Read The Mercy Seller by Brenda Rickman Vantrease Online


In the fifteenth century, with religious intolerance spreading like wildfire across Europe, English-born Anna Bookman and her grandfather, Finn, earn a living in Prague by illuminating precious books, including forbidden translations of the Bible. Finn subscribes to the heresy that people ought to be able to read the Word of God for themselves, without having to pay a priIn the fifteenth century, with religious intolerance spreading like wildfire across Europe, English-born Anna Bookman and her grandfather, Finn, earn a living in Prague by illuminating precious books, including forbidden translations of the Bible. Finn subscribes to the heresy that people ought to be able to read the Word of God for themselves, without having to pay a priest for the privilege, but holding that belief is becoming more and more hazardous. When the authorities start burning books and slaughtering heretics---including the man Anna was to marry---Finn urges her to seek sanctuary in England, but her passage abroad will be anything but easy. In London, Friar Gabriel dutifully obeys church doctrine by granting pardons . . . for a small fee. But then he is sent undercover on a spying mission to France, where Anna has set up a temporary stall as a bookseller. Anna has no way of knowing that the wealthy young merchant frequenting her stall is actually a priest---just as Gabriel does not know he has met the woman who will cause him to doubt his vows.As Anna continues her journey to England, where the movement to stamp out heresy is growing ever fiercer, Brenda Rickman Vantrease brings us a richly imagined and immensely rewarding novel of love, faith, and dangerous secrets....

Title : The Mercy Seller
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312331931
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 419 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Mercy Seller Reviews

  • Linda
    2019-04-13 09:12

    Have you ever read a book and, when finished, you wanted to talk to SOMEONE about that book? Here is such a book. The story of Anna and Gabriel and the 1300's Catholic church's struggles with "heretics" is an amazing read. I recommend it for book clubs; we had a marvelous discussion that ranged across a huge expanse of history, religion, psychology and how these events are continuing to play out in our world today. We agreed that we would have like to know more about Gabriel's thought process, we wanted to know more about the history of that time period --- and we will probably put Vantrease's first book, The Illuminator, on our list for next year (not a common occurrence for our group).

  • Sophie
    2019-03-24 13:05

    Unfortunately, far into this novel I realized it was a sequel to a book I'd been eyeing for a while, The Illuminator. I still enjoyed this book without having any idea of its prequel's plot It stand well on its own. This story focuses on the red haired Anna, (the next gen from the 1st book) a Lollard trying to make her way to England, seeking refuge from religious prosecution. We get an omnipresent view of other characters, but I was relieved that the strong willed and intelligent heroine didn't take everything over. While I like such a heroine, I've read 3 books in a row now with the same archetype; a change is nice. Gabriel, who is the subject of the witty title, I enjoyed more. His outdated thinking (for modern / intelligent readers) reflects his time, and his struggle to reconcile the good of his heart with the unease he has with his actions is very gratifying. Caught between loyalties, rights & wrongs, is hard for anybody, but so much more in those days when everything was so extreme. Vantrease certainly makes the in between points of history entertaining. The story focuses on the brave who fight for what they believe is a change for the better and the strong who wish to keep the status quo, then the people in the middle, like Gabriel, who struggle to find a place to fit in once the line of right and wrong are torn down and are up for reinterpretation. Then we have Henry V, who I was really sorry wasn't more apart of the story. His coping with the change of their time was interesting since he had so much less choice than all the others, despite all that he is a king. Last was Sir John, who was more showcased than analyzed as the others were. He was so distinct and constant that the whole book might have been a "glory hallelujah" to his Martyrdom. He felt the most real as a character but the least real as a flawed HUMAN; He is a hero from a fairytale, a shining ideal that you'll rarely, if ever, find in real life. The plot is not straight forward, there are conflicts everywhere and there's no real 'Main' conflict to resolve. It might have been Anna & Gabriel's relationship, there so many open threads as though the story could go on forever, but if the point was to elucidate the chaos and unsettlement of the time then Vantreage did so. For me, this is a story about where to find "mercy" and "grace" in your own personal revolution, when your world is falling apart and you have to not only survive the change but come out of it better in mind, body, and spirit.

