The Master's Apprentice by Oliver Potzsch is a saga about a man who carries many burdens, some of which he doesn't understand. In many ways, it is a coming of age story in which Johann comes of age several times. It is a metaphor for most lives but in some ways Johann's problems are more concrete, even when he doesn't understand them. It basically starts off when he is sixteen although there are glimpses of his life before that. He has always felt different in his home. His mother loves him; his father doesn't. After his mother dies, he, his friend, Margarethe, and his younger brother take off to the woods for a day. He and Margarethe spend some time exploring one another in a secluded cave. When they come out, his brother is gone. While he searches for his brother, Margarethe disappears. He runs to town for help. Eventually they find Margarethe who has been traumatized and is talking nonsense, but his brother is never found. That day is father tells him he is not his father at all and asks him to leave. After several days he runs into a traveling magician who he had met before and they team up. So begin his adventures, of which he has many.
This is a complicated book, as one might assume the story of a man's life might be. People love, die, hate, despair, and help each other. His life is written in segments, clear and distinct. The story takes place before and after the year 1500 and mostly in Germanic states, not that that necessarily makes a difference. He runs into the inquisition, torture, devil worship, itinerant entertainment, higher education and so much more. Johann is a good man who makes mistakes, gets involved with the wrong people, and looks for redemption. It is a compelling and beautifully written story. Johann learns to love and to trust, which are necessary lessons, as well as to take happiness where one can find it. I recommend this book. It is not an easy read. There are things some may find offensive. Much of it is frightening and sad, but worthwhile.
I received a free ARCC of The Master's Apprentice from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions and interpretations contained herein are solely my own. #netgalley #themastersapprentice