The first of Britisher Pownall's six novels to be published here is an ingenious medieval picaresque--an intellectual tour...

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The first of Britisher Pownall's six novels to be published here is an ingenious medieval picaresque--an intellectual tour de force that tells the tale of a mason and his son, manipulated by the forces that rule the chaos of 13th-century England, striving toward truth within their heretical Albigensian faith. Like all masons, Hedric Herbertson's dad Bert is secretly an Albigensian, hiding his heresy in guild ritual. His mother gone, Hedric is taught masonic craft and religion by Bert. In Dover, Hedric, a prodigy, recognizes in the work of mason Hans Seersach the Second Style of Emergence--an architectural statement that will someday supplant the First, or ""pointy,"" style, moving forward the secret dialogue with Christianity and bringing man's relationship with God closer to the Albigensian stance. Seersach is exiled and murdered for his genius, while young Hedric comes to the attention of England's absolute rulers, The Four: Henry III; Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln; Henry de Reyns, the King's Mason; and Simon de Montfort. Hoping to train a mind that can knit together Christian and Albigensian truths to reveal God, they send Hedric to Oxford to study with Roger Bacon. Later, fleeing factional warfare among the student body, Hedric is reunited with Bert in Sherwood Forest, a setting for bizarre ""scientific"" experiments by the Four, hiding behind the Robin Hood legend. Intricate, challenging, intellectually stimulating work: a novel that re-creates the confusion of an age straggling to build order from chaos within the hobbles of scholasticism, but that also has earthy, human characters, humor, ranging from gentle to grotesque, and an intense and painful portrait of the father-son relationship.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988