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The King's Anatomist: The Journey of Andreas Vesalius

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A revolutionary anatomist, a memory-laden journey, and a shocking discovery. n 1565 Brussels, the reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche receives shattering news that his lifelong friend, the renowned and controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius, has died on the Greek island of Zante returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jan decides to journey to his friend A revolutionary anatomist, a memory-laden journey, and a shocking discovery. n 1565 Brussels, the reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche receives shattering news that his lifelong friend, the renowned and controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius, has died on the Greek island of Zante returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jan decides to journey to his friend's grave to offer his last goodbye. Jan's sentimental and arduous journey to Greece with his assistant Marcus is marked by shared memories, recalled letters, and inner dialogues with Andreas, all devices to shed light on Andreas' development as a scientist, physician, and anatomist. But the journey also gradually uncovers a dark side of Andreas even as Jan yearns for the widow of Vesalius, Anne. When Jan and Marcus finally arrive on Zante, the story takes a major twist as a disturbing mystery unfolds. Jan and Marcus are forced to take a drastic and risky measure that leads to a shocking discovery. On his return home, Jan learns that Andreas was an unknowing pawn in a standoff between King Philip of Spain, his employer, and Venice. When he arrives home in Brussels, he must finally reckon with his feelings for Anne. A debut novel by Ron Blumenfeld, The King's Anatomist is a fascinating medical history blended eloquently with meaningful relationships and a riveting mystery. Set within a pivotal time in European history, the story carries readers through some of the most important medical discoveries while engaging them in a deeply personal story of growing older and confronting relationships. A fictional masterpiece with real and relevant historical sources, The King's Anatomist is as enlightening as it is enjoyable.


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A revolutionary anatomist, a memory-laden journey, and a shocking discovery. n 1565 Brussels, the reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche receives shattering news that his lifelong friend, the renowned and controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius, has died on the Greek island of Zante returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jan decides to journey to his friend A revolutionary anatomist, a memory-laden journey, and a shocking discovery. n 1565 Brussels, the reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche receives shattering news that his lifelong friend, the renowned and controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius, has died on the Greek island of Zante returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jan decides to journey to his friend's grave to offer his last goodbye. Jan's sentimental and arduous journey to Greece with his assistant Marcus is marked by shared memories, recalled letters, and inner dialogues with Andreas, all devices to shed light on Andreas' development as a scientist, physician, and anatomist. But the journey also gradually uncovers a dark side of Andreas even as Jan yearns for the widow of Vesalius, Anne. When Jan and Marcus finally arrive on Zante, the story takes a major twist as a disturbing mystery unfolds. Jan and Marcus are forced to take a drastic and risky measure that leads to a shocking discovery. On his return home, Jan learns that Andreas was an unknowing pawn in a standoff between King Philip of Spain, his employer, and Venice. When he arrives home in Brussels, he must finally reckon with his feelings for Anne. A debut novel by Ron Blumenfeld, The King's Anatomist is a fascinating medical history blended eloquently with meaningful relationships and a riveting mystery. Set within a pivotal time in European history, the story carries readers through some of the most important medical discoveries while engaging them in a deeply personal story of growing older and confronting relationships. A fictional masterpiece with real and relevant historical sources, The King's Anatomist is as enlightening as it is enjoyable.

30 review for The King's Anatomist: The Journey of Andreas Vesalius

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    One of the few fictional characters is the narrator, Andreas Vesalius's friend, who undertakes a journey to his friend's grave after receiving the news of his demise. The journey takes a long time and is an opportunity for Jan to recall his youth and his friendships, his university times and his love. The Vesalius's life and his research into atonomy in the 16th century was a fascinating journey for me. The writing is meant to tell a story of real people whose visions allowed medicine to develop One of the few fictional characters is the narrator, Andreas Vesalius's friend, who undertakes a journey to his friend's grave after receiving the news of his demise. The journey takes a long time and is an opportunity for Jan to recall his youth and his friendships, his university times and his love. The Vesalius's life and his research into atonomy in the 16th century was a fascinating journey for me. The writing is meant to tell a story of real people whose visions allowed medicine to develop in the next centuries. *Many thanks to Ron Bluemfeld, History Through Fiction, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*

