Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mystery and Deceit in Charlemagne's Empire

A lady ahead of her time, Theresa wants to be a scribe. Her father, taught her to read and write. For the past several years, she has been working as an apprentice parchment maker. She knows as much or more about parchment than Korne, the master parchment maker, but because she is a woman, he is reluctant to admit her to the guild. When she takes the test to join the guild, Korne gives her a rotten cow hide to work with. The test ends with catastrophe. Theresa flees Wurzburg and begins a series of harrowing adventures.

Her father, Gorgias has a secret that is behind many of the family's trials. He is protecting a codex. When he believes the original is lost, he starts to rewrite it from memory. The mystery of the codex ties Theresa's father to Charlemagne and could affect the fate of the empire.

This historical accuracy in the book is excellent. The author manages to bring the period of Charlemagne to life. This was the most excellent part of the book.

The characters are intriguing. Theresa and Gorgias are talented scribes, but they must fight against enormous odds with little to defend themselves.

My problem with the book was the length. I like long historical novels, but I felt this one spent too much time on Theresa's travels and left the important mystery in which Gorgias was involved in obscurity. The solution to the mystery came toward the end of the book. By then I'd forgotten it was important. I think the novel could have been more cohesive by moving back and forth the between the main characters more often.

I recommend this book if you like big, well researched historical fiction.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.