Alix Christie: Gutenberg’s Apprentice (Review)

Alix Christie's picture

Alix Christie

Alix Christie was born in the Silicon Valley while it was still orchards, and grew up in California, Montana, and British Columbia. A move to New York state to attend Vassar College, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa philosophy major, led to Manhattan and a stint in advertising copywriting. She returned home to pursue a masters degree in journalism at the University of California and have been a peripatetic reporter and writer ever since.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice

 

GD

(2014)
A novel by Alix Christie

An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany – a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible.

Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.”

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary – and to some, blasphemous – method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.”

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.

Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles – a battle that will change history . . . and irrevocably transform them.

Review

This world of books that we love so much, how did it come to be? The Gutenberg Apprentice is a fascinating albeit fictional account of the of how printing and publishing the Gutenberg Bible came to fruition. 

The author gives a wonderful portrayal of the time period and the setting and the characters and well rounded and quickly come to life on the page. There are no great surprises in the book, well we all know the Bible was printed; that however i’snt always the purpose of Historical Fiction, what is important is how the tale happens, and getting to know all the players involved in the tale. As ever with a new industry there is politics, intrigue, backstabbing (sorry said politics) secrecy and many other shenanigans going on whilst the revolutionary Gutenberg tries to bring this new process to life.

For many it may seem like a bit of a dry subject, but its not and because the author tells the tale with such vivid characters and locations, you find yourself quickly lost in the book.

What truly amazes me is that this is a debut… clearly Alix Christie is a talent to watch.

Well worth reading

(Parm)

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