Monday, January 6, 2014

The Scribe by Antonio Garrido, Simon Bruni

From the author of THE CORPSE READER.

The year is 799, and King Charlemagne awaits coronation as the Holy Roman emperor. But in the town of W├╝rzburg, the young, willful Theresa dreams only of following in the footsteps of her scholarly father—a quiet man who taught her the forbidden pleasures of reading and writing. Though it was unthinkable for a medieval woman to pursue a career as a craftsperson, headstrong Theresa convinces the parchment-makers’ guild to test her. If she passes, it means access to her beloved manuscripts and nothing less than true independence. But as she treats the skins before an audience of jeering workmen, unimaginable tragedy strikes—tearing apart Theresa’s family and setting in motion a cascade of mysteries that Theresa must solve if she hopes to stay alive and save her family.

A fugitive in the wilderness, Theresa is forced to rely on her bravery, her uncommon education, and the compassion of strangers. When she encounters Alcuin of York, a wise and influential monk with close ties to Charlemagne, she believes her luck might have finally changed. But the biggest secret lies between Charlemagne and her father. Theresa moves ever closer to the truth, bent on reuniting with her beloved father, only to discover that her family’s troubles are inextricably entwined with nothing less than the fate of an empire.

This is one of those rare novels that I can't find a single problem with.  The characters are mastered.  They are brilliantly put on display for you to either love, hate, or care nothing at all about.  Each serves a singular purpose in the storyline, which is also masterfully crafted.  While Theresa is trying to figure out who can be trusted, you're right there along with her, trying to figure out the same thing.  Who's the hero and who's the villain?  It's difficult to tell, even at the end.  Things aren't always black and white, but it's still difficult to find a gray area to be comfortable in.
For me, the best part of this book is the way it breeched the time-space continuum.  As soon as you pick the book up, you find yourself lost in another world.  After you've been there for hours, you remind yourself that reality calls and you have to get back to it.  Upon putting the book down, you find that a mere half hour has passed.  The time spent in Garrido's world seems to move more slowly because so much happens in such a short space of time, that you feel a bit jet-lagged when you return to your own. 
This book is worth every penny you spend on it.  It's a guaranteed good read and you'll find that instead of the several hours it took you to read it, you feel like you had years' worth of enjoyment.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Shawn

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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