Sunday, May 13, 2007

Book Review: "Scholarium"

Translated from German, Claudia Gross' Scholarium (Toby Press, 2004) is a dark mystery set in the turbulent times of early fifteenth-century Cologne. As scholars debate complex philosophical matters, one of their own is found brutally murdered, and the killer - who seems also to hail from the educated community - has left a trail of troubling clues behind.

This book reminded me slightly of The Name of the Rose, and even in a good way. Deeply philosophical and suspenseful, it's an interesting examination of medieval education and scholarship - and the difficult conclusions that were being reached about how the world works. Gross also incorporates the important question of the role of women in academia during the period, as well as some bizarre heretical practices and an alchemical explosion or two.

Aside from a few inconsistencies and what may have been rough patches in the translation here and there, this book was a fascinating read.