Mappamundi (Dedalus Original Fiction in Paperback)

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9781903517772: Mappamundi (Dedalus Original Fiction in Paperback)

Where is Paradise? How can a man get there? A life of virtue might suffice, but who wants to wait for death to claim life's rewards? Thomas Deerham, wandering war-torn Europe, has no thought of going anywhere but home. But when he falls in with a friar and a pilgrim, his plans change. The three men, none of them quite what they seem, set off on a quest that takes them beyond the known world to places only dreamt of by ancient cosmographers. In this sequel to False Ambassador, Thomas Deerham seizes his chance to escape papal service when Pius II dies at Ancona. Stealing a copy of Plato's Timaeus, and a beautiful mappamundi drawn up by the great scholar Toscanelli, he heads for England and home. Robbed in Paris, he is helped by vagabond-poet François Villon. Bitter after his exile and disgrace, François follows Thomas to England. But the Hundred Years' War is giving way the Wars of the Roses, and England is no place for friendless wanderers. By the middle of a bitter winter, after a series if failed scams, the pair face starvation. They are rescued by Christian Rosenkreutz, who has followed Thomas to get the mappamundi, which he thinks will guide him to Paradise. When François steals a bizarrely illustrated book, (now known as the Voynich Manuscript) written in a language no one can understand, new possibilities are suggested. Rosenkreutz proposes a voyage to search for the lost wisdom of Atlantis, and the three set off on travels that rival those of Mandeville and Marco Polo.

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About the Author:

Christopher Harris was born in London in 1951. After studying art he had a vast array of different jobs before returning to university to take a degree in biology and teach science. He now lives in Birmingham with his wife, a university lecturer, and writes full-time He is the auhor of the Byzantine trilogy; Theodore, False Ambassador and Memoirs of a Byzantine Eunuch and Mappamundi He is currently writing a novel on the British heretic Pelagius

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August 15th, 1464 It was a good thing that the pope died at Ancona. Not that I didn't like His Holiness. I counted him a friend, even though he made me serve him and never gave me the indulgence he promised. No doubt he would have freed and pardoned me eventually, had he lived. I liked the pope, and wished him no harm. It was the place of his dying that was a good thing, and the time, not the death itself. Had he died at Rome I might never have got away. Had he crossed the sea and begun his great venture we might all have been slaughtered by the Turks. And, having been nearly killed by the Turks already, that was something I was keen to avoid. So dying at Ancona was the best thing His Holiness could have done. Even before Pope Pius died, his plans were falling apart. The rabble he called a crusade had mostly gone back to where they came from. As soon as they heard the sad news, the papal courtiers did the same, heading back to Rome before a new pope could be chosen. Pius's closest retainers stayed with his body, but only so that they could pilfer his belongings. How they must have wished he had died in the Vatican, where they could have looted his private apartments! In Ancona, in that bare room in a borrowed palace, there was little to steal. Even so, I knew I must take something to fund my escape. The low-vaulted room was dimly lit. There was a lamp at the bedside, a few guttering candles elsewhere. A couple of servants attended to the pope's body, furtively searching him while they laid his limbs straight. Others were going through his baggage, turning out clothes and vestments, stripping them of embroidery or cloth of gold. I quickly looked around. On a table near the pope's deathbed was the book I had been reading to him, a new translation of Plato's Timaeus. In the rush to grab something of value it had been ignored by everyone. I was surprised that Patrizzi, the pope's secretary, had not taken it, as he resented the service I did for his friend and master. All the way to Ancona I had been reading bits of the book at the pope's bedside, so I knew it was as dull as anything of that sort could be. But it was neatly written in the fancy Italian style, and would bring me a good price from the right buyer. I have sold books before, and travelled far on the proceeds. It is just a matter of luck, of finding a wise fool who will pay well for what he cannot understand. I picked the book up and slipped it under my tunic.

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