  • Kristen
    2019-04-15 09:27

    As it turns out, this book is actually a sequel to The Illuminator. So if you liked The Illuminator, you'll probably enjoy this book at least as much if not more.The book itself was probably not something I would have picked up on my own -- my mom was redistributing books read by herself and her sisters at Thanksgiving -- but it was interesting and entertaining enough to keep me hooked until the end. I was expecting it to be a thinly veiled "historical" romance, but it went beyond that. The romance itself was honestly not as fully fleshed out as I would have liked (and no, I don't mean there wasn't enough explicit sex!). By the end, it felt like a bit of an afterthought -- not forced, just not as well-executed as it could have been. The historical, religious/state conflict between the Lollards, the Catholic church, and the English monarch was much more central to the story, and it was clear whose side the author was on from the beginning.Overall, it was a decent read, but probably not one I'll come back to.

  • Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin*
    2019-04-02 10:31

    While I thought the historical detail in this book was very thorough and interesting, the book overall didn't speak to me. The love story, which was the reason I picked this book up in the first place, was very placid, trite, unimaginative, and unengaging. The main plot was the illegal copying of certain texts, which might have been more interesting in a different format, but here it overshadowed the main characters. The secondary characters also overshadowed the main ones, being better developed and easier to relate to. I thought this book was very dry overall.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-21 12:04

    “Jan Hus chose an open window in the left tower of Tyn Church from which to watch the burning. This church gave him courage. It was a Hussite church, a Czech church, not built with Roman funds but built by and for the people of Bohemia. Yet even here in this sacred place, he could not stop the grinding in his gut was he watched the scene unfold below. This burning in the town square was Archbishop’s Zynbek’s declaration of war.”The Mercy Seller is Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s sequel to her excellent first novel, The Illuminator. Set in Prague and England during the fifteenth century, we follow the story of a young girl who was raised by her grandfather Finn, the illuminator from the previous book. Finn and his group of friends are sympathetic to the Lollard cause, an anti-catholic collection of persons who yearn for religious freedom. As the story opens, Anna’s boyfriend is executed for heresy. The aged Finn dies soon thereafter and the authorities are clamping down on persons who own and distribute bibles translated from the Latin text. Anna must flee.Anna’s journey takes her to France, where she falls in love with a man who seduces her and leaves her pregnant. It turns out that man is a priest, ordered by his church to seek out heresy.Vantrease writes an exciting novel, but I had several problems with it. Being a Catholic who has studied much about the theology behind my faith, I found the character of Father Gabriel to be lacking. If he was so learned, how come he could not counter Anna’s arguments against his Church. Certainly, many were grounded. But corruption within the Catholic Church did not automatically nullify the theological principles of the faith itself. The author tried to portray Father Gabriel as a good guy, but he obviously wasn’t very faithfilled. From first seeking to to relieve his sexual desires, to easily leaving his Church later – it all seemed unrealistic and neatly wrapped up.I also did not like the character of Anna. At first she seemed to act her age and was less outspoken. Later on, however, she becomes a reckless, outspoken fool. I am amazed that she and Gabriel could speak to each other at all, much less agree to marry.While Vantrease uses some real history and characters in the book, I questioned some of the Lollard beliefs in the book. I’m no expert on Lollard history, but it seems a bit out there. I’ll have to do some fact checking to see if the author did indeed do her homework.

