Reviewed by Patricia Kooyman
It is a tale well-told from the perspective of the person who did most of the work (unbeknownst to most people today): Peter Schoeffer, Gutenberg’s Apprentice. There is some detailed information on how they experimented with different (ratios of) metals to prepare alloys that would last throughout the printing of a book. It explains how to make the letters, how to set the type and how to print. The author, Alix Christie, is a printer herself and her love for the process shows. Then there is insight into the contemporary manuscript market and how the political turmoil of the time affected merchants and ordinary people alike.
But it is also the coming of age of Peter, and the conflict he finds himself wrapped up in. The brilliant but stubborn and not always honest Gutenberg demands his unconditional loyalty, but he also feels loyal towards his foster father Johann Fust, who is Gutenberg’s main financier. And then there is his inner turmoil, originally being trained as a scribe and now working on the ‘darkest art’ of printing – some say this ‘art’ is an invention of the Devil to desecrate holy scripture as copied manually.
Of course a love story is also thrown in for good measure, but it is not the main plot of the story. And that is not a complaint.
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