A Burnable Book

  • by Bruce Holsinger
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 13 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Couldn't Be Better!

Would you consider the audio edition of A Burnable Book to be better than the print version?

Yes! Simon Vance is mesmerizing.


What was one of the most memorable moments of A Burnable Book?

They are numerous. I have a great many audio books in my library, but this is the first one that I'm planning to listen to a second time.


Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Same excellent characterization as Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell series, but tighter, darker plotting.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No; I'm trying to stretch it out so it does not end.


Any additional comments?

Go to the Amazon site for this book, and click "Look Inside." There you'll find a map and list of characters that will be most helpful.

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- Patrick M. Dennis

I wanted to like this..

Would you try another book from Bruce Holsinger and/or Simon Vance?

Definitely Simon Vance again. He is one of my favorite narrators. As for Bruce Holsinger, no. I wanted to like this book - it is just my type -historical murder mystery set in Medieval London, but I just couldn't get into it. I kept expecting it to get more interesting, but it remained boring. For me none of the characters stood out as real people, and I didn't care what happened to them. I tried several times to get through, to see if I just hadn't been in the right mood, but I ended up abandoning it yet again.


What do you think your next listen will be?

Currently I am listening to Andrew Solomon's 'Far From The Tree', and, given that it is 33 hours long, I have no idea what I will want to listen to next.


What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I pretty much would listen to Simon Vance read a Cheerios box.


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The descriptions of life in Medieval London were good.


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- Annie Fitt

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-18-2014
  • Publisher: HarperAudio