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.
John Banville, the author of fifteen previous novels, has been the recipient of the Man Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Award, the Franz Kafka Prize and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Dublin.