  • Dawn Kunda
    2019-04-01 05:26

    In the fifteenth century Europe, freedoms were not as liberal as in many countries today. Heresy was high on England’s King’s list to be done away with.Do not believe what the King considers wrong, do not write the Bible in any language other than Latin, and do not counter the word of the Church. Anna Bookman writes in multiple languages and can’t ignore what the English translation of the Bible tells her. Her manuscripts will hang her if found out. She lives in Prague with her grandfather until he dies, and then she is directed to find help in England. At the same time, a priest, Brother Gabriel, encounters her under a tip of heresy. He disguises his identity and against church rules, has incredibly lustful feelings for the maiden. Both hidden behind false agendas, their paths take many wrong turns. Danger and enemies multiply for each until they are forced together and their true works and goals revealed.The historical detail of the fifteenth century and the range of characters give a heart-pounding and fearsome reality to the challenges Anna and Gabriel must overcome in order to be true to themselves.

  • Mila
    2019-04-10 05:20

    It was fun to walk the streets of Prague in 1410 which Vantrease brought to life. I enjoyed reading about Jan Hus who was alive a century before Martin Luther, but not as famous for some reason. There was just enough (but not too much) religious history, where for example, I learned that Hus preached in the newly built Bethlehem Chapel in Czech (not Latin) and that he was influenced by the writings of the Englishman John Wycliffe. I was introduced to another definition of the word: indulgence. I was totally engrossed in the lives of the fictional characters and fascinated in the skillful way Vantrease intertwined them.

  • Brooke
    2019-03-22 13:09

    Not as good as "The Illuminator"; slower-moving and even more contrived and tidied up than the first book. Nevertheless, still an enjoyable read.

  • Soozblooz
    2019-03-27 09:19

    I finished The Illuminator and borrowed the two sequels from the library with great anticipation. The Mercy Seller had too many contrivances (if it's not a dwarf, it's a gyspy, evidently) and for some reason, I keep feeling as if Ms. Vantrease's research is very limited in scope. What I learned about the Lollards in the first book is exactly what I learned in the second. Unfortunately, the third (The Heretic's Wife) is no better. I read 50 pages and realized it was going to be a re-tread.

  • Kristen
    2019-04-21 11:28

    This is exactly what historical fiction should be!Prague - 1410: Jan Hus battles against the corrupt and greedy Catholic Church by carrying on the work of John Wycliffe, the first to translate the Bible into English so that the people could read God's word for themselves and see that the Church's lies, such as the peddling of indulgences, were not found anywhere in the holy book. Two years later, after Hus had been burned at the stake, others continue to produce and distribute copies of the banned English bible to allow the faithful to learn from God's word directly. Finn the Illuminator and his granddaughter Anna are two of those continuing the work of Hus. But they must take care because the Church becomes increasingly determined to hunt down and destroy what they see as heresy. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the movement to stamp out the heretics, and he assigns Indulgence Seller Brother Gabriel the task of spying on a suspected heretic, Sir John Oldcastle by inserting himself into an abbey of nuns, also suspected of copying the banned English bibles at Sir John's behest.The book follows the parallel paths of Anna, Brother Gabriel and Sir John as they all march inevitably toward a collision that you just know will leave no one unscathed.The author Brenda Rickman Vantrease is masterful in how she builds and unfolds the individual stories of the three main characters, while simultaneously and subtly connecting them in what feels almost like you are watching an aerial view of Anna, Brother Gabriel and Sir John moving inexorably toward the point where their stories will intertwine. She also mercilessly builds the suspense by offering small pieces of information that make it clear the eventual collision could be explosive.The charaters are wonderfully developed, with nobody being completely "good" or "evil" [except perhaps the Archbishop in whom I found no redeeming qualities whatsoever] and all making both good and not so good choices as the plot progresses. The excellent characterizations really make you connect to these people and become anxious about how their lives will ultimately turn out.Anna, Gabriel and Sir John all have their own personal stories, in addition to the parts they play in the main plot - the heresy of translating the Bible into English - and the author develops these stories in as much detail as the main one which makes the book four stories for the price of oneThere are also a number of supporting characters, just as well written, who add extra variety and flavour to the story by interacting with the main characters in various ways that helps develop them and the choices they eventually make.I really enjoyed this story, and highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction - particularly if you enjoy stories about the reformation period or the Catholic Church's corruption.A definite winner!

