Alix Christie's rich and enthralling debut novel reveals the explosive human drama behind the world-changing invention of the printing press and the creation of the world’s most famous book: the Gutenberg Bible.
The year is 1450. Peter Schoeffer, an ambitious young scribe, returns from Paris to Mainz, his home town on the Rhine, at the behest of his foster father, a forward-thinking merchant and bookseller. There he is unwillingly thrown into a workshop that his father has financed, a strange, dark place run by a driven, caustic master named Johann Gutenberg. Its purpose is the manufacture of books in a new - and according to some, blasphemous - way: with a secret invention known as a printing press.
Gutenberg's Apprentice is the story of Peter’s journey from reluctant apprentice to overseer of the most important book ever made, and all that he seeks, and is forced, to understand along the way. It is the tale of a young man torn between two fathers, his resentment and grudging love for a man both brilliant and stormy, their battle to prevail against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including struggles within the workshop and against the crushing power of the Catholic Church. Each step they take awakens age-old conflicts between art and commerce, tradition bristling against technological progress, and fate versus human agency. This is the untold story of the last great communications revolution, with all the wonder and doubt the digital world provokes today vividly experienced half a millennium ago, in the workshop that produced the world's first printed book.
Writing with a rare sense of authenticity, Alix Christie has created in her debut novel a richly imagined, emotionally powerful, and spectacularly convincing account of one of the most important events in Western history.
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