. I really want to read it with all of you and the author, at the same time.
Sooooo. I wait...


message 4: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments I got my copy from the library last Thursday, but I have to return it a week from Thursday because of the size of the queue. So, I'll be reading it now, but taking down notes and discussing with everyone once they start.


message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments Ready to read BURNABLE BOOK? (sorry, no book/ author feature that I can find).


message 6: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (dward526) | 290 comments I will be spending an audible credit on this, it is narrated by Simon Vance, sometime in the beginning of the month.


message 7: by C.P. (last edited Apr 16, 2014 03:45PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 564 comments Hoping to join in this read, but I have a group read on Doctor Zhivago to lead plus another book to read first, so I may be a bit late.


message 8: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I think a few of us are just hoping to get our books from the library before the end of May, so I'm sure you'll have company it you join in later!


message 9: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments A Burnable Book I started and stopped the book last night. It is not May, yet. Please give me your thoughts asa you start the book.


message 10: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments I have to return my copy to the library tomorrow, so I've just finished it. I'm waiting for others to begin before sharing anything though. :)


message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Good sign that you rated it so high!


message 12: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I'm still hoping I get this one before the end of May. Someone in line ahead of me needs to be a fast reader and not take the entire 3 weeks, if that's gonna happen.


message 13: by Sanne (new)

Sanne (sanneennas) | 79 comments I've also already finished it (couldn't contain myself once my copy arrived in the mail). I'll wait for the others to start for sharing my thoughts. I also hope the author has time to drop by, because I have some questions as well :)


message 14: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments The opening chapter was a let down for me. If Darcy rated it four stars, it must pick up.


message 15: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments It should explain that there are things I suspect others may not like about this book. The first 1/3 I guess is mainly bits and pieces and as the story unfolds, those bits start to meld and make sense.
I don't always enjoy that sort of thing, but I think this author did it really well. Also, I rounded up. :)


message 16: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen (eab2012) Is it Thursday yet? I've already started this book but will wait until May officially starts before discussing. I have to have my copy back to the library by May 12. I needed to start a little early.


message 17: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments I'm still waiting to start May 1. :)


message 18: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments Ah, go ahead and read the first chapter!


message 19: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments No, I shall not be lured into breaking early. ;)


message 20: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments I have the interview with Bruce Holsinger poised and ready to go up on the blog. I was going to release it today (as I usually post the group read interviews around the 28th/29th in order to get people excited), but I have decided to post this one on the 1st of May.


message 21: by Haydn (new)

Haydn Morris Walked into my library yesterday and there it was on the shelf. So lucky.
Making an early start on it today as I may not get the time to read later in the month, and I'm a slow reader!


message 22: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 55 comments I had to start early because my family has a lot of events for my daughter's college graduation this month! I'm having trouble getting into it because I've read several chapters and they have all had different points of view/different main characters. As they say on Survivor, I'm waiting on the merge!

Just a small tidbit- there is a cast of characters at the beginning; there is no marking to distinguish, as there has been in past books that we have read, the characters that have a basis in history. I miss that.


message 23: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Brumback | 85 comments I'm on the wait list, so I hope I get it before the end of May. I recently had to wait about 6 months for the Goldfinch. Aargh. . .


message 24: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (suzanne_d) | 34 comments Just made it to the top of the waitlist for the library's ebook, so I'll have to try to get through it in the two weeks allotted. Luckily I have a couple of work trips that should provide plenty of airport and hotel time-to-kill...


message 25: by Darcy (new)

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments Candace wrote: "Just a small tidbit- there is a cast of characters at the beginning; there is no marking to distinguish, as there has been in past books that we have read, the characters that have a basis in history. I miss that. "

Most of the characters in the book are historically based. If I recall correctly, the authors note does go into that. I believe it's at the end of the book.


message 26: by Haydn (new)

Haydn Morris Nancy wrote: "I'm on the wait list, so I hope I get it before the end of May. I recently had to wait about 6 months for the Goldfinch. Aargh. . ."

Wish I'd known Nancy, I bookmooched a copy Of Goldfinch a few weeks ago.


message 27: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments Is there a reason for naming fictitious characters the same names as real characters?


message 28: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments Darcy wrote: "Candace wrote: "Just a small tidbit- there is a cast of characters at the beginning; there is no marking to distinguish, as there has been in past books that we have read, the characters that have ..."