  • Linda
    2019-03-29 10:27

    The 15th century was a time of religious conflict throughout Europe, with the Church holding out against, then persecuting, the followers of John Wycliffe. It's hard to imagine today the turmoil that surrounded the emerging belief that Christian scripture should be translated into the vernacular, but the Church feared that allowing the laity to read and interpret the Bible would free them from their devotion to the (increasingly corrupt) clergy. Within this maelstrom, author Vantrease continues the story she began with The Illuminator, now focusing upon the next generation. Anna Bookman has been raised by her grandfather (the "Illuminator" from the first book)in Prague, where he provided her with loving care, an upbringing as a "heretic", and training in the profession of scribe and translator. When he dies, Anna's life is in danger from the Church, and she is forced to flee in the company of a band of Gypsies. While living with them, Anna grows fond of a crippled child named Bek, and when she parts from the band to travel to England, her grandfather's homeland, she takes him with her. Brother Gabriel, the book's "mercy seller", fervently believes in the stance of the Church, and one of his jobs is to sell indulgences at pilgrimage sites. When assigned to spy for heretical evidence against Sir John Oldham, Gabriel is uncomfortable, but decides he must do his duty. The relationship between Anna and Gabriel develops over the course of the narrative, and while she is grateful for the assistance he gives her, she is crushed when he fails to keep his promise to rejoin her and Bek. When they meet again in England, their initially loving bond is stressed beyond measure. Sir John, and old friend of her grandfather, has taken her in, while Gabriel is set to betray him.The Mercy Seller is packed with historical detail, not all of which is accurate (women of that era did not wear garments called blouses, for instance), but for the most part, provides a vivid picture of the times and places. The best parts of the novel deal with the active pursuits of the various characters; when Vantrease writes of Gabriel and Anna's emotional alliance, her prose becomes histrionic. I also wondered why she seems to need to insert some sort of dependent, handicapped figure in her books. Bek was interesting, but added only minimally to the storyline. Characters from The Illuminator do figure in its sequel, but it is not necessary to have read the first before the second; any unanswered questions about what came before are clarified in the closing chapters. Recommended to readers with an interest in medieval life, religion, society, and customs.

  • Steve
    2019-03-24 05:28

    THE MERCY SELLER is not a direct sequel to the 2005 bestseller THE ILLUMINATOR. Although characters reappear here, THE MERCY SELLER serves as a great stand-alone novel that can --- and should --- be picked up immediately.Religious intolerance dominates 15th-century Europe in the opening of THE MERCY SELLER, where the story kicks off with the burning of religious texts. Finn, one of the main characters from THE ILLUMINATOR, is still doing his work with the help of his granddaughter, Anna. Finn is older and reveals his dying wish to Anna, who heads to England and seeks out Sir John Oldcastle. During a stop in France, Anna is met by a man named Van Cleve, a cloth merchant who buys the illegal texts from her. She falls in love with him, but soon the truth of his identity will come to the fore.Van Cleve is in fact Gabriel, a young priest who sells pardons and has been pressed into service by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is sent to France to begin the investigation of a heretical conspiracy against the Church. Gabriel, though, is beginning to find it difficult to uphold his vow to the Church as he and Anna grow closer and as the world becomes a firestorm around them. Love and treachery exist at every turn, but THE MERCY SELLER also holds a search for redemption, and these intertwined strands form the bones of a great body of work.Vantrease has crafted an intelligent and beautiful book. The historical elements of the novel are rich, strong and instantly compelling. The use of true-life historical individuals only makes the story more intriguing and, in some instances, even more tragic. Anna and Gabriel are incredibly true characters --- imperfect people who possess tremendous flaws and must struggle both personally and professionally in order to just stay alive. This is an extremely brutal and conspiratorial time, where you have no choice but to trust people and yet know that anyone could be a spy.Prague, France and England come alive on the page, and with Vantrease's writing you can almost feel the coolness of stone as you walk the castle corridors or make your way through the abbeys. Sir John Oldcastle is an incredible character, and as with all the other true-life representations, his actions within the story offer enough interest to perhaps make you want to do more research yourself and discover his effects on his time.THE MERCY SELLER is a feast for the soul and for the heart. Vantrease opens up and displays a great passion for the time period she is writing about, and that passion is infectious. Once you crack open the cover and begin to settle in, you are transported to 1410 and become a witness to history in the most fascinating way.

