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In the Falcon's Claw: A Novel of the Year 1000 Paperback – March 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Cowley Publications (March 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561012874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561012879
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,291,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this first novel by Boston Globe science columnist and nonfiction author ( Honey from Stone and Soul of the Night ), the portents, superstitions and papal machinations of the impending millennium furnish a provocative setting for interplay between historical and created characters. Framed as both an eloquent memoir of the fictional Irish monk Aileran and a defense against accusations of his heresy, the narrative is in episodic and evocative form. Aileran recounts his life and loves to the captivating friend of his youth, Gerbert, with whom Aileran traveled and shared illicit pleasures, and who later assumed the tiara as the powerful prelate Sylvester II. Aileran's life and times are forged by contrast as he struggles with questions of faith and spirit. As a novice, he is the only survivor of a gruesome Viking raid. As monk-tutor to beautiful Melisande, he masks his desire by instructing her in Ovid's poetry--but only until a ripe time arrives for the lovers, and the subsequent price is more costly than either could have imagined. Raymo's elegant prose and his fidelity to historical detail distinguish [...] this well-crafted, often moving novel.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This novel by an author of works on science and on nature as it reflects the spiritual is set in the last decades of the Dark Ages in Europe. It is the memoir of Aileran, an Irish-born monk, presented in fragments collected by his beautiful, well-born lover Melisande. Entwined with these two lives is the brilliant, ambitious, pleasure-loving priest Gerbert, who becomes Pope Sylvester II. On the world's stage, he is Christ's Vicar. In a less exalted arena, Gerbert has introduced the naive Aileran to sin and put the lovers in jeopardy. Inevitably, Aileran is branded a heretic; Gerbert must decide if he can afford to spare his friend. The color, complexity, and brutality of a little-known time--a world which approaches the millenium in fear of the "End of Days"--is captured. There is a thorough grasp of secular and Church history. The character of Gerbert is fascinating and dominates. But this unique work is marred by difficult vocabulary, which will discourage readers. A chronology and glossary would have helped.
- Libby K. White, Schenectady Cty .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam I Am on April 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read this book three times now and I'm sure that I will again. Chet Raymo is, in my humble opinion, one of America's best writers. In the Falcon's Claw he takes us to the world Christianity just before that other millennium -- the year 1000. Christianity by then had its strongest dogmatic grasp on the peoples of Europe and any other enlightened views within that religion were strongly repressed -- often with death. Common events in nature were nearly always seen as signs from God rather than just what they were. The protagonist Aileran, an Irish monk, rejects supernaturalism and, after many years of searching for some kind of enlightenment, finds himself, in the end, facing heresy charges in Rome -- under the authority of an old friend of his youth, Gerbert, who is now the Pope. A beautifully written book that is very relevant to the current dialog concerning faith and reason here at the next millennium.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ash on July 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have read much of Raymo's nonfiction, as well as his novel Dork of Cork - he has a wonderful way of bringing science and nature to the forefront. He does the same with this book. And like his other books, his writing is just perfect. But...

There are several situations in the book that are constantly mulled over by one of the characters - over and over again. I could have done less of that, and less introspection, and more debate between the two monks who were friends, with one becoming a pope (I didn't realize he was based on a real character) Also the time line of the book is rather difficult to keep straight - and I usually don't have problems with this. I had trouble remembering when the character had done something or if he was about to do something....Finally - there was a very Inquisition like section that made me wonder - was this happening that early? But overall, if you are interested in religious discussion, and discussion of miracles vs science/nature, this is a book to read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andres C. Salama on February 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Read it a while ago - the first edition came out in english in 1990 - but this novelized biography of Gerbert of Aurillac - a medieval scientist, unusually learned for his time in western europe and who would rule as a pope with the name of Sylvester II in the year 1000 - was a very interesting read, if my mind does not fail. Before becoming pope, Gerbert lived a number of years in Spain, and was able to contact the muslims scientists living there - Spain was unusual during that time for the (relatively) peaceful coexistence of jews, muslims and christians in its territory. A good book dealing with a period of time - the millenium - we do not know much about - western civilization was at its low point around that time.
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Format: Paperback
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/07)

In the year 998 A.D., the teaching of the Apocalypse is believed imminent and the year 1000 A.D. is established as the date for the long anticipated end of the world. A combination of fear and superstition among the church followers, and the attempt to strengthen the church at Rome at a time when the Roman Empire is crumbling, give cause for the church to focus on the final Day of Judgment. The Roman church declares itself to be the absolute authority in interpreting the scriptures and bidding of God. People are encouraged to prepare for the end times, to sell what they have and give it to the church.

Aileran, an Irish born monk, takes issue with the Church. Once he was acknowledged by the church and the people as saintly and now Aileran is accused of heresy. The novel is based on a mixture of real events and fictional characters. An illicit romance, greed, and power, draw the reader back to the tenth century. Raymo has developed a story that reflects science and nature in a spiritual setting toward the end of the Dark Ages in Europe.

The author has captured the essence of the political landscape era. The book is written as a memoir of Aileran and includes correspondence that offers additional insight and commentary to move the plot forward. The story explores love, friendship, and incorporates a profound questioning of ageless spiritual and religious questions. There is a theme contrasting cowardice and compromise that carries throughout this poignant story.
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