Endymion Spring

by Matthew Skelton

Paperback, 2008

Call number



Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2008), Edition: Reprint, 392 pages


Having reluctantly accompanied his academic mother and pesky younger sister to Oxford, twelve-year-old Blake Winters is at loose ends until he stumbles across an ancient and magical book, secretely brought to England in 1453 by Gutenberg's mute apprentice to save it from evil forces, and which now draws Blake into a dangerous and life-threatening quest.

Media reviews

With all this in its favour, then, why didn't Endymion Spring fire me with the same enthusiasm that apparently triggered "one of the fiercest bidding wars in children's publishing"? I suppose the answer lies in how the story's told. This is a book that promises much. There are some undeniably
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intriguing ideas, but it is the back story that is far more gripping and tightly written.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member tasha
The book flashes back and forth between modern-day Oxford and fifteenth century Germany. Readers get to meet Endymion Spring, a boy who discovers Faust's secret of dragon-skin paper that has magical properties and has the power to allow readers to read every book ever written. Readers also get to
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know Blake, an American boy whose mother is studying in Oxford. Blake is left at some of the top libraries in Oxford to amuse himself along with his younger sister Duck. One day, he discovers a strange book bound in brown leather that at first appears to be blank. It is this book of Endymion Spring that will lead him on a wild adventure around Oxford.

This book is fascinating from the historical details of Endymion's life to the glory of the hidden side of the Oxford libraries. It is a novel for those of us who love books, who are often taken away by the mysteries we find inside and the wonder of what could be found there. The characters are well-rounded and complex as are their relationships with those around them. The adults around the characters are flawed and complicated people themselves. Once the reader is captured by the mystery of both the modern story and the historical one, the book is nearly impossible to put down. The climax is both stunning and gratifying.

Offer this one to both children and adults to read. Just make sure they love books. This one is a winner.
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LibraryThing member tapestry100
Endymion Spring is first and foremost a book about a book. It follows two concurrent stories, one about the creation of a book hundreds of years ago, and the other a modern day mystery surrounding the location of the book. From a graphic designer's viewpoint, the book is visually well constructed,
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as each chapter deals with one or the other time period, and the pages of each chapter reflect a different look and feel; the change is subtle and you don't even realize that it is happening until about half way through the book, which I felt was a very clever technique.

The 2 stories themselves aren't much, but when you start to realize how one story is affecting the other, and they begin to weave together, you are left with a well constructed story that has a nice, tidy ending. This book follows a popular trend today, where actual historical facts are looked at from the new point of view of the author, and some adjustments are made to create an entirely new story. In this case, some unexplained mysteries concerning Gutenberg, and some legends concerning Fust/Faust are intermingled into the story to help create the mystery of the book. Sometimes, other authors do not handle these plot points very well, seeming more to force the connections to make the story move along, but Skelton uses them deftly in his plot, not forcing them on the reader, but keeping them more as the mystery/legend that they are to help the mystique of his story. Overall, a well crafted, neatly written book and an exceptional debut novel for Matthew Skelton.
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LibraryThing member booksandbosox
This was rather disappointing. Parallel stories about the making of a truly unique book in Mainz in the 1400s I believe and a young boy in Oxford in the present day. The stories connect through the extraordinary book known as "Endymion Spring." I love books about books, especially ones with a bit
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of mystery but this was really just a let-down. I didn't find anything about it particularly interesting and it wasn't compelling either. I'm also a little annoyed by the overly cutesy nicknames in kids books and I especially don't appreciate the notion that once a kid's life is in danger, his previously splintered family will once again be whole. It doesn't always work that way! It wasn't totally terrible but I just expected more.
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LibraryThing member Mendoza
THis book had so much hype when it was released. And I was dissappointed in the end.

From a library review: In 1452, a young printers devil toils for his master, Herr Gutenberg, who is in the process of printing a Bible. On a suitably dark and cold night, sinister Johann Fust arrives at Gutenbergs
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shop with a mysterious wooden chest decorated with dragons and serpents heads. In a parallel story set at Saint James College in Oxford in the present day, Blake, a professors son, discovers a wordless book with the title Endymion Spring, which was the printers devils name. The narrative goes back and forth connecting the stories as they go. Very good idea and I was all for it.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn't very intrigued by the "book", and I enjoyed the medieval back story more than I did main contemporary times story. The boy Blake was just to whiney and his sister was just too much of a pain in the butt. I just found them to be flat characters - they didn't hold my interest.
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LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
It's an interesting read but somehow it just isn't enough, it could be a great book but it ends up only being a good book. The best part of the story is the typography and the way the older story in Mainz and the newer story in Oxford is treated.