  2. 4 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    Very good first novel by Ron Blumenfeld, as he tackles a book on the rather unknown Andreas Vesalius, the father of modern anatomy and is set in 1565. This book is loaded with a lot of interesting facts about Vesalius, a person I had never had heard of until this book. Good historical fiction that begins by setting out the basics of the narrator Jan Van den Bossche, who is presented as both a childhood friend and "astral twin" of Andreas (they were born on the same day of the same year and only a Very good first novel by Ron Blumenfeld, as he tackles a book on the rather unknown Andreas Vesalius, the father of modern anatomy and is set in 1565. This book is loaded with a lot of interesting facts about Vesalius, a person I had never had heard of until this book. Good historical fiction that begins by setting out the basics of the narrator Jan Van den Bossche, who is presented as both a childhood friend and "astral twin" of Andreas (they were born on the same day of the same year and only a few blocks apart. Jan is a fictional character who carries this tale of Vesalius from their first friendship at school, and for a first time author I was very impressed with how Blumenfeld then carried this tale throughout the book, as he skips from college years to Jan receiving notice that Velanius died returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was buried on the Greek island of Zante. This prompts Van den Bossche to embark on his own pilgrimage to Zante to say goodbye to his old friend. Along the way Van den Bossche stops at numerous towns along the way, and at each town he meets people who had been a part of Vesalius's life and we learn more details through these sources, be they a Cardinal who was an old friend, a printer, professor, etc. We learn about Vesalius's love of anatomy from an early age, and his pursuit of perfection so that he had at the time of his death the most advanced anatomy book in the world. While preferring Academia, he is "reduced" to being the court physician of Charles V and Phillip II of Spain, a position that his forefathers had held but one that he was not suited for. But due to troubles at Court, Andreas went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem but died on Zante on his return trip. This is what prompts Jan to make his trip because he wants to pay a final tribute to his friend. But when he arrives at Zante things are not as all as he expected and this segment of the book is really strong and well done. We meet so many characters, all of whom are well developed, and we meet Anne, the love of Jan's life who eventually married Andreas, and now as Andreas' widow Jan is hopeful that upon his return to Brussels she will marry him. This is a fast read, and well plotted book, a book that you cannot put down, and is filled with revelations from the first chapter to the last page of the book. I, for one, am looking forward to the authors next book!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jannelies