  • Rosina Lippi
    2019-04-02 08:04

    In this complex but compelling sequel to Vantrease's first novel (The Illuminator), the primary character is Friar Gregory, a young Catholic priest whose work is to sell indulgences, or forgiveness for sins, and to send the monies he collects to Rome. But Gregory has a conscience, and his training can't override misgivings when he is dispatched by an ambitious and less than scrupulous Archbishop Arundel to spy on Sir John Oldcastle, a nobleman suspected of heresy. Arundel wants to make an example out of Oldcastle by exposing him as a Lollard (a follower of Wycliffe, who translated the scriptures into the vernacular languages of Europe, to the horror of the church of Rome) and sending him to the stake. Friar Gregory finds himself installed at a convent looking for evidence that the nuns in the scriptorium are copying the forbidden translations for Oldcastle. A parallel story is unfolding in Prag, where the illuminator of Vantrease's first novel -- someone with connections to the convent where Gregory has been installed -- is now an old man with an adult granddaughter he has trained as a copyist in the Lollard tradition. As persecution of the Lollards intensifies he arranges for Anna to leave Bohemia for England and Oldcastle's protection. Anna and Gregory's paths finally cross in France, where the friar has come to collect more evidence, but soon finds his vows at the breaking point, with repercussions that propel the rest of the story. This is a carefully researched historical, but the need to establish so many characters and the social and religious complexities of the time and place overwhelms the first half of the novel. It is not until that point that Gregory, Anna and a handful of other crucial characters are really free to interact. Vantrease tells an engaging story and she paints a vivid picture of 14th century Europe. What she doesn't quite manage to do is to achieve a balance between the two.first written for pw 2006

  • Libzie
    2019-04-04 12:23

    I was given this book by a friend who hadn't read it yet and it didn't look super interesting, but since I don't have a good library nearby, I decided to read it. I read the first 200 pages from 9:00 till 12:15 at night, which is way past my bedtime. Not because I couldn't put it down, but because I simply wasn't tired. I was wary from the beginning when she was awkwardly telling her almost-fiancé her life story, like, you would think if they had been friends for so long the fact that she was an orphan would have come up at some point, or really if they had known eachother at all he would know she was an orphan. That was just the first chapter.Other than inconsistencies in the writing I enjoyed the book up till the middle. I felt that when Jetta was killed off she served no purpose in the story except to give Bek to Anna, and that could have been done in a less dramatic way. I kept expecting Gabriel to drive the demons out of her or something. I also liked Gabriel up until the middle because it seemed like he just fell to his greatest weakness and you don't really see him feeling defeated, I expected more character development. Like I said, I have only read the first half of the book, so... I didn't really like Anna at all, there was no real connection, and if I can't connect with the characters, there is no way I will like the story. I don't know if I would have liked it better if I had read the first book, maybe

