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A Burnable Book

A Burnable Book Cover

A Burnable Book

By Bruce Holsinger

William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062240323, 444pp.

Publication Date: February 18, 2014


In Chaucer's London, betrayal, murder, and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England's kings

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's artful mistress, Katherine Swynford England's young king, Richard II, is in mortal peril. Songs are heard across London catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the ends 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 conspiracy that reaches from the king's court to London's slums and stews and potentially implicates Gower's own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that John Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may hold the key to saving the king, and England itself.

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 literary mystery that brings medieval England gloriously to life.