I know what Candace means because I am having the same experience. Some characters are historical,while others or not.. Since the author did not say 'fictitious', I have to go elsewhere to get the info. The maudlyns (sp) listed within the first 147 pages are fictitious, perhaps give or take one or two. (Candance, you stated this situation much better than me.)


message 29: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments It is the 1st in Australia right now. I will be starting today. WOOT!! :]


message 30: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I am obsessively checking to see when people return this one to the library and so far it's not looking good for May. *sigh*


message 31: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments Damn. That's disappointing. I would have liked to have you along.


message 32: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments It's been ages since we've both managed a group book at the same time.


message 33: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments I know! I thought this month we'd have one at least, but it isn't panning out.


message 34: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments Okay! Interview with Bruce Holsinger is up on the blog. Hope it inspires you during the read! Or, provokes some thought if you have already read the book.

http://ancientandmedievalmayhem.blogs...


message 35: by Alicja (new)

Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 657 comments I just finished Augustus so now I'm picking this one up tonight and starting it. Amazing, I always seem to lag at least a half a month behind on my group reads but I am actually starting this one on the 1st!


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Terri wrote: "Okay! Interview with Bruce Holsinger is up on the blog. Hope it inspires you during the read! Or, provokes some thought if you have already read the book.

http://ancientandmedievalmayhem.blogspot...."


As always, great interview & great questions, Terri. Thanks Terri & Bruce!


message 37: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments You're welcome, Derek. Glad you liked it.


message 38: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments I am besotted with the language used in the dialogue so far. Truly wonderful.


message 39: by Sanne (new)

Sanne (sanneennas) | 79 comments Now that it's officially May, I'll post my question for Bruce. I hope you'll drop by to respond! (I'll just drop my question below a spoiler, for those of us who haven't read about the character yet. My question is about things read in chapter 5 & chapter 12, for people wondering if they can open the spoiler already or need to wait a bit more).

I've got a question about Eleanore.
I think she's a fascinating historical figure, and what little we do know about her only calls up more questions about her life and others like her, so I was very interested in reading your interpretation of her.

(view spoiler)


message 40: by Linda (last edited May 02, 2014 04:33AM) (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments Terri, when you speak to the author again, would you please ask him why he named the whore Joan? She is fictitious, but the Joan of the court is real. Thank you. Linda

ll

The blog will not load for me. I wanted to read your interview with the author.


message 41: by happy (new)

happy (happyone) | 2726 comments good interview Teri - as always :)


message 42: by Jane (new)

Jane | 3469 comments Linda wrote: "Terri, when you speak to the author again, would you please ask him why he named the whore Joan? She is fictitious, but the Joan of the court is real. Thank you. Linda

ll

The blog will not l..."


Blog wouldn't load for me either, Terri. I tried several times.
Linda, Joan was a common name, but he could have used Jane [I hate to say it:)] for the madam. Both names are from the same etymology, after all and were common back then. It would help people keep the characters apart in their minds better.


message 43: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Here is the interview for those who couldn't get Blogger to load. It's only in a spoiler to make it a shorter post!

(view spoiler)


message 44: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments In ROSES OF WINTER by Murdo Morrison, he used the same name for fictitious characters many times. I had just finished that book when I started the present book. What did I find? An author giving a fictitious character the same name as a historical character. If the practice is a trend, I do not like it. I stay confused enough without the same name adding to my confusion. lol


message 45: by Linda (new)

Linda (ladylawyer8650) | 1696 comments I agree with Jane on the same name confusion.


message 46: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (suzanne_d) | 34 comments Thanks for the interview Terri, I found it really interesting!

Twelve chapters in, and I'm really enjoying the book - I like the way the prose flows, it's easy reading without sacrificing the sophisticated voice one would expect from Gower and Chaucer. The different settings of court, city and stews all feel well drawn and well distinguished.

I'm interested in the author's choice to use a first-person perspective for Gower, as it doesn't yet seem to offer a deeper insight into his character than the others (although I'm wondering if that *is* the insight into Gower - he takes his secret-keeping seriously :-) ).


message 47: by Haydn (new)

Haydn Morris Just read the blog interview via Facebook. Some good questions and interesting answers. A five book series would be good judging from what I've read so far, but whether the author will get the chance will be another thing. I wonder what his un published books were like? A bit of perseverance pays off and a lesson for any potential authors out there.


message 48: by Alicja (new)

Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 657 comments Good interview Terri! I'm about 50 pages in and the interview got me even more excited to keep on reading. Good book pick as well (so far :P). Love the style of writing!


message 49: by Haydn (new)

Haydn Morris I agree a good choice of book so far. The style of writing is different to what I'm generally used to so I find I'm having to re read the odd line or two to understand a particular phrase or meaning. The first few chapters are quite earthy in their descriptive sense I thought which made me want to read on and I am enjoying it so far. Just beginning part two.


message 50: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new)

Terri | 19571 comments Good reads isn't working for me.


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