Thursday 5 January 2012

Blog Tour: Author Robin Wasserman on the strange-but-true historical background of The Book of Blood and Shadow.

So when I mentioned on twitter that I  had a ton of blog tours lined up in January, I wasn't kidding, huh! Today I'm welcoming author Robin Wasserman to the blog. She's written a fascinating guest post for the blog as part of her blog tour for the upcoming Book of Blood and Shadow. I was already excited for this book, but after reading Robin's post, I'm even more excited for it! Roll on January 19th!

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Atom.
Release date: January 19th 2012.

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.  When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love.  When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead.  His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

Guest Post: Robin Wasserman on the strange-but-true historical background of 
The Book of Blood and Shadow.

So I have a problem. I agreed to write a brief blog post about all the historical research I did while I was working on The Book of Blood and Shadow and the strange-but-true historical background of the book and the amazing stories and images of Renaissance Prague and…

Well, maybe you’ve already figured out that my problem is the “brief” part.

Fear not! I could write you an encyclopedia’s worth on all the history behind the story, but instead, I’ve forced myself to assemble my absolute favorite (ie weirdest, creepiest, or most surprising) historical factoids and tidbits…and I’m forcing myself to keep it (um, relatively) short.

When I first came up with the idea for this book, all I knew was that I wanted the historical mystery piece of it to be centered around some real life figures—so I locked myself in a room for a few weeks with a giant stack of books about the Renaissance, and tried to feel my way toward something that would work.

It didn’t take long to hone in on Prague, which had all the mythology, magic, and colorful characters any author could need, all of them swirling around a guy who really deserves an entire novel all to himself, Emperor Rudolf II. 

This was one of his favorite portraits of himself. Enough said? Rudolf was eccentric, paranoid, and, most people figured, more than a little crazy. He was the secular leader of the Catholic Church…but most of the Church’s leadership suspected he might be the anti-Christ, or at least one of the Devil’s staunchest allies. He had his castle filled with covered passageways and secret tunnels, because he hated the idea of anyone watching him…especially when he was prowling around his kunstkammer, the giant hidden vault that contained his massive collection of paintings, weapons, machines, religious objects, magical talismans, taxodermied animals, skeletons, medals, amulets…Rudolf wasn’t just a hoarder. He was the king of the hoarders.

And his favorite thing to collect? People. That’s what made Renaissance Prague so perfect for the book—the thinkers and artists who lived and worked in Rudolf’s court were some of the most brilliant of their time. They were also some of the weirdest. 

And none was weirder than Edward Kelley, court alchemist (until he got on Rudolf’s bad side, supposedly for withholding the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone, and got shoved in a remote palace prison for the brief rest of his life). 

Rumors swirling around Edward Kelley: He’d had his ears sliced off as punishment for fraud; he’d turned a baby into a donkey, out of spite; he was secretly assassinated on the Emperor’s orders; he was the one to sell Rudolf II the Voynich Manuscript—he may even have written it.

The Voynich Manuscript is the Book of Blood and Shadow—the ancient text that sets off all the trouble in the novel—and it’s real. This sixteenth century (or fifteenth century, or nineteenth century, depending on who you ask and whose evidence you want to believe) text has been called “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.” Its 240 pages of symbols, illustrations, and what seems to be a legitimate but completely un-translatable language, have foiled the world’s best cryptographers for decades. (For the first time ever, the entire manuscript is available online -- in case you want to try cracking the code yourself. Though be careful, it’s driven at least one guy mad.) 

Once I discovered the Voynich Manuscript, and then discovered that it had been traced back to Rudolf II’s collection of weird and mystical texts, and then discovered it might have been placed there by Edward Kelley, who, it just so happened, had a teenage daughter (Elizabeth Jane Weston, who grew up to be a famous poet) I had the lightbulb moment I’d been waiting for. I had a romantic heroine; I had a historical puzzle; I had more weird characters than I could ever want. (And I haven’t even had a chance to tell you about the Rabbi and his golem or the witch and her warriors, but I promise, it’s all in the book.)

It was like the universe had dropped a novel into my lap…all I had to do was write it.

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman is published by Atom as a paperback original on January 19th 2012 , £6.99


  1. What a fascinating guest post! I absolutely loved the historical detail in the book and Rudolph II sounds like an absolute character. Fantastic.

  2. That is a great cover. Thanks for the post and the history lesson!

  3. Omg Rudolf is creeping me out!! Gerat post I hadn't heard of this book before. Sounds intriguing for sure!

    Xpresso Reads

    1. I know!! Rudolf freaked me out when I opened the email containing this post! ;)

  4. This one has been on my radar for a while! It sounds like researching this book was really fun for the author and I can't wait to see how she ties it all together:)

  5. Prof.Zlatoděj .J.T.
    The manuscript is writen and encrypted in the Czech language. Manuscript can not resolve the English language.
    I have kompiled many pages of the manuscript.
    info :

  6. I am reading this very soon, so I'm bookmarking this to come back to once I'm done. I can already tell by the bits I've skimmed and the photos that it's awesome, though!

  7. Such an interesting post & I do love history lessons. :)

  8. Ok, wow. I was on the fence about this book but now I am totally enthralled. All of those historical details? An author who cares enough to do all that research? Ah, I think I'm in love. I'm seeing if I can get my hands on a copy now. Awesome, awesome guest post!

    1. I love this guest post too. I'm reading this book now and it's great to have the post to refer back to! :)


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