The Physician

By Noah Gordon,

Book cover of The Physician

Book description

Rob Cole, a penniless orphan in 11th-century London, is possessed by a mysterious power - he can sense death. A mere apprentice, he dreams of controlling the forces of life and death, of mastering the knowledge that will earn him the title of physician.

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Physician as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

What drew me to it was the fascinating interaction between the main character and his physician tutors as he learned how to become a healer from some of the most talented scientific minds of the time.

There are so few books about the early Middle Ages that are a) not horrendously violent, and b) not about the English battling someone, that I found this perspective, about a young man who travels on foot to Persia in disguise, to be refreshing.

It’s a long, satisfying read and the first in a trilogy. This book is really popular in Spain and was…

The Physician is exciting, imaginative, and easy to read.

Noah Gordon describes places, people, and treatments of the 2nd century so vividly that you feel as you were there. Not only do you see the individual characters in front of you, but you hear their screams and smell the general stench of excrement, dirt, and sweat that a medieval city brought with it.

In addition, one experiences the spatial confinement in which one lived at that time, virtually on one's own body. I especially liked the part set in the Orient, where the Middle Ages and the exotic are combined…

The reporting and research in The Physician is extraordinary, something I, as a reporter, deeply admire.

It is truly a work of great scholarship about a young man in 11th-century England who travels to Persia, where he learns medicine that is far more advanced than that available in Europe. Not only did I learn how advanced Persia was at the time, but the story itself was so gripping I couldn’t put it down.

The Physician was one of the most exceptional books I have read on the middle ages. I love historical fiction, and I was sucked into this book from page one. Noah takes us through the life of Rob J, a young boy who teams up with a barber-surgeon during the 11th century. For someone who is well-schooled on this time in history, I can honestly say that this book was on point with every historical fact. Please read this book. You won’t be sorry.

Clocking in at over seven hundred pages, this is the longest book to have remained interesting from cover to cover. It charts the fortunes of Robert Cole from post-Roman London to Persia in his quest to become a doctor by attending a majority Muslim university. To do so he risks his life to cross continents and assume a new identity. 

This novel takes you through deserts, wars, plagues, and the brutally fickle court of the Shah, all through the eyes of a man gifted with the power to sense death itself. The protagonist makes difficult choices and survives not only…

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