James Jauncey, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-233-98852-8
Set in the 14th century, this skilled first adult novel from Jauncey (The Albatross Conspiracy) brings the medieval world to life. A young peasant, Creb, makes a life-changing discovery when he finds a map in a cabin near his plague-isolated hamlet the day after his brother's death by drowning. That death, depicted in a lyrically written, though somber scene, is one of a series of cataclysmic events that throw Creb from his rural cottage into the greater world where he becomes fast friends with Roland, the educated, epileptic son of his lord's steward. When, later, the two must flee the village, the map, which Roland believes will lead to the legendary philosopher's stone, acts as their guide. They encounter Ellen, a beautiful Jewish woman bent on escaping her pimping uncle. She and Creb fall deeply in love, but, after Roland becomes ill and the two nurse him back to health, Creb finds Roland and Ellen in bed together and leaves, frantic with pain. Eventually, Creb reconciles with Roland, who's dying; he apprentices to a stonemason and eventually assumes an avocation as a mapmaker. When his path and Ellen's entwine again, he must prove his love and his heroism. Jauncey's language is precise and evocative, and his pacing, plotting and characterization are for the most part sound, the major exception being Roland's inexplicable betrayal of Creb with Ellen. But the touching story keeps one completely involved. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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