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Extended Audio Sample The Illuminator Audiobook, by Brenda Rickman Vantrease Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,461 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brenda Rickman Vantrease Narrator: Simon Jones Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Illuminator Series Release Date: March 2005 ISBN: 9781593976583
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A glowing first novel that brings us "historical fiction in the grand epic manner, beautifully felt and written"*
It is England, in the fourteenth century—a time of plague, political unrest and the earliest stirrings of the Reformation. The printing press had yet to be invented, and books were rare and costly, painstakingly lettered by hand and illuminated with exquisite paintings. Finn is a master illuminator who works not only for the Church but also, in secret, for John Wycliffe of Oxford, who professes the radical idea that the Bible should be translated into English for everyone to read. Finn has another secret as well, one that leads him into danger when he meets Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor, a widow struggling to protect her inheritance from the depredations of Church and Crown alike. Finn's alliance with Lady Kathryn will take us to the heart of what
Barbara Tuchman once called "the calamitous fourteenth century." Richly detailed and irresistibly compelling, The Illuminator is a glorious story of love, art, religion, and treachery at an extraordinary turning point in history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brenda Rickman Vantrease's The Illuminator is one of the most engaging books I've had the pleasure to read in many years. Extraordinary characters of an extraordinary period in history are portrayed with passion that only an accomplished writer can deliver...This is simply a wonderful book. Terry Kay, New York Times bestselling author of The Valley of Light and To Dance With the White Dog

  • A wonderful novel--a tumultuous panorama of Wycliffe's and Chaucer's England, with an absolutely compelling and irresistible heroine. Max Byrd, author of Grant & Shooting the Sun

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jaimie | 2/11/2014

    " This was a pretty interesting book, but the author killed off almost everyone of interest. Why? Who knows! It didn't really mesh with the book at all. It was set in the middle ages, so maybe she was trying to be realistic that a lot of people died back then. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sylvia | 1/29/2014

    " A fairly well crafted book set in an interesting time in history (14th century England). Within the first 50 pages, I was ready to throw it away as a clumsy bodice-ripper, but the rest of the book was better. I wanted more from the story - more integration of historical fact, more consistent character behaviours, more believable people. I did not find the main character sympathetic - too much swooning and feeling the victim, not enough backbone. I enjoyed the historical quotes, some from figures written marginally into the story line. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie H. Ferguson | 1/13/2014

    " A superb first novel by this author. Set in medieval England Vantrease weaves fiction into fact skillfully making me read late into the night. It's a story of love, parenting, hardships, and dilemmas in which the reader learns of the church's power and deceit, the dismal lives of the serfs, and the beauty of art. Highly recommended for those who love good historical fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeannie | 1/12/2014

    " Good piece of historical fiction, but not a happy one. Satisfying, but frustrating throughout. Great details, realistically tragic time of medieval history. Good blend of real and fictional characters and events. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda | 1/8/2014

    " Pointless....and a really bad ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Naisargishukla | 12/21/2013

    " I enjoyed it! Somehow or other I am in the midst of a middle ages phase. This a bit reminiscent of the Pillars of the Earth. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alice Martin | 12/5/2013

    " I lost interest. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura Lee | 11/11/2013

    " Wasn't too sure at first, but pulled me in and I liked it. Her first book, will read another. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 11/10/2013

    " I enjoyed it, but had to finish the story in my head. Didn't really like the last 1/4 of the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 10/17/2013

    " Brilliantly written first novel. Great building of all characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joleene | 10/4/2013

    " Very engaging story of the end of feudalism. Ending had interesting twist. Heroine , Lady Kathryn, well drawn and relatable. For a first novel very impressive work. I will put this on my list of favorite medieval novels, next to Judith Merkle Riley. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 9/22/2013

    " really liking this story so far.now that I finished it, I don't like the last third part of the story. Too many sad things happening and I kept on hoping it will work it out to a better happy ending. I just found out that there is a book two and I will read to see if it get better ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 5/21/2013