    Author Ron Blumenfeld already has a long career behind him. He retired as a pediatrician and health care executive. I certainly hope he will have a long and healthy life still before him, because I just loved this book and want to read more of this author. I chose to request this book because I like books by David Field (Carlyle & West Mysteries, set in the 1890’s in London), Graham Brack (Master Mercurius Mysteries, set in circa 1760 in Leiden, Delft, Amsterdam) Ambrose Perry (Raven, Fisher and Author Ron Blumenfeld already has a long career behind him. He retired as a pediatrician and health care executive. I certainly hope he will have a long and healthy life still before him, because I just loved this book and want to read more of this author. I chose to request this book because I like books by David Field (Carlyle & West Mysteries, set in the 1890’s in London), Graham Brack (Master Mercurius Mysteries, set in circa 1760 in Leiden, Delft, Amsterdam) Ambrose Perry (Raven, Fisher and Simpson, set in 1850 in Edinburgh) and many more. What they all have in common is this wonderful mix of fact and fiction, written in an engaging style with strong characters and – important to me – humor. The book starts with a comprehensive list of historical figures and ends with an afterword from the author in which he guides the reader to interesting reading material. It’s the kind of book where you are happy to read it from a tablet so you can access Wikipedia at any moment to look for more information. The characters ánd the story ticked all the boxes for me. I have an interested in reading about medical history and of course I’m familiar with some of the paintings the author uses as illustrations in his book. It was instructive and made me want to read more. I don’t have to repeat the story here because that’s all in the blurb. Except for the main storyline there are lots of little things to pique the mind. Life was all but easy in that era, and the author did an excellent job in creating a very real atmosphere. Thanks to Netgalley for this review copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This story brings an interesting figure who marked his place in history by his discovery in anatomy. Andreas Vesalius is known as the founder of modern anatomy. His story is revealed through his friend Jan van den Bossche, mathematician. Brussels, 1565. Jan receives news of his friend’s death on the Greek island of Zante. He decides to make the journey to the island to say his farewell. As he journeys, through flashbacks, letters and inner dialogue, the story reveals how the two men met and how th This story brings an interesting figure who marked his place in history by his discovery in anatomy. Andreas Vesalius is known as the founder of modern anatomy. His story is revealed through his friend Jan van den Bossche, mathematician. Brussels, 1565. Jan receives news of his friend’s death on the Greek island of Zante. He decides to make the journey to the island to say his farewell. As he journeys, through flashbacks, letters and inner dialogue, the story reveals how the two men met and how they forged friendship. The story also holds some mystery. It is set during tumultuous time of Europe, and bringing some important medical discoveries. The story is rich in historical background, told with a crisp prose and having fast pace. However, the narration feels distant. I don’t mind flashbacks, but the combination with letters and inner dialogue kept me at distance. I didn’t fully connect with the narration, which brings a remarkable anatomist. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Debut author Ron Blumenfeld explores the history of medicine and anatomy while focusing on the life of the revolutionary Flemish physician and anatomist who dared to push the boundaries of Renaissance science. Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), committed to his discipline and a Renaissance trailblazer, highlighted the importance of dissection as well as the importance of publishing findings which didn’t fit into the beliefs of his day. It’s for this reason that we know him as the Father of Modern Ana Debut author Ron Blumenfeld explores the history of medicine and anatomy while focusing on the life of the revolutionary Flemish physician and anatomist who dared to push the boundaries of Renaissance science. Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), committed to his discipline and a Renaissance trailblazer, highlighted the importance of dissection as well as the importance of publishing findings which didn’t fit into the beliefs of his day. It’s for this reason that we know him as the Father of Modern Anatomy. Blumenfeld has created a fictional character, Jan van den Bossche, a talented mathematician, as the narrator in this enlightening account of Andreas Vesalius and has crafted him with impressive authenticity. Jan and Andreas’s friendship began on their first day of school when their teacher pointed out that they were born on the same day – December 31, 1514 – mere streets apart! The boys soon became inseparable and called themselves the Astral Twins. When Jan learns of his dear friend’s death in 1565, he sets out for the Greek Island of Zante to pay his last respects to his childhood friend. It’s during this journey that readers learn of Andreas’s life as Jan attempts to recall fond memories for his servant, Marcus. Readers become aware that the retelling of the friendship is as important for Marcus as it is for Jan, for it’s in the retelling that Jan becomes enlightened regarding Andreas’s bond with the King of Spain. In telling Marcus about Andreas’s wife, Jan realizes that he still cares deeply for her as he did before she became Andreas’s wife. This serves as the reminder that at a certain point in our adult life we become much better at examining and understanding the life we have lived – ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ A meticulously researched medical history featuring incredibly developed characters, this debut novel is impressive. Using multiple techniques in the narrative (thoughts, images, flashbacks and written correspondence) and peppering these with mystery, shocking discovery, and romance keeps the pacing even and the interest high. The author’s mesmerizing prose is filled with rich descriptions and an enlightening recounting of important medical discoveries. It accurately captures the times in which Vesalius lived. Although at times I felt like I was in a little over my head and treading water, I could still appreciate the importance of the foil that the Greek physician, Galen, serves for Vesalius’s medical breakthrough as well as appreciate the unlikely meetup of the Swiss physician, Paracelsus, and Vesalius. Richly educated and thoroughly impressed, I was left with the conclusion that perhaps I don’t know my friends as well as I’d like to think I know them. As with all great historical fiction, this novel has served as the catalyst to dig deeper into the life of this controversial anatomist. Publishes October 12, 2021. I was gifted this advance copy by Ron Blumenfeld, History Through Fiction, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I feel very fortunate to have a read an ARC of the King's Anatomist prior to the October 2021 release date. Thank you to NetGalley and History Through Fiction for providing me the opportunity to do so in exchange for an honest review. As a nurse and former student dissector in a cadaver lab, I have always been fascinated by the history of medicine and scientific advances. However, I admit, rather ashamedly, that I was not familiar with Vesalius prior to picking up this novel. Blumenfeld's novel I feel very fortunate to have a read an ARC of the King's Anatomist prior to the October 2021 release date. Thank you to NetGalley and History Through Fiction for providing me the opportunity to do so in exchange for an honest review. As a nurse and former student dissector in a cadaver lab, I have always been fascinated by the history of medicine and scientific advances. However, I admit, rather ashamedly, that I was not familiar with Vesalius prior to picking up this novel. Blumenfeld's novel introduces the reader to Vesalius through his fictional best friend and first person narrator, Jan van den Bossche, who goes on a journey to pay respects to the late Vesalius after he receives news of his tragic death in Greece. The journey that unfolds is unexpected and uncovers the unsettling realization that one does not always know the inner lives of one's closest companions. This novel artfully blends mystery, medical history, and European history, while providing poignant commentary on the messy nature of personal relationships. I am absolutely blown away that this is Blumenfeld's debut novel! The characters are so well developed, the prose witty and natural, the historical and medical content well-researched, and the plot compelling to the very end. It is a bold move to blend internal dialogue, letters, and flashbacks into the main storyline, but Blumenfeld manages this style expertly. I look forward to recommending The King's Anatomist to colleagues, mentors, friends, and family!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    This book was not what I expected, but a delightful read! I was not familiar with this historical time, other than in the broadest of stokes, but now have a better basis to imagine the settings. The Black Plaque has mostly left, and the start of The Renaissance has begun - along with changes in institutions that seemed eternal. Telling the personal tale of a friend of Vesalius: in visiting his grave, he also travels sections they once traveled together, and sees both mutual friends and those that This book was not what I expected, but a delightful read! I was not familiar with this historical time, other than in the broadest of stokes, but now have a better basis to imagine the settings. The Black Plaque has mostly left, and the start of The Renaissance has begun - along with changes in institutions that seemed eternal. Telling the personal tale of a friend of Vesalius: in visiting his grave, he also travels sections they once traveled together, and sees both mutual friends and those that knew Vesalius later. I was not familiar with Vesalius' look at anatomy, but took the time to look at some of it. You will encounter a few words that may not be in a familiar language (and the author makes sure they are understandable, even as context). The listing of famous figures in the order they appear in the book is a needed item, unless you have studied either this time, or this subject - I was delighted to find names that were familiar among those that were not. This book is a delight - not only does it tell the tale of the anatomist, but a look at the lives surrounding him, and the mindset of the time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Loretta Miles Tollefson