Readable but nothing great, unfortunately. I would
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read more by this author in the hope that the author would improve with time.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
Disapointing to find a book with so much potential which lives up to that potential so poorly. Many inventive, fascinating ideas, but Skelton just isn't a good enough writer to bring his ideas to the page very well. Had Philip Pullman written the same story it could have been a classic.
LibraryThing member ethelmertz
I really enjoyed listening to this book. It is an engaging story and very smart. I'm glad Skelton didn't underestimate the young adult audience; this is the kind of story I'd normally expect for an older audience.
LibraryThing member gbartlett
Endymion Spring is a young man working for Johann Gutenberg in Germany in 1492 when he is inventing his printing press. Johann Fust came to visit and in his possession he had a book - a magic book. The pages were made of dragon skin and it contained secret knowledge of past, present,and future.
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Endymion Spring opens the book and takes a few of the magic pages.

600 years later, Blake Winters finds these pages in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. He can read the riddles contained in the book, but to others, including his sister, Duck, the pages are blank. Blake learns that there is another book - The Last Book and the two parts must be joined. He and his sister decide they must find the Lost Book and return the lost pages, but others in the library world are also searching for the book. The book tells Blake that there is a Person in Shadow who will try to kill him to get the pages. Is it Professor Jolyon Fall, the book expert; Sir Giles Bentley, the book collector; Psalmanazer, the homeless man; or Diana Bentley, Sir Gile's wife. Some of these characters seem to be helping Blake and Duck but can they be trusted?

Great mystery! Both boys and girls would like it. Flashbacks are well marked.
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LibraryThing member sirfurboy
I picked this book up in a second hand bookshop. I don't remember seeing it on a display anywhere before, which is odd considering how good it is. This is one of those young adult adventures that could be enjoyed by people older (and indeed, younger) than its intended readership.

Endymion Spring is
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a mute assistant to the great Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable type printing press (although the notes in the book give some additional background to that claim). However Gutenberg goes into business with Johann Fust, who has something more diabolical in mind - and thus causes a chain of events that leads to Oxford. Here there are two American children, Blake and Duck, visiting with their mother who is involved in research of the Faust of literature. When a strange book bites Blake in the library, events unfold that span the centuries and lead to a wonderful, mysterious and sometimes terrifying adventure.

This book is fast paced, with good prose and dialogue and a story that had me hooked more or less from the start. It is a book about books, which is always a good one for hooking avid readers. But it is also a book about a boy who is not so keen on books. Maybe that part of teh story does not quite work - but you do feel that Blake is pretty much your average 12 year old, albeit stuck in an odd academic background that he resents.

I liked the interplay in the family. Duck is the annoying perfect little sister. But she is also Blake's friend, and it becomes clear that they love each other despite their normal sibling rivalries. The adults also are not just piece players in this book, but have their own unfolding story.

But ultimately this book is about the mystery: who was Endymion Spring? And what was his legacy?

This is a book I would be happy to recommend to young adults and adults alike. A satisfyingly spooky read.
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LibraryThing member janetvisser
Endymion Spring is a fast-paced adventure, part mystery, part fantasy set in present-day Oxford with flashbacks to 15th century Germany.

Endymion Spring, the title character, is the mute apprentice to Johannes Gutenberg, living in Mainz, Germany in 1452.The story begins when the mysterious Mr. Fust
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arrives in the dead of night with an enormous carved chest and money to invest in Gutenberg's printing press. The young boy eventually discovers that the chest is full of strange, enchanted paper, whose words only he can read. He steals a bit of the paper which forms itself into a book, and runs for his life before Fust can discover what he has done.

Fast forward to Oxford, where 12 year old Blake is living with his academic mother and annoying little sister, wishing the whole family was back in America with his father. While waiting for his mother in the Bodleian Library, he comes across a strange blank book and soon discovers that he is surrounded by adults who are searching for the very same volume.

This is an entertaining read for 9-12 year olds. While the supporting characters are a little one-dimensional,and Blake seems to have an unbelievable amount of freedom,the action is fast-paced, and readers can identify with Blake's feelings of not fitting into his world. The flashbacks deliver a bit of history about the printing press while laying the groundwork for the present-day mystery, and the descriptions of the Oxford make it a place