  • C.W.
    2019-04-12 10:05

    Set several years after the heartbreaking end of THE ILLUMINATOR, Brenda Rickman Vantrease's THE MERCY SELLER continues the tale of Anna, grand-daughter of Finn and Kathryn, and of a new character, Brother Gabriel, a conflicted Dominican who sells indulgences but is secretly at odds with his own faith and the mysteries of his past. Hand-chosen by virulent Bishop Arundel to investigate the importation of Lollard heresies by a respected nobleman, whom the aged Arundel is determined to destroy, Gabriel finds himself assuming a new persona and traveling to the Continent, where a chance encounter with a beautiful bookseller alters his fate forever.Few writers working today have Ms Vantrease's sensitive ability to penetrate the spiritual differences that plagued medieval Europe and gave rise to the Reformation, while remaining true to the emotional plight of her characters. While Anna and Gabriel's religious differences - and the tumult that ensues between them - are at the forefront of this elegant, jewel-like novel, this is also the tale of man's ceaseless quest for meaning in an often senseless world. Though not as ambitious in execution as its predecessor, THE MERCY SELLER remains a gorgeously wrought evocation of an era on the cusp of change, and a love story of two disparate people struggling to reconcile the passions of their hearts that you will remember long after you finish the last page.

  • Lynda
    2019-03-28 12:30

    What a thought provoking addition the Mercy Seller by Brenda Rickman Vantrease has turned out to be. I first read "The Heretic's Wife" when I picked it up at the Dollar Store! What a find! The Mercy Seller is the third book in the series that begins with The Illuminator. The in-depth historical research is evident throughout the series. Rickman Vantrease also includes a great deal of background at the end of the book to fill in the gaps that often occur in a novel. This book continues with the lives of Finn, the illuminator of religious materials and secular books; his granddaughter Anna: Kathryn, Finn's former love and grandmother of Anna; and Gabriel, a young Dominican friar who begins to question his faith, office, and tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. The reader sees the price that is paid by the scribes and those involved in providing the Holy Scriptures in the English language. The fact that the Catholic faith, church, and clerics had so much political power and sway over the monarchy is unfathomable. This is not a religious book per say, but it is a book about individuals and their personal faith and beliefs. Heresy is defined and presented. Being found with a copy of the English translation of the Bible could very well send someone to the stake. The price, that was paid by so many to provide the Holy Scriptures in a language the laity could read, should cause us to not grow lax in our reading of it or to take it for granted.

  • Annette
    2019-04-06 08:29

    Set in the 15th century. This book follows the story of Anna and her grandfather, Finn, from book I, The Illuminator. Finn flees England with baby Anna due to prosecutions against the Lollards – followers of John Wycliffe, who turned against the Church because of its abuses. Finn settles in Prague, where he “starts Prague’s secret enterprise to disseminate the banned translations.” When Prague becomes a dangerous place for Lollards, Finn asks Anna to go back to England to seek protection under Lord Cobham. Anna on her way to England, while stopping in France, sets a temporary stall where she sells Pilgrim’s Guide, which she copies at night to make money for her trip.Across the channel in England, Friar Gabriel is asked to spy on the nobility, who has become a Lollard, namely Lord Cobham. He further is sent to France to investigate the source of forbidden Bible spread by Lollards. In Rheims, his eye catches a red hair young lady, who sells books at a stall. As Anna later finds out England is even more dangerous for Lollards than Prague. “His Excellency says they’ll probably have to build a tower at Lambeth to house all the Lollards he’s planning to catch in his net.”As book I, the pages of book II are filled with deep thoughts and rich historical details making this book very engaging and a fascinating read.@Facebook: Best Historical Fiction

  • Deb
    2019-04-17 07:25

    Anna grew up as the granddaughter of an illuminator in Prague--an illuminator who practices the dangerous act of copying the Bible into English. Anna is devestated when a wave of persecution breaks out against those who dare to oppose the church in this way, and several of her friends--including the man she was to marry--are killed. Fleeing Prague, Anna has many adventures on her way to England, where she believes she will find safety with Sir John Oldcastle. But church officials suspect Oldcastle of being in league with the heresy, and they send a priest named Gabriel to collect evidence against him.[return]I enjoyed this look at an intriguing time in history, when people were persecuted for practices that seem so innocent today. The characters seemed real, though the circumstances they encounter sometimes have a hint of the miraculous to them. I loved the suspense that arose not only from the persecution but also the complex relationships. Those with an interest in religious history will especially enjoy this one.

