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The story of all of us, stretching across two millennia. Imaginative, unique, heart-breaking, this is John Boyne at his most creative and compelling.
Some stories are universal. Some are unique. They play out across human history, and time is the river that flows through them.
This story starts with a family. For now, it is a father and a mother with two sons. One with his father’s violence in his blood. One with his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will determine their fate. It is a beginning.
Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years. They will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium and journeying across fifty countries to a life amongst the stars in the third, the world will change around them, but their destinies remain the same. It must play out as foretold.
From the award-winning author of The Heart’s invisible Furies comes A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom an epic tale of humanity.
Author: John Boyne
Trade Paperback Published 21 July 2020 448 pages
Read and Reviewed by Graeme:
"John Boyne is one of the most versatile writers at work today - equally adept at novels pitched at adults and teens, and also across a variety of genres - historical fiction, very grim serious subject matter, humour, and even a crime novel worthy of Patricia Highsmith. So it’s not entirely surprising that this new novel is something very different again and perhaps his most ambitious work to date! It’s a time travelling saga that ranges from Palestine in AD1 to a colony in outer space in AD 2080. Each chapter skips ahead by roughly 50 years and is set in a different city around the world. The narrative is basically continuous and the main characters are largely the same, although their names change slightly in each chapter. Once you’ve grasped what Boyne is doing it’s very easy to follow. Boyne’s last few books have all had prominent LGBT storylines but here the main character is heterosexual, although an atypical one - he works as an artist and is not the warrior type his father would prefer. There are a number of secondary characters who are gay or lesbian, notably his disabled half-brother who he falls out with and seeks revenge upon. This quest for revenge drives a large section of the book, but there are numerous distractions as he tries to track him down. Along the way he encounters some famous figures from history including Macbeth and his wife, Michelangelo, Abel Tasman, Ned Kelly and several others. These cameos are diverting but it’s the fictional characters who excite the imagination more - from the malodorous wife of his brother to the elderly blind woman who pops up across the centuries, guiding him towards his destiny. The book reflects the times it depicts and is often very violent - decapitation or the fear of it occurs in almost every chapter! This is rich and imaginative storytelling that takes John Boyne’s skills as a historical novelist in a very dynamic and exciting direction."