As tensions flare between the wealthy archbishop and the reform-minded pope, and as local guilds rise in power, Gutenberg establishes a secret workshop where he, Peter, and Fust, his financial backer, become an unstoppable trio. Readers are offered a captivating view of early printing techniques and the obstacles encountered over the several years in which each successive line of the Bible is inked onto vellum and paper.
An inspiring tale of ambition, camaraderie, betrayal, and cultural transformation based on actual events and people, this wonderful novel fully inhabits its age.
I wrote this starred review for Booklist's August issue, based on an e-galley available from Edelweiss, which goes to show that the power of the written word remains constant despite the continuing evolution of technology. I've since received a hardcover copy in the mail, and it's a beautiful physical specimen, too.
Gutenberg's Apprentice is published today by Harper (hardcover, $27.99, 416pp) and in the UK by Headline (£13.99). You can also watch a video in which the author describes why she calls the development of the Gutenberg Bible "the world's first tech start-up."