  • Brigitte
    2019-03-23 09:27

    In spite of the sometimes treacly romance in the first book in this series, I was intrigued enough by the characters and the historical setting to give the sequel a chance. Unfortunately, I'm left having a very similar reaction as I did to the first installment; Vantrease did not ease up on the schlock. What could have been interesting commentary on political and religious events in both England and Prague in the early Renaissance (again!) felt sidelined by the overwrought lovers. Vantrease obviously knows her European history but has difficulty weaving that knowledge in with subtlety. Rather, I felt I was reading two stories: one a historical fiction, the other a romance for the more general reader. I wish Vantrease could trust readers to be interested in her stories without having to resort to tired romantic dramas. Also: Where was the dwarf from the fens?! Oh god, the magical 'gypsy' trope. Phew, a happy ending.

  • Stacey
    2019-04-12 11:10

    I really enjoyed reading this book, and found it fascinating. It is about a woman living in Prague with her grandfather who make their living by illuminating books, including forbidden translations of the Bible. I found it an amazing concept that by owning a copy of the Bible translated to english, one could end up imprisoned. The woman ends up leaving Prague, and sets up stall selling books in France. She then meets a Dominican Friar who is disguised as a merchant. Their relationship begins, and I found the dialogue between the woman and the Friar extremely fascinating. Her version of the scriptures versus his version. I love a great romance, and this one delivers. I could hardly put this book down. After getting about 2/3 of the way through, I discovered that this book is actually a sequel to a book called "The Illuminator". I will definitely be looking for that book!

  • Shannon
    2019-03-31 06:16

    It's been a while since I read a good historical fiction book and I really enjoyed this one. It's set in Prague & England in the 1400s, right after Wycliffe translated the Bible into everyday English. Boy, was the Catholic Church upset about THAT! This is also during the Papal schism, when there where three popes - two Italian, one French, for those of you keeping count.Two of the main characters are a scribe who copies the Bible into Czech from Wycliffe's English translation and a Dominican monk who sells indulgences for the church. It's interesting to see the characters' different beliefs and how that is played out in their lives.The plot was a bit predictable at times, but the characters were well-written and believable. This author (who coincidentally lives in Nashville) also wrote The Illuminator, which I haven't read, but will be looking into.

  • Christine Van Heertum
    2019-03-30 11:09

    Prague, 1410. La jeune Anna vit avec son grand-père dont elle a hérité le talent de copiste. Mais en cette époque où l'on est très vite qualifié d'hérétique, il ne fait pas bon copier n'importe quel écrit. Contrainte de fuir son pays, la jeune Anne tente de rejoindre l'Angleterre. Faisant halte à Reims, elle rencontre Van Clève, un jeune marchand dont elle s'éprend très vite. Mais chacun est-il ce qu'il prétend être ? Entre conviction religieuse et sentiments amoureux, les jeunes gens auront un long et périlleux chemin à parcourir.Un roman historique très épaix (659 pages), qui se lit facilement et nous plonge dans une époque trouble, mais le récit manque de conviction et traite le sujet de façon trop légère à mon goût, comme s'il s'agissait d'une simple aventure.

  • Betty Strohecker
    2019-04-17 08:07

    This follow up to The Illuminator takes place in England and Prague in the early 15th century and continues the story of rampant religious intolerance across Europe and those brave enough to stand up for religious freedom. Anna Bookman works in Prague with her grandfather Finn illustrating books, many of them illegal. Friar Gabriel is sent from England as a spy to uncover those engaged in this illegal practice. Again Vantrease tells the story about love, courage, danger, and treachery amid ordinary people willing to risk everything for their beliefs. This story is engaging and suspenseful, all the more so as it is hard for those of us living in free countries today to understand that buying, selling, and reading books could cause one's death.

