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Pulp Den: "fans of mystery lovers will find it a good read, as well as having a strong twist at the end."

Date: May 14 2015

"In the twelfth century AD, Venice is little more than an agglomeration of small islands snatched from the muddy tides. The magnificent city-lagoon of Venice, the rich and powerful Serene Republic, is yet to be born. Here, in this northern backwater, a group of artisans have proven themselves to be unrivalled in an art form that produces works of such astounding beauty that many consider it mystical in nature and think its practitioners possessed of otherworldly gifts: glassmaking. Presciently aware of the power they wield and the role they will play in the Venice of the future, the Venetian glassmakers inhabit a world of esoteric practices and secret knowledge that they protect at all costs.

Into this world steps Edgardo D’Arduino, a cleric and a professional copyist. Edgardo’s eyesight has begun to waver—a curse for a man who makes his living copying sacred texts. But he has heard stories, perhaps legends, that in Venice, city of glassmakers, there exists a stone, the “lapides ad legendum,” that can restore one’s sight. However, finding men who have knowledge of this wondrous stone proves almost impossible. After much searching, Edgardo meets a mysterious man who offers him a deal: he will lead him to the makers of the lapides ad legendum in exchange for Edgardo’s stealing a secret Arabic scientific text that is kept in the abbey where Edgardo lodges. When a series of horrific crimes shakes the cloistered world of the glassmakers, Edgardo realizes that there is much more at stake that his faltering eyesight."

Edgardo, a young cleric, deformed at birth, and now going blind seeks a miracle. A miracle to restore his eyesight in order to copy great manuscripts. It’s the early Twelfth Century, and the church refuses to accept anything new, believing it will not be from God. Yet there is a rumor that manuscripts exist in the archives of a church library that might hold the key to the discovery of sight once more. Edgardo travels to Venice where glassmakers seek great discoveries in their field of art also.

However, Edgardo discovers something else is going on when he arrives. Red-algae is filling the lagoon, and babies and animals are born deformed. To add to the mystery, someone is killing glassmaker apprentices, removing their eyes and replacing the eyes with colored glass marbles. And the cleric falls in love with a slave, which will lead him away from the church.

Although the story moves slow the reader is pulled into the deep mystery, and the characters keep you turning the pages. The historical aspect of early glass making is done in an interesting way, and not at all distracting from the flow of the story; in fact it is embedded into the mystery in a way that adds purpose to the over all story telling. This may not be for readers of fast action, but fans of mystery lovers will find it a good read, as well as having a strong twist at the end. I’m not sure how accurate the historical Venice is, but the mystery is certainly good. Highly recommended.

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