April 26, 2003

The Scholars of Night by John M. Ford

I got this used from Powells Books when I needed a few more items to get my order to $50 for free shipping. Which makes it sound like it was a shot in the dark, but actually I always have an eye out for books by Ford. This one has been out of print so long that I had to scan my own picture of the cover to adorn this entry. It's a cold-war spy novel. Nicholas Hansard is a history professor at a small Eastern US college who does a little side work authenticating historical items for a mysterious government agency. He is asked to investigate a newly found manuscript of a previously unknown play by Christopher Marlowe. I keep getting some of the events in the book confused with those in Possession since they share the conceit of hunting down events of hundreds of years before through the analysis of documents and the imagining of the circumstances under which they were produced. As with any spy story, it's pointless to try to describe the plot because there are so many twists and turns that you've no idea what the plot is until it's over.

Ford does a fine job with the story, writing a whole raft of characters who do believable things for believable reasons. The plotting moves at a breakneck pace throughout. Apart from a few genre references from the characters themselves, you'd never suspect that Ford has written mostly science fiction or that the publisher of this book, Tor, publishes mostly science fiction.

Posted by jeffy at April 26, 2003 11:31 PM

what is the plot of the story? i am currently reading it but i am lost

Posted by: wer at January 16, 2006 07:49 AM
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