In Chaucer’s London, betrayal, murder, royal intrigue,
mystery, and dangerous politics swirl around the existence of a prophetic book
that foretells the death of England’s kings in this irresistible historical
thriller, reminiscent of the classics 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.
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