    I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy The King’s Anatomist, as I have no real interest in medical issues in the 1500s. I know who Galen and Parascelsus are, sort of. But that’s about it. That being said, I found myself strangely involved in the controversies laid out in this book. When those medical arguments gave way to the mystery of the anatomist’s death, I was hooked. This is a well-conceived novel with an interesting narrative approach that is surprisingly successful. Switching back and forth I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy The King’s Anatomist, as I have no real interest in medical issues in the 1500s. I know who Galen and Parascelsus are, sort of. But that’s about it. That being said, I found myself strangely involved in the controversies laid out in this book. When those medical arguments gave way to the mystery of the anatomist’s death, I was hooked. This is a well-conceived novel with an interesting narrative approach that is surprisingly successful. Switching back and forth in time and using a narrator who is not the primary subject of the story is a risk that the author pulls off beautifully. My only issue with this novel (and the reason for the four stars) is that it uses imagined events to propel the plot forward at key moments. While this makes for engaging historical fiction, it seems a stretch to call it History Through Fiction. I might have felt differently if the author had included a note that explained his rationale for the decisions he made with some historical information that provided support for his plot points, even if they were only “the King was known for pettiness,” or “we have no reason to believe otherwise.” All in all, The King’s Anatomist is an entertaining and informative read that gives the flavor of the times and provides an engaging story about a topic I didn’t know was interesting enough for an entire book. I look forward to more novels from this author.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I loved this book. For me, it ticks all the boxes. I am interested in the history of medicine and this book did a great job of discussing the early anatomists. I found the method of story-telling fascinating, as a first-person narrative through the eyes of Vesalius’s friend. There was an interesting mystery involved as well. The pacing is great as is the character development. I even enjoyed the banter between characters. I also enjoyed the way that art was incorporated into the narrative. Also I loved this book. For me, it ticks all the boxes. I am interested in the history of medicine and this book did a great job of discussing the early anatomists. I found the method of story-telling fascinating, as a first-person narrative through the eyes of Vesalius’s friend. There was an interesting mystery involved as well. The pacing is great as is the character development. I even enjoyed the banter between characters. I also enjoyed the way that art was incorporated into the narrative. Also appreciated is the Afterword where the author discusses the historical liberties taken. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of medicine. Thank you to Netgalley for the advance reader copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie U

    3.5 stars I received an ARC of The King's Anatomist for my honest review of the story. I rarely give 5 stars so 3-4 stars means that I enjoyed the book. This book is a historical fiction that follows Vesalius' best friend on a trip after his death to see where he was buried. The book is full of historical figures from the time period and I very much enjoyed that. I haven't read much about this time period so this was all new to me. The book is filled with thoughts as flash backs and letters from 3.5 stars I received an ARC of The King's Anatomist for my honest review of the story. I rarely give 5 stars so 3-4 stars means that I enjoyed the book. This book is a historical fiction that follows Vesalius' best friend on a trip after his death to see where he was buried. The book is full of historical figures from the time period and I very much enjoyed that. I haven't read much about this time period so this was all new to me. The book is filled with thoughts as flash backs and letters from the past. I very much enjoyed the inclusion of paintings and drawings from the past.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna Bull

    This was a such captivating story!! It immediately draws you into the world of 16th century Brussels and the life of Andreas Vesalius. Andreas Vesalius was familiar to me as the father of modern anatomy but I didn't know much else about his life. The story of his life is told through his closest friend Jan van den Bossche as he learns of Andreas' death following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Through Jan's memories we get to learn about Andreas and his passion for learning about the human body a This was a such captivating story!! It immediately draws you into the world of 16th century Brussels and the life of Andreas Vesalius. Andreas Vesalius was familiar to me as the father of modern anatomy but I didn't know much else about his life. The story of his life is told through his closest friend Jan van den Bossche as he learns of Andreas' death following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Through Jan's memories we get to learn about Andreas and his passion for learning about the human body and the publication of his famous book. It also highlights some of the difficulties he faced as he served several different monarchs. The world is brought to life so well, all of the descriptions of Andreas' work, the difficulty of travel during this time and the complexities of the political and religious climate make this such an immersive read. The journey that Jan undertakes along with his relationship with Anne Vesalius and the mystery around Andreas' death make for a truly wonderful story. This tale has so much to recommend it to anyone who loves the history of this time period as well as the history of one of the greats in science. A wonderful debut novel!!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Linda Haas

