A TRAVELLER AT THE GATES OF WISDOM BY JOHN BOYNE


PLOT SUMMARY:

Some stories are universal. They play out across human history. And time is the river which will flow through them.

It starts with a family, a family which will mutate. For now, it is a father, mother and two sons. One with his father’s violence in his blood. One who lives his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will change their fate. It is a beginning.

Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years – they will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From distant Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium to a life amongst the stars in the third. While the world will change around them, their destinies will remain the same. It must play out as foretold. It is written.

MY REVIEW:

As some of you may know, I am a huge John Boyne fan. After reading The Heart’s Invisible Furies, I fell in love with his writing and have read so many of his books since. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Needless to say, I was so excited when he released a new book this year and had it pre-ordered so I could get my hands on it straight away! ⁣⁣ ⁣

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom is very different to Boyne’s other books. Rather than focusing on heavy and important topics that surround society today, he approached this book from less political and righteous side and simply told us a story. A tale as old as time some might say.

I loved the concept of the book, it’s so simple but so clever. We follow the same story that continues throughout time with different characters. Boyne takes us on an epic journey from 1st century Palestine, to 2nd Romania to, 3rd century Italy and beyond. It is a beautiful depiction of how our life experiences and worries that we experience today in 2020, were the similar worries, experiences and aspirations of a person in 1311. Yes, many things have changed but the universality of human experience and the basic journey of life in which we found ourselves are very much the same. ⁣ ⁣

I also found the characters so well portrayed. Boyne excellently makes sure that we can follow who is who by only changing their names slightly in each new chapter, century and country. Our nameless protagonist is so strong and as each new chapter reveals more about him and his journey, the more you feel his growth and want to embark on this journey until its end.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t give this my usual 9 or 10 out of 10 that I give Boyne’s books and the reason being that I just didn’t fall in love with it as much as I did his other books. I know it’s unfair to compare but when I think of the effects THIF and some of his other books had on me, this one just didn’t meet the mark. ⁣I also found the ending a little underwhelming and bizarre. The last few chapters were really rushed and it just felt like an unworthy conclusion to such an epic adventure that transcended time and place. However, as I said, the concept is so clever and for those of you who have read The Absolutist, there is an amazing crossover with that book which I loved! ⁣⁣

So would I recommend it? Yes. It’s still a fantastic book and I think from any other author I’d have given it all of the stars but because of how important I find Boyne’s works to be, my expectations were too high and it was hard for me to see how it fit with his other works. ⁣⁣

IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:

Unique

Clever

Thought Provoking


FAVOURITE QUOTE:

'Some day we may build towers taller than the eye can see, fly through the sky on wings, even live among the stars. But I know this much; the things that surround us may change, but our emotions will always remain the same. A man who loses his beloved wife a thousand years ago suffered the same grief that I felt when I lost mine, no more no less...Love does not change, anger never varies. Hope, desperation, fear, longing, desire, lust, anxiety, confusion and joy; you and I endure these emotions just as men and women always have or ever will.'

FAVOURITE CHARACTER:

This is an impossible decision. Because of the nature of the book, our protagonist alone embodies an endless number of personalities and personas so choosing just one is very hard.


OVERALL RATING:

7/10

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