The Scribe

What drew me to read The Scribe, an historical novel by Antonio Garrido, was the fact that it is an historical novel. I love history, and this story intrigued me. Indeed, it shot me back to a time when Charlemagne was King and the Byzantine Empire thrived. What Garrido managed to do so well in this story was bring that period to life in a way that felt so true and real for this reader. His biography states that he spends years studying a time of history then writing about it, and it shows here in this book. Anyone interested in history would enjoy this story.

However, one downside about this novel is that the story tends to drag on. Some of it was even a little boring. I read passages wondering why the author was telling us about this thing or another, and sometimes it was like the author was just portraying everyday life during that point in time instead of moving the story along. But I hung in there with it and, for the most part, things happened for a reason in this story, so it’s worth sticking with it until the end.

I loved the character Alcuin, who may be a monk but I got a kick out of how he moonlighted as some kind of Sherlock Holmes. If the man had not become a monk, he would’ve made a good detective. Theresa was a strong female character who, unlike her contemporary counterparts, stood up against male authority and could even read. But sometimes I questioned her actions. Still, she was certainly someone I would want on my side if I, too, was trying to reunite with my family and find my missing father. I really felt for her after all she went through in this story and hoped she would find her father and solve the mystery of the parchment he had been assigned to work on. At times, the whole part of the story where the secret document was more important than an innocent life was tiring, but I understood its importance and it made sense the villains in this story would even kill for it.

The Scribe was an intriguing, riveting novel that perfectly brought to life a period of history filled with scandal and treachery. I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to anyone interested in historical novels.

Book Blurb for The Scribe

The year is 799, and King Charlemagne awaits coronation as the Holy Roman emperor. But in the town of Würzburg, the young, willful Theresa dreams only of following in the footsteps of her scholarly father—a quiet man who taught her the forbidden pleasures of reading and writing. Though it was unthinkable for a medieval woman to pursue a career as a craftsperson, headstrong Theresa convinces the parchment-makers’ guild to test her. If she passes, it means access to her beloved manuscripts and nothing less than true independence. But as she treats the skins before an audience of jeering workmen, unimaginable tragedy strikes—tearing apart Theresa’s family and setting in motion a cascade of mysteries that Theresa must solve if she hopes to stay alive and save her family.

A fugitive in the wilderness, Theresa is forced to rely on her bravery, her uncommon education, and the compassion of strangers. When she encounters Alcuin of York, a wise and influential monk with close ties to Charlemagne, she believes her luck might have finally changed. But the biggest secret lies between Charlemagne and her father. Theresa moves ever closer to the truth, bent on reuniting with her beloved father, only to discover that her family’s troubles are inextricably entwined with nothing less than the fate of an empire.

Night Owl Reviews May, 2014 4.00