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"Endymion Spring" by Matthew Skelton

Endymion Spring          
Matthew Skelton
February 2006
Puffin Books
                         448 pages


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       "Bring only the insight
        the inside brings..."


        An historical fantasy which spans the present and the past, "Endymion Spring"
        takes the basis of its story from the facts surrounding the development of the
        first printing press to use movable type, in Mainz, Germany in 1452. Fantastic
        events in that dark medieval world reach their conclusion in the hallowed libraries
        and halls of modern-day Oxford. There is, you see, a mystical book made from
        the skin of a tree dragon, and it hides within it some miraculous secrets that
        can only be unlocked by a select few readers. This is no ordinary book, then,
        but a living creation that feeds and grows... and reveals....

        Somehow this extraordinary creation has found its way England's most famous
        halls of learning, where it is rediscovered by a transatlantic youngster, Blake
        and his spunky younger sister Duck. But even as Blake begins to unravel the
        mysteries, so the members of a secretive society scheme to take it for
        their own. As we read on, we learn how the book came to be, who it snared
        and who sought its whereabouts for their own wicked ways. We also learn
        of Blake's fate, of deceit and a literary pursuit that puts both his own and
        his sister's life in grave danger...

                                               Minor spoiler
                      Highlight the text below to reveal an Endymion secret!Th
»» Endymion Spring is actually the name of the book's creator ««

       The Gnome says

       "Endymion Spring" is an event book. That is to say, it was published on
       a big wave of publicity. Matthew Skelton is a first-timer author and the rights
       to his hot new novel have sold to Warner Bros. for a very tidy sum. Which
       might prove a mixed blessing. Obviously, it's great to have your book garner
       so much attention within the publishing world. But there's also the baggage
       of high expectation and the risk of a failure that could end your career before
       it's even begun. So with these notions in the back of your mind, you turn
       the first page and the book reveals...

       What, exactly?

       A book of two halves, actually. The good news is, it's a page-turner. It reads
       well. It makes clever use of historical fact. It's descriptive and it's also handsomely
       presented. The UK dustjacket mixes black scaled paper with golden foil, and
       the binding is square and chunky, in an olde worlde way. Inside its covers, the
       two time frames of the story are in fact printed on different paper. The present
       day tale is standard black text on clean white pages. Events of the past,
       however, are set upon a grey-faded parchment, mimicking the olde book itself.
       There's even a torn corner, just like the mythical creation. Each of the sections
       ends on a suitable cliffhanger, to be picked up in the next encounter.
       But here's the rub. Whilst the book itself is a fantastic creation, the stories
       surrounding its secret transportation from Germany and eventual re-discovery
       aren't quite as inspiring. There's lots of mystery to keep you reading, but
       nothing too fantastic seems to happen, until the pages of the book come
       together at the climax, and we make a spooky descent into the bowels of
       the Bodleain Library...

       Like the book at its heart, which feeds off its readers so "Endymion Spring"
       feeds off its contemporaries. It takes its Oxford locations from "His Dark
       Materials", its literary magic from "Inkheart", and most noticably of all, its
       blend of history and mystery comes straight out of "The Da Vinci Code".
       Yes, Mathew Skelton's novel is Dan Brown for kids. And just as that
       book divides its readership, so too does "Endymion Spring"

       On the one hand, those Oxford haunts are vividly depicted, Blake's sense
       of isolation is well conveyed, and the first couple of visits to Mainz certainly
       whet your mood for more. The sequence in the Well of Souls - er - Books
       at the end is inspired - it'll look great on film. And there are times when the
       author conjurs up a scene in one fantastic line...

       ...But on the other hand, he often trips over his shoelacing sentences.
       He'll use some wildly descriptive prose, when a little more brevity would
       have sufficed. It's interesting to note that the author is a former Oxford
       scholar himself, who arrived via America, just like the story's hero. His
       historical conceits are clever, but are they too clever for his audience?
       After all, there aren't many kids out there who can be familiar with the
       history of the printing press. Or maybe that's the point. We're to use
       the book as a stepping-stone into history...

       Oh, do you see? - Like the gimic of its two-colour pages, this book varies
       from tight bright white to murky grey. It's an enigma in a riddle for us
       to decipher. "Endymion Spring" opens up, beckons us inside...
       but what does it reveal to you?



       Keep your eye out for the special signed edition of this book.
       The title page sports the author's signature, together with an official
       red dragon stamp of authenticity...

        "Endymion Spring" - signed edition


      Buy this book


Endymion Spring               Endymion Spring
      UK Hardback edition....            UK Paperback edition...


      On the web

      Puffin Books
      The UK publisher's web site...

      Random House
      In the US there's this handsome interactive mini-site...

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