Book Review: The Astronomer by Lawrence Goldstone

The Astronomer by Lawrence Goldstone

1534, Paris. A student at the Catholic Collège de Montaigu, serving as a courier for the Inquisition, is murdered by members of an extreme Lutheran sect for the packet of letters he is carrying. His friend and fellow classmate Amaury de Faverges - the illegitimate son of the Duke of Savoy and an expert in astronomy and natural science - is recruited as his replacement and promised a decree of legitimacy if he can uncover the secret that threatens to overturn Catholicism and the reign of François I. Working undercover, Amaury journeys south to the liberal court of the king's sister, Marguerite of Navarre, the alleged heart of the conspiracy. The deeper he probes, the more Amaury is forced to confront his own religious doubts; and when he discovers a copy of Copernicus's shocking manuscript showing the sun at the center of the universe, he knows the path he must follow.

I'm not sure if you can see it, but on the cover there is a subscript that reads "A Novel of Suspense". Well, I am not sure what that means to this author, but for me I expect to be on the edge of my seat, desperate to know what happens next, not able to put the book down. Well... that was sooooo not the case with this book. The first half was a big snooze-fest for me. I literally had to force myself to read it. If my mother-in-law didn't have the book I actually wanted to read, I do not think I could have choked this down.
It wasn't until Chapter 16 that I felt mildly interested in the plot. That says a lot for a book that basically starts off with a murder in the night over secret manuscripts!  I mean, come on, even that sentence screams suspense!
The main character, Amaury was a tid bit boring and not all that likable and through most of the book is wishy-washy and indecisive. (I feel like this is a trend with the recent books I have read) The man who is murdered in the beginning is a dear friend of Amaury's and apparently got himself mixed up in some religious conspiracy. For much of the first half of the book I thought that Amuary had been the other guy's lover with the way he talked about him. I mean, I know it was the 1400's, but still he spoke very passionately about his fallen friend, even going as far to say that they mirrored one another souls. (Apparently, I was wrong - he hooks up with a few women throughout the book and eventually the love of his life... I hope her soul mirrors his too)
Amaury decides to take up the post that his friend had been murdered over. This was to be a double agent of sorts for the Inquisition. He is to spy on and infiltrate a group of Lutheran radicals. Much of the book is wasted on the debate of Lutheran vs. Catholicism. They are even some grizzly execution scenes of heretics! (People get burned at the stake and it is a fairly gross description) Amaury loves science and is a faithful little Catholic, which is un-heard of at this time. In the midst of his spying, he comes across a manuscript from Copernicus (who is a grumpy old man when we meet him) scientifically proving that the Earth revolves around the sun. Now, all of this heliocentric science is causing an uproar of epic proportions and the Catholics are saying that Lutherans are trying to disprove Genesis 1:1 due to the order in which God creates the Earth and the Sun.
That is basically the gist of it. There is some murdering, pillaging, traveling, torture in a dungeon and some true love all thrown in. Amaury finally makes a choice on what he wants to support (Science of course) and runs off to save Copernicus from being murdered by Catholic assassins. Like I said, it took me 16 Chapters to become interested, and that's probably just because I am too stubborn to stop reading a book. I was OK with the way it ended, nothing hanging and no main characters knocked off in the last pages... but it still left something to be desired.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 A little better than just OK, but not Great.
( I am still looking for a good Book Worm pic, and since my rating today includes a half I didn't want to put up a pic of the Worms... half of one just wouldn't be right. lol)


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