Friday, 4 January 2008

Spanish Voynich novel...

"El castillo de las estrellas" [Googled translation of the review here] by Enrique Joven is a science-y thriller, with the Voynich Manuscript placed right at the heart of the story. Once again, my heart sinks yet further towards my toes as I read that the plot revolves around a Jesuit scientist (*sigh*), as well as an astronomer (the same profession as the author's) and an English teacher working in Mexico, all three protagonists caught up in a action-packed fugue danced beneath the gaze of ancient spirits (or something along those lines).

However, the good thing about the book is that it apparently puts the VMs within the context of early modern astronomy, which - given the whole of the astro section and the sun/moon symmetries, which are especially apparent once you've fixed up the page order in Quire 9 - has to be a real possibility. Also, there seems to be a lot going on, which is normally a good thing in novels. :-)

Here's the publisher's (Flash-heavy) page on the book: there's a nice little quiz to do there, if your Spanish and knowledge of astrophysics are up for some fun (I kid you not). Here's a YouTube interview with the author; his UK literary agent's pitch for the book; and a 5-page Spanish PDF from the original publisher's site (though it only recites late-16th century astronomical history, don't struggle through it looking for any insight on the VMs on my account).

I don't know: it all sounds a lot like Enrique Jovan has had to labour long and hard to bring the reader up to scratch on the VMs (which probably accounts for the high page count) within its presumed historical context (I'm guessing the author has plumped for 16th century, but I could be wrong). Perhaps that prolix mix - of journalism and plot - is the novelistic curse of the Voynich from which novelists have to engineer an escape, lest the reader gets trapped with them? :-o

1 comment:

eja said...

Hello Nick,
Yes, I'm Enrique Joven!
Surprised by your blog, and also by your (similar?) novel "Curse of the Voynich". Of course, I am going to read it (it is in Amazon, easy for me). It seems (unfortunately? i am not sure) that a prolific series of novels about the VM is coming. Not only my book (and yours), also a French author ("Manuscript MS408" by Thierry Maugenest) and other spanish autor ("El quinto mandamiento", Eric Frattini). The french one is not so bad, the Frattini's one is ... I've no words to describe "it" (may be in private). I am anxious to read your book.

About "El castillo de las estrellas"... I hope you like. It will be published in English ("The castle of the stars") on September'08, by HarperCollins in USA. In some other countries also. I am rather surprised about this unexpected success. Well, I think it is enough by now. Please, write to me if you like...

enrique.joven AT

Enrique Joven