From the bestselling author of A Ladder to the Sky—“a darkly funny novel that races like a beating heart” (People)—comes a new novel that plays out across all of human history: a story as precise as it is unlimited.
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 among 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 Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, an epic tale of humanity. The story of all of us, stretching across two millennia. Imaginative, unique, heartbreaking, this is John Boyne at his most creative and compelling.
Boyne (A Ladder to The Sky) traces a quest for revenge across centuries in this inventive, engrossing novel. Spanning from Palestine in 1 CE to outer space in 2080, the narrative advances through each chapter with the characters renamed and living in a different location and time. The unnamed narrator disappoints his warrior father by becoming an artisan, fashioning sandals in fifth-century Guatemala and amulets in seventh-century Greenland. He loses his first wife on their wedding day to a natural disaster. His second marriage ends in his wife's death when his cousin spitefully exposes her location to her own vengeful family after the narrator refuses to keep the cousin's lover on as an apprentice. Full of rage, the narrator feigns muteness and enters a monastery, helping to illuminate the Book of Kells. As he plots revenge against his cousin, he begins sleeping with an ambitious female ruler (alternately Lady Macbeth, a Dutch queen, and a Chinese empress, all of whom keep him in their clutches). He commits a terrible act to escape the empress, which primes him for further tragedies. The conceit of shifting settings (with cameos from Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Ned Kelly, and other famous figures) is handled seamlessly, and the action never ceases. Fans of imaginative historical fiction and tragic epics will enjoy this quirky, lyrical novel.