The School of Night

The School of Night

A Novel

Book - 2010
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An ancient mystery, a lost letter, and a timeless love unleash a long-buried web of intrigue that spans four centuries

In the late sixteenth century, five brilliant scholars gather under the cloak of darkness to discuss God, politics, astronomy, and the black arts. Known as the School of Night, they meet in secret to avoid the wrath of Queen Elizabeth. But one of the men, Thomas Harriot, has secrets of his own, secrets he shares with one person only: the servant woman he loves.

In modern-day Washington, D.C., disgraced Elizabethan scholar Henry Cavendish has been hired by the ruthless antiquities collector Bernard Styles to find a missing letter. The letter dates from the 1600s and was stolen by Henry's close friend, Alonzo Wax. Now Wax is dead and Styles wants the letter back.

But the letter is an object of interest to others, too. It may be the clue to a hidden treasure; it may contain the long-sought formula for alchemy; it most certainly will prove the existence of the group of men whom Shakespeare dubbed the School of Night but about whom little is known. Joining Henry in his search for the letter is Clarissa Dale, a mysterious woman who suffers from visions that only Henry can understand. In short order, Henry finds himself stumbling through a secretive world of ancient perils, caught up in a deadly plot, and ensnared in the tragic legacy of a forgotten genius.

Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Co., c2010.
ISBN: 9780805090697
Branch Call Number: FICTION BAY

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gusmcrae
May 19, 2015

Based on the title and cover, I first thought I might be diving into a horror novel. But instead I found a fun read, in the vein of "The Da Vinci Code," only much better written. This book's focus is on the mysterious goings on of The School of the Night--a group of Shakespeare's contemporaries who dared to meet and explore ideas that could (and would) make them outcasts in society. There's a potential hidden treasure and codes to be broken. And lots of twists and turns along the way. So, overall, it's a pretty hard book to set down. I especially like how the author moves the story back and forth in time, allowing readers to put the pieces of the puzzle together by witnessing the actual events that the novel's protagonists are discovering on this end of history. I will definitely look for more of Louis Bayard's work.

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susarrey
Nov 05, 2011

Not as good as Bayard's best, but not a bad book by any means. Got a little irritated by the romance novel-ish flavor of the male/female relationships.
The twist wasn't as well tailored as others of Bayard's either. Felt a bit like Bayard has gotten used to writing twisty endings and felt obligated to do so in this book too.

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giddyleu
Sep 29, 2011

I enjoyed reading this and joining in the adventure. Having just read Bill Bryson's "A short history of nearly everything", many of the historical figures in this were familiar to me. However, though my family comes to me as the family dictionary, I had to keep mine handy for the many words I was quite unfamiliar with!

debwalker Apr 11, 2011

"This swift, witty mystery moves between Tudor England and the present day as a group of bibliophile treasure-hunters sleuth out the lost discoveries of a secretive academy of Elizabethan intellectuals. Bayard is a master of historical texture and literary suspense!"--Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

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dorothykeller Apr 25, 2012

Bayard (The Black Tower) shifts smoothly between present-day America and Elizabethan England in this superb intellectual thriller. At the Washington, D.C., funeral of document collector Alonzo Wax, who committed suicide, Bernard Styles, an elderly Englishman and rival collector, approaches Henry Cavendish, an Elizabethan scholar and the executor of Wax's estate, whose academic reputation suffered grievous harm after he authenticated a new Walter Ralegh poem that was later exposed as a hoax. Styles offers Cavendish $100,000 to locate a prize Wax had borrowed, a recently discovered Ralegh letter that may prove the existence of the School of Night, a secret debating club whose members included playwright Christopher Marlowe. Murder complicates the search for the letter. The author's persuasive portrayal of undeservedly obscure real-life scientist Thomas Harriot, a member of the school, enhances a plot with intelligence and depth.
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