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Book Review: The Gutenberg Rubric

Posted by gck Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The Gutenberg Rubric by Nathan Everett

Genre: Historical thriller
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Recommended for: Dan Brown/thriller fans, people who are interested in printing and old documents

Back-cover summary:
Did Gutenberg leave a secret?

Just months before the famous Bible that bears his name was finished, Johannes Gutenberg was sued by his business partner for misappropriating funds for a private enterprise. When Gutenberg refused to share the secret project, the court awarded the entire Bible-printing operation to Johan Fust, leaving Gutenberg with nothing but his secret. Was it an alchemical formula? A heretical treatise? A new technology? Or something far more dangerous? Why would Gutenberg risk everything?

Brilliant, eccentric professor Keith Drucker and rare books librarian Madeline Zayne are reluctant heroes in a centuries-old search for Gutenberg’s secret. Crossing continents to follow clues from an encoded rubric and stolen manuscript, the couple face injury and encounter arcane rituals and biblio-terrorism as they race to find the fabled treasure.

But once they find it, will they survive to tell the world?

My review:
Disclaimer: The author is a friend of mine, so I am not completely unbiased.

This would be a really cool book to turn into a movie. Action, global travel, secret societies, biblio-terrorism, historical mysteries, librarians... the whole thing is a lot of fun to read. Everything is well-researched, and the author was able to come up with a plot so realistic that at the end, I was left wondering where the fact ended and the fiction began. Gutenberg and the history of printing aren't commonly explored in fiction, so this novel gets props for choosing a unique topic and making it interesting to the reader.

Though the plot held my attention, was believable, and successfully immersed me into a different world, I was less interested in the characters, a common fault of the thriller genre. Here, the main characters (Keith, Maddie, and Frank) all sound pretty much the same and just take turns asking questions, answering questions, and doing their part of the plot action. Two of the minor characters, Derek (Maddie's ex-husband) and Yousef (Maddie's brother) were more nuanced and had more interesting motivations behind their actions.

I read the Kindle version of this novel, and the images of various printers' marks at chapter beginnings and other places in the book were really nice touches that I don't commonly see in e-books.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Dan Brown style thrillers. It's a page-turner all the way to the end.


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