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Raptor by Gary Jennings

By Gary Jennings

From Publishers Weekly

In the outlet pages of Jennings's ( Aztec ) immense, audacious historic novel concerning the Gothic conquest of the Roman Empire, Thorn, the hermaphrodite hero/heroine, is seduced first through a monk after which by means of a nun. Evicted from a monastery and a convent, Thorn is then schooled within the methods of the realm via the grumpy, blasphemous woodsman Wyrd. Rugged but delicate, often dressed as a guy, Thorn is to elim fragment raptorial (i.e., predatory) in his thirst for fanatics, female and male, and for event. He serves as box marshal, sidekick and secret agent for bloody Theodoric (A.D. 454-526), king of the Ostrogoths, depicted the following as a benevolent despot. For all its sexual titillation and gory battles, this majestically paced epic with its unconventional hero regularly rewards because it leads readers via unique byways of the fragmented Roman Empire, delving into pagan customs, Christian mysteries, corruption, slavery and the tolerant Arianism embraced via the Goths yet condemned via the Catholic Church as a heresy. throughout the androgynous Thorn, attuned to the struggle betwen the masculine and female facets of his nature, Jennings subtly explores the gender-based roles imposed via society. Spiced with medieval style, the radical will captivate readers prepared to dedicate themselves to an extended, targeted, occasionally ploddingly written yet eventually intoxicating narrative.

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Example text

That wasp’s nest of unease that never stops buzzing. I turn towards the window. In silence, I try to listen to the Magister’s far-off cries. I don’t know whether I can really make them out or whether I’m just imagining I can. He is shouting that David is here among us, with his slingshot in his hand. The Luther Blissett – Q – 26th September 2002 Page 52 of 477 words of his last sermon to the League of the elect, when the people almost turned around to look for little King David with the rock in his slingshot, so much did the Magister’s words have the tone of a genuine evocation, rather than a mere rhetorical device.

In the crowded corridor leading to the auditorium where everyone is waiting for Luther, I catch up with my friend Martin Borrhaus, whom everyone calls Cellarius, and who’s also excited about what’s just happened. In a low voice: ‘Did you see Melanchthon’s face? Mister Sharp-as-a-Razor touched a nerve there. ’ ‘His name’s Müntzer. Thomas Müntzer. ’ Luther Blissett – Q – 26th September 2002 Page 32 of 477 Carafa’s eye (1521) Luther Blissett – Q – 26th September 2002 Page 33 of 477 Letter sent to Rome from the city of Worms, seat of the Imperial Diet, addressed to Gianpietro Carafa, dated 14 May 1521.

While I read he nods in silence. He seems to be reflecting on the words, running them through his memory. ’ ‘That’s right. ’ I rapidly reread St Paul’s words, and my answer comes from the heart: ‘That we did well to burn the temple of idolatry. ’ ‘You did it out of zeal. But do you not believe that there is someone to whom God has given the sword required for that purpose? ’ ‘Paul asserts that that task is assigned to the authorities who are given that purpose. ’ He brightens: ‘Exactly. The zeal of the elect has had to wrest the sword from the powerful in order to do what the powerful refused to do: defend the people and the Christian faith.

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