A superbly written and intellectually stimulating novel. The Independent (London)
Since he was a young boy, John has studied at the Franciscan monastery outside Oxford, under the tutelage of friar and magus Roger Bacon, an inventor, scientist, and polymath. In 1267 Bacon arranges for his young pupil to embark on a journey of penitence to Italy. But the pilgrimage is a guise to deliver scientific instruments and Bacon s great opus to His Holiness, Pope Clement IV. Two companions will accompany John, both Franciscan novices: the handsome, sweet-tempered Brother Andrew; and the brutish Brother Bernard.
John the Pupil is a road movie, recounting the journey taken from Oxford to Viterbo by John and his two companions. Modeling themselves after Saint Francis, the men trek by foot through Europe, preaching the gospel and begging for sustenance. In addition to fighting off ambushes from thieves hungry for the thing of power they are carrying, the holy trio is tried and tempted by all sorts of sins: ambition, pride, lust and by the sheer hell and heaven of medieval life.
Astonishing. Booklist (starred review)
Strikingly original . . . a hugely enjoyable read. The Times (London)"