  • Margarita
    2019-03-31 11:33

    I think I would agree with some of the other reviewers - it may not be as good as the Illuminatorin some respects, but nevertheless a good sequel of historical fiction. One does appreciate another chance to come in contact with the characters of the Illuminator and trace them for a whole new generation. The emotions and thoughts of the main protagonists are almost entirely modern, it is easy to continue their train of thought and attitude to our times in terms of religion, difference of any sort, disability, ingorance, independence, propaganda and mind control and on the other hand, humility and dedication.

  • Melinda
    2019-04-18 05:33

    really 2.5 stars, is the better rating, but that isn't an option. This is a pretty good read in the genre of "historical fiction" -- good capture of period, characters were well developed, but very predictable the entire time (even without knowing the "history" behind it)... hence the 2 rather than the 3 -- but it could go either way. I also thought the character of Kathryn and the relationship with Anna was rushed, but admit that I haven't read her first book, The Illuminator, which I understand goes into the development of the character of Kathryn in more depth. All in all, I would recommend this book for airplane/train/tram reading.

  • Mirah W
    2019-04-14 11:08

    I thought this was a worthy sequel to 'The Illuminator'. I was glad the author didn't have lengthy narratives going over what happened in the previous was divulged as Anna learned more about her past and her family. There were some details I had forgotten from 'The Illuminator' and I liked having them revealed as Anna learned about them. The reason I gave this one 4 stars instead of 5 is that I didn't feel the same connection to Anna and Gabriel as I did with Kathryn and Finn in the first book. Overall it was well-written and a great story about life in a tumultuous time but the characters didn't reach me the way I had hoped they would.

  • Darci
    2019-04-03 12:14

    I am so excited to find another GREAT historical fiction writer! I was tempted to just not read this book at all, because it's set in the 15th century, which seems like a particularly awful time to be alive. The Catholic church ruled the world, and ruled the rulers, and were ruthless. The story that Vantrease tells is gripping, full of so many emotions and so easy and fun to read. Apparently this is a sequel to her first book, The Illuminator, but I began reading it before I knew/realized that and it made no difference. I really could not put this one down. Phillipa Gregory lovers of the world, rejoice, because you have a new author you will LOVE. Can't wait to read more.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-22 10:33

    In some ways I actually liked this book better than its precursor. It was more . . . grounded? While The Illuminator is a story about (among other characters) someone whose vocation it is it to create brilliant illustrations, the protagonists of this book are people of the word . . . translators, scribes, and others. Though the scope of The Mercy Seller is actually larger than its precursor -- spanning various countries and a wider variety of communities, with a historical context of much greater import. (Bonus: I got to learn about the Sir John whom Shakespeare rewrote into Falstaff.)

  • Tiana
    2019-04-13 09:32

    After reading a good portion of this book, I realized it was the sequel to The Illuminator, which I haven't read. But I was still able to follow the plot well and I enjoyed it. Mostly, I found the history really interesting. This is a period of time that I'm not very familiar with, so it was fascinating to learn more about the sacrifices people went through to translate the Bible. The best thing I took away from this book was a profound thankfulness for the freedom I have to read the Bible on my own. I liked it well enough that I'd be interested to read The Illuminator.

  • Wendy
    2019-04-17 10:12

    This is the sequel to the Illuminator. I loved it. They both deal with medieval England and the struggle many went through to translate and distribute the Bible into English and fight the corruptions of the mighty Catholic church. It well shows how powerfully political the Church was and gives a good background to the Reformation. It follows the story of Gabriel, a friar and pardoner (one who sells indulgences, or "forgiveness") who has been asked to spy on a suspected Lord with sympathies to the new movement for an English bible.