    I entered the giveaway for The King’s Anatomist on Goodreads because it was called a historical mystery novel. I love mysteries. This book, however, was so much more. This writer is a superb storyteller who transported me to the 1500s where this story takes place. The book is a work of fiction but it’s about Andreas Vesalius, who was a real person. The narrator is A close friend of Andreas and when he learns of his death feels compelled to visit his grave even though it is on a Greek island and I entered the giveaway for The King’s Anatomist on Goodreads because it was called a historical mystery novel. I love mysteries. This book, however, was so much more. This writer is a superb storyteller who transported me to the 1500s where this story takes place. The book is a work of fiction but it’s about Andreas Vesalius, who was a real person. The narrator is A close friend of Andreas and when he learns of his death feels compelled to visit his grave even though it is on a Greek island and he is a resident of Brussels. This was a very long arduous journey in the 1500s. The narrator tells the reader all about his friend Andreas and the reader meets other friends and places along the way. It is a long journey yet I was never bored. This book is very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Kennelly

    This new historical fiction is part mystery and part biography of the life of Andreas Vesalius (for Harry Potter fans, this name could be rendered in English as Andrew Weasley.) The story is well told and an exciting read. It is told through the eyes and recollections of his fictional best friend, a wealthy citizen of Brussels, Jan. Vesalius fame in his time was based on a textbook of anatomy for medical students. He presented some views on anatomy that were as shocking as those of his near cont This new historical fiction is part mystery and part biography of the life of Andreas Vesalius (for Harry Potter fans, this name could be rendered in English as Andrew Weasley.) The story is well told and an exciting read. It is told through the eyes and recollections of his fictional best friend, a wealthy citizen of Brussels, Jan. Vesalius fame in his time was based on a textbook of anatomy for medical students. He presented some views on anatomy that were as shocking as those of his near contemporaries Copernicus and Galileo on astronomy. The story is structured around Jan’s quest to visit the Greek island where he has been informed his friend died. On the way he recollects Vesalius interest in anatomy from the time he was a boy in school. Some of the ways the bodies were acquired are shocking today, described in enough detail to perhaps put off the squeamish. This continues through recollections of Vesalius life through publication of his textbook and the controversies it created to his final pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His death on the island occurs on his way back. When Jan arrives at Vesalius’ grave he discovers a mystery. This mystery is unraveled in a plausible fashion. To learn about this mystery you will have to read the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jean Roberts

    Reviewer’s Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The plot in brief: Jan van Den Bossche lives a quiet but interesting life, always in the shadow of his lifelong friend and personal hero, Andreas Vesalius. When word reaches him that his friend has died in far-off Zante, a Greek Island, Jan journeys from Brussels to pay his last respects. Along the arduous route, Jan wrangles with his complex feelings for the friend who pushed him to his limits yet robbed hi Reviewer’s Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The plot in brief: Jan van Den Bossche lives a quiet but interesting life, always in the shadow of his lifelong friend and personal hero, Andreas Vesalius. When word reaches him that his friend has died in far-off Zante, a Greek Island, Jan journeys from Brussels to pay his last respects. Along the arduous route, Jan wrangles with his complex feelings for the friend who pushed him to his limits yet robbed him of the woman he loved. Arriving at his destination, Jan uncovers a mystery which threatens to unravel everything he believes about his friendship with Andreas. The Characters: So well drawn are the characters they readily spring to life from the pages of this book. Jan, despite his timidity and dislike of travel, is resolute that he must undertake this personal pilgrimage to his friend's gravesite. Along the way he converses with Andreas in his mind and we come to know the man himself. Andreas is brave and impulsive, determined; he knows what he wants and takes it. One of the hardest things about writing historical fiction is creating believable characters that fit seamlessly into their world and Jan and Andreas are spot on. We see in both men their strengths and weaknesses and the ties that bind them even in death. The History: Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish anatomist and physician. He is considered the father of modern anatomy. I really enjoyed reading about his life and his questionable methods of procuring specimens to study. The author does an outstanding job of bringing his world to life. Layered over the daily life of Jan and Andreas are the religious wars and political machinations of the day. I never felt lost or overwhelmed by the details that helped flesh out the framework of the story. The Writing: The tightly scripted plot moves at a steady page-turning clip. Secrets are revealed as the lives of Jan and Andreas are stripped bare, surprising the reader at every turn. Fact and fiction are intertwined in the rich narrative of the story. Overall/Recommendation: I loved it! I highly recommend this book to lovers of great historical fiction, historical mysteries and readers interested in medicine and science. My rating: 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catherine - These, that’s & Prose

