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Sixteenth century Europe is teeming with change and controversy: wars are being waged by princes and bishops and the repercussions of Luther are being felt through a convulsing Germany. In a remote corner of Poland a modest canon is practicing medicine and studying the heavens, preparing a theory that will shatter the medieval view of the universe. In this astonishing work of historical imagination, John Banville offers a vivid portrait of a man of painful reticence, haunted by a malevolent brother and baffled by the conspiracies that rage around him and his ideas. For in a world that is equal parts splendor and barbarism, an obscure cleric who seeks "the secret music of the universe" poses a most devastating threat.