    " I enjoyed this story as much as the mercy seller, which I read first. It was great to get the complete story of the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noura | 2/22/2013

    " Good medieval historical novel. Illustrated the restrictions and challenges of every level of society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dgoll | 9/22/2012

    " Very interesting story. The time period is 14th c. in england where the seeds of reformation are being planted. This would be great to read before reading CJ Samson's Tudor series or before Wolf Hall. It is a quick & much lighter read, which is why I gave it only a 3. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roxane | 8/12/2012

    " I enjoyed the details of life during this period and what was happening with the English Bible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandi | 6/10/2012

    " Thought provoking historical novel of fourteenth century England. Where "the church" has political sway over kings and absolute power over individuals. Love stories, intrigue, drama. Great read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 5/12/2012

    " It started off with promise, but eventually I realized I didn't care what happened to anyone, because they all kept making stupid decisions. I stopped reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becca | 4/4/2012

    " It took me a while to process the ending. I wasn't sure if I loved the book or hated it. I decided I liked it. the characters and story stuck with me and were hard to "leave." it wasn't spectacular, but it was good. I'm interested to read the sequel. That says something, right? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie Ann | 1/18/2012

    " Christians forget that the Bible was not available to the mass market for many many years. This novel tells about the start of the John Wycliffe movement that changed the face of Christianity forever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aiesha | 8/28/2011

    " This is one of my favorite books. I love the time in history that is covered (when John Wyclif wrote the first Bible in the vernacular in England) and loved the main character. She was resilient at a time when women had no rights. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 8/5/2011

    " Set in Medieval England. A librarian friend recommended it to me. We have the same taste in books. Excellent story! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 4/23/2011

    " Takes place after King Edward dies and a widow walks carefully between religions "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chris | 4/16/2011

    " Great writing, but too predictable for me to like. It's me, not the author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lori | 3/27/2011

    " really liking this story so far.now that I finished it, I don't like the last third part of the story. Too many sad things happening and I kept on hoping it will work it out to a better happy ending. I just found out that there is a book two and I will read to see if it get better ending. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann | 2/22/2011

    " I discovered the WONDERFUL books by Brenda Rickman Vantrease quite by accident. Her research is impecible; characters are so well developed - all is a joy! If historical novels is your favorite genre', read all three!
    THE ILLUMINATOR
    THE MERCY SELLER
    THE HERETIC'S WIFE "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kzr0 | 1/19/2011

    " An historical love story, beautifully rendered. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 1/10/2011

    " Brilliantly written first novel. Great building of all characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anneliese | 12/28/2010

    " Historical fiction.... I enjoyed this. The characters are fairly complex and the setting is realistic and well-described. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jaimie | 11/30/2010

    " This was a pretty interesting book, but the author killed off almost everyone of interest. Why? Who knows! It didn't really mesh with the book at all. It was set in the middle ages, so maybe she was trying to be realistic that a lot of people died back then. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mady | 11/13/2010

    " The story of an illuminator in 14th century England, where the Bible is still only available in Latin and for priests, Church rules everyday life and women are always behind men... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dgoll | 10/5/2010

    " Very interesting story. The time period is 14th c. in england where the seeds of reformation are being planted. This would be great to read before reading CJ Samson's Tudor series or before Wolf Hall. It is a quick & much lighter read, which is why I gave it only a 3. "

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About the Author
Author Brenda Rickman Vantrease

Brenda Rickman Vantrease is a former English teacher and librarian who has traveled extensively in the British Isles. She holds a doctorate in English and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

About the Narrator

Simon Jones is an AudioFile Earphones Award-winning narrator. He has appeared in the films The Devil’s Own, Twelve Monkeys, For Love or Money, Green Card, Brazil, Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, and Miracle on 34th Street. His television appearances include a role in The Cosby Mysteries and Murder She Wrote, and he has been featured in nine Broadway productions.