A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom: A Novel by John Boyne
English | 2020| Fantasy | ePUB | 8.7 MB
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.
Marinus’s first marriage took place when he was only twelve years old, a forced contract with his cousin Iunia, the ritual taking place in a stone temple in the town of Za’tara, where they were both born. The marriage was not a success. His father and uncle, greedy men with cruel dispositions, spent their lives slipping between periods of hostility and camaraderie and their children paid the price for their inconstancy. The couple being so young, it was said that all four parents stood on either side of the wedding bed on the night of the ceremony, issuing crude instructions to their naked, frightened offspring on how to achieve consummation, and when Iunia fainted in distress and Marinus burst into tears, they were soundly beaten and informed that they would not be permitted to leave the marriage chamber until the act had been completed to everyone’s satisfaction.
Iunia died less than a year later, giving birth to a son, my brother Junius, her fragile young body so ill prepared for motherhood that it was torn apart by the trauma of childbirth. Although saddened, my father must have grown accustomed to the pleasures of matrimony, for he took a second wife almost immediately, a servant girl named Livia, who gave him a half-dozen more children, most of whom survived only a few months at most, before she was caught in a rainstorm, succumbed to a fever and died of it within a week. And then there was a third wife, Capella, who tumbled into a well while under the influence of wine and was discovered months later, her body already in an advanced state of decomposition. And a fourth, Reza, who was found hanging from a rope, a victim of her own malaise.
Marinus had been fond of his wives and was, by all accounts, a more considerate husband than many in Bethlehem, never raising a hand to any of them in anger, but he had never truly loved them. That emotion was reserved until shortly after his twenty-second birthday, when he laid eyes on my mother for the first time. And although he would not remain faithful to her, monogamy being an unnatural concept to him, I believe that he felt a deeper emotion toward his fifth wife than he had toward any of her predecessors.