    Thank you @Netgalley and @historythroughfiction for this ARC copy in return for an honest review. Based on the life of controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius and narrated by his longterm friend reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche, it involves the shattering news of the death of a comrade and an Odyssey to discover what happened in the final months of his life. Pact with history, mystery and medical discovery, it ultimately leads to the uncovering that a dear friends passing, isn’t as st Thank you @Netgalley and @historythroughfiction for this ARC copy in return for an honest review. Based on the life of controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius and narrated by his longterm friend reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche, it involves the shattering news of the death of a comrade and an Odyssey to discover what happened in the final months of his life. Pact with history, mystery and medical discovery, it ultimately leads to the uncovering that a dear friends passing, isn’t as straight forward as it seems. I think the narrative style was bold, but well executed. You will either love it or find it prevents you from fully immersing yourself in the story. I personally really enjoyed it, it felt solid and intelligent and I think it was necessary, to establish what these characters meant to each other. Told through a combination of flashbacks and inner dialogue, almost letter like prose, it creates the pace of a perfect slow burner, to be read in front of a fire on a cold Autumn night. What also appealed to me , was the authors skill at the character driven scenes, so much so I couldn’t decide if the story was plot or character based The friendship between the two men was palatable, it certainly would have been a shame not to have experienced the depth of their connection and so again I was grateful for the writing style. I enjoyed the complex relationship between Anne and Jan also. I requested this book because I have a keen interest in anatomy and enjoy historical fiction and the book didn’t disappoint on either. It was evident that plenty of research went into the writing and now I’m on the hunt for books of a similar time period to scratch the itch. The Kings Anatomist is out 12/10/21 #TheKingsAnatomist #netgalley #arc

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel's Willful Thoughts

    Like medical students before him, Andreas Vesalius knew the Greek physician Galen set the standards as the final authority in medicine. However, Vesalius found himself questioning whether Galen’s observations regarding anatomy were correct. Author Ron Blumenfeld delves deep into the 16th century for the historical mystery titled The King’s Anatomist. At the beginning of the book, the author provides a timeline of milestones for Vesalius and a guide of historical figures appearing in the story. I Like medical students before him, Andreas Vesalius knew the Greek physician Galen set the standards as the final authority in medicine. However, Vesalius found himself questioning whether Galen’s observations regarding anatomy were correct. Author Ron Blumenfeld delves deep into the 16th century for the historical mystery titled The King’s Anatomist. At the beginning of the book, the author provides a timeline of milestones for Vesalius and a guide of historical figures appearing in the story. I found the guide to be especially helpful in navigating the characters and understanding their relevance. Additionally, there is a list of illustrations that appear throughout the book. All of this information, presented before even the first chapter, helps to showcase the book as having its roots in history. The beauty of historical fiction is being able to take those historical elements and use them to provide an engaging story. Using personal letters, the story unfolds with a mix of past and present. Of particular interest is Vesalius’s early adventures in the dissection of animals and the development of theories. The mystery aspect unfolds with an investigation into Vesalius’s death by one of his close friends, Jan. I found the story to be interesting, despite it being something I typically wouldn’t select. The author’s skill was evident in the development of the details. The King’s Anatomist sheds light on a little known piece of history. Title reviewed for Novels Alive

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Dowdy

    Finally got a chance to read The King’s Anatomist. Holy Roman Emperor, what a fascinating book! A doctor in his own right, Andreas Vesalius expands the world’s knowledge of human anatomy. One of the best things about this story is that it moves. The venture Jan, our first-person narrator and lifelong friend to Vesalius, makes to Greece (a Venetian island at the time) propels the story while illuminating the perils of travel even for someone of his great means. Surprisingly, in the early to mid-16 Finally got a chance to read The King’s Anatomist. Holy Roman Emperor, what a fascinating book! A doctor in his own right, Andreas Vesalius expands the world’s knowledge of human anatomy. One of the best things about this story is that it moves. The venture Jan, our first-person narrator and lifelong friend to Vesalius, makes to Greece (a Venetian island at the time) propels the story while illuminating the perils of travel even for someone of his great means. Surprisingly, in the early to mid-16th century people trekked often for pilgrimage. The times are very relatable to today, though our journeys have much less to do with faith. We call them vacations. Just as we yearn to discover, Vesalius couldn’t rest without pushing anatomy along to perfection. That’s the main thread of the book and the reader feels his progression like a grand solution to a great mystery, which it was. Vesalius overcame great odds to publish the first rigorous text of human anatomy. Forces of morality might have blocked him if not for his bravery. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, wielded enormous political power. But it was his commitment to uphold the rules of the Catholic church, including prohibition of human desecration, that threatened to stand in Vesalius’ way. To dissect a human to learn its anatomy was sacrilege, even for a physician to Charles V. To do so regardless took mighty courage. Merely acquiring cadavers for study wasn’t something one took on lightly. It was God’s privilege. By reading this well-written book, you will have the answers surrounding his audacity. Why was his quest so important? How did Vesalius avoid punishment? How did he become renown for anatomy? Side Notes: 1) This is history through fiction (the publisher’s name). The reader isn’t lectured history insufferably. You’re along for a pleasant journey. Will you learn history? Absolutely. And, by feeling the emotions of the characters as they experienced it, you will remember it! 2) It’s interesting how Europe has been international for so many centuries and that Spain overcame its past suffering under the Moors to take the lead for a time. 3) Secondary character Marcus blooms as a guiding soulmate to the first-person storyteller Jan. In fact, unshackled to his past and teeming with humility, he seems the epitome of humankind with its strengths and flaws. 4) Malta makes a short appearance in TKA. A few months ago, I reread The Maltese Falcon and found new interest in the fictitious small statue that was intended as a tribute to Charles V.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    I find it so interesting to read books that provide more insight into historical figures of the past. The way Blumenfeld writes this story was fluid, and did justice to the time period in my opinion. When Jan sets out to discover the truth behind his “best friend’s” death, the reader is given a path to follow that opens up more questions than answers and the MC must dive deeper and deeper into the life of Andreas. I especially loved the art & anatomy diagrams included in the book as well as the co I find it so interesting to read books that provide more insight into historical figures of the past. The way Blumenfeld writes this story was fluid, and did justice to the time period in my opinion. When Jan sets out to discover the truth behind his “best friend’s” death, the reader is given a path to follow that opens up more questions than answers and the MC must dive deeper and deeper into the life of Andreas. I especially loved the art & anatomy diagrams included in the book as well as the correspondence between the characters. I feel it added more depth and emotional connection.

  19. 4 out of 5

    CoffeeandInk

    A well-told tale that is one part coming-of-age story and one part on-the-road, as much of the main character’s remembrance of his childhood friend occur while he searches for him. Fascinating bits of Renaissance medicine as men of science finally begin to let go of Galenism. How printing presses changed things but how laborious they still were, all woven seamlessly into the story. An adventure but also a story about friendships and loyalty in the period leading up to the Enlightenment. And I lo A well-told tale that is one part coming-of-age story and one part on-the-road, as much of the main character’s remembrance of his childhood friend occur while he searches for him. Fascinating bits of Renaissance medicine as men of science finally begin to let go of Galenism. How printing presses changed things but how laborious they still were, all woven seamlessly into the story. An adventure but also a story about friendships and loyalty in the period leading up to the Enlightenment. And I love the epistolary elements here, also. Very interesting, very well written with a strong voice.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Annegret Mphahlele

    The book brought to life this important historical figure. It depicted the times in history and happenings how the would have affected him and his fellow people in richly painted surroundings and historical places

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren W

    Romance, humor, tragedy, geography, history; this novel has it all! The title may be a bit misleading; this book has almost NOTHING to do with anatomy. I laughed, I got choked up, I could not wait to turn the page, and yet, I didn't want it to end. The descriptions are vivid; I felt like I was living in the times and seeing the images. Great read! Romance, humor, tragedy, geography, history; this novel has it all! The title may be a bit misleading; this book has almost NOTHING to do with anatomy. I laughed, I got choked up, I could not wait to turn the page, and yet, I didn't want it to end. The descriptions are vivid; I felt like I was living in the times and seeing the images. Great read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy Bibace-Smith

    Very interesting read! Very different from anything I’ve read before and really enjoyed meeting the characters. I’m looking forward to a follow up!

  23. 5 out of 5

    alicia sargent

    This book skillfully blends history, mystery and relationships in a thoroughly engaging story about the life and the death of the famous sixteenth-century anatomist Andreas Vesalius. I was immersed in the period by the detailed descriptions of everyday life, travel, Renaissance anatomy, medicine and science, and the social and the political events of that time. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed the method of having Vesalius’ childhood friend, Jan, recount the life of Vesalius thro This book skillfully blends history, mystery and relationships in a thoroughly engaging story about the life and the death of the famous sixteenth-century anatomist Andreas Vesalius. I was immersed in the period by the detailed descriptions of everyday life, travel, Renaissance anatomy, medicine and science, and the social and the political events of that time. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed the method of having Vesalius’ childhood friend, Jan, recount the life of Vesalius through his remembrances and reflections while Jan makes his long journey from the Netherlands to a Greek island to uncover the circumstances around Vesalius’ untimely death. I appreciated the historical timelines at the beginning of the book as well as the author’s Afterword. I highly recommend this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Louise Gray

    This book is difficult to classify but I hope that won’t stop people from choosing it as it is fascinating, entertaining and educational. Is it a mystery? Yes. Is it historical fiction? Yes. Is it an exploration of medical practices? Yes. And all of this comes together in one remarkable book, With just the right level of detail, the reader is educated almost by stealth about the history of medicine and anatomy. The characters are more relatable that I expected, noting their complexity. Definitel This book is difficult to classify but I hope that won’t stop people from choosing it as it is fascinating, entertaining and educational. Is it a mystery? Yes. Is it historical fiction? Yes. Is it an exploration of medical practices? Yes. And all of this comes together in one remarkable book, With just the right level of detail, the reader is educated almost by stealth about the history of medicine and anatomy. The characters are more relatable that I expected, noting their complexity. Definitely a book to read, regardless of your usual genre of interest.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    The advance praise for the King's Anatomist had me hope for a well-researched but entertaining novel, and I was not disappoiónted. The book is written in the first person; the narrator being the fictional Jan van den Bossche, Vesalius' lifelong friend. Through Jan's reminiscences of Vesalius, there evolves the picture of an impetuous genius; an admired lecturer, an envied consultant of kings. Jan's narrative moves in the present as well as the past and, to my particular delight, includes many int The advance praise for the King's Anatomist had me hope for a well-researched but entertaining novel, and I was not disappoiónted. The book is written in the first person; the narrator being the fictional Jan van den Bossche, Vesalius' lifelong friend. Through Jan's reminiscences of Vesalius, there evolves the picture of an impetuous genius; an admired lecturer, an envied consultant of kings. Jan's narrative moves in the present as well as the past and, to my particular delight, includes many internal monologues, some humorous, some angry, directed at Vesalius. After a lively start to the story, entailing memories of entertaining as well as gruesome occurrences and adventures with Vesalius, as well as descriptions of his present life and state of health, the aging Jan begins his journey of loyal reverence to his friend's grave in faraway Zante. The journey depicts the dangers of travelling in 16th century Europe: uncomfortable travel on broken or muddied roads, filthy and sparse lodgings, bypassing scenes of war and pestilence. On the way, meeting up with old acquaintances, Jan gathers snippets of information and insights that are in stark dissonance with his knowledge of his lifelong best friend. Once Jan's final destination, Zante, has been reached, the story is driven forward rapidly to an astounding end. I found the novel compelling and entertaining, as well as educational. Its particular value to me was the focus on friendship and the understanding of the other in such a twosome. It made me ponder the fact that one can never fully know another person, no matter how close. I came to think that relationships are most often interpreted from a standpoint of one's own needs and gains. These are not necessarily material ones, but rather emotional, behavioral, and intellectual. Thus, friendships fulfill needs for emotional support, physical assistance, companionship, protection, and more, and the friend's nature is interpreted along these needs; there is no reason to look further. If one did, one might be, like Jan, sorely disillusioned. The book is richly illustrated; unfortunately, some of the illustrations in the digital edition are distorted in order to fit the page. I wish to thank Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate Eminhizer

    What a wonderful debut! The narrative style admittedly took some chapters to get used to as it isn't intuitive. In essence, Blumfeld interestingly chose to use the memories that his narrator, Jan van den Bossche, has on his journey to pay respects to his friend's final resting place as a means to deliver a biographical story of Andreas Vesalius. In summary, Vesalius was a radical in his day as his medical findings contradicted the accepted beliefs of medicine at the time. He embraced and encoura What a wonderful debut! The narrative style admittedly took some chapters to get used to as it isn't intuitive. In essence, Blumfeld interestingly chose to use the memories that his narrator, Jan van den Bossche, has on his journey to pay respects to his friend's final resting place as a means to deliver a biographical story of Andreas Vesalius. In summary, Vesalius was a radical in his day as his medical findings contradicted the accepted beliefs of medicine at the time. He embraced and encouraged the use of dissection on human corpses to fully understand human anatomy. Vesalius was a professor at the University of Padua and then the imperial physician in the court of Emperor Charles I. Blumfeld used the fictional lifelong friendship of the two to uncover a secret side to Vesalius. As van den Bossche discovers the truth about his friend he grapples with the enormity of the consequences of his friend's actions. Blumfeld disperses images throughout the text and it is magnificent! The cover itself is a reproduction of a portrait of Vesalius. I highly recommend this one due to its unique subject, its interesting style, and the use of visual components to truly engage the reader. I received a copy of this title via the publisher through NetGalley.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pop Pinto

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dora Schneider

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Anderson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jodi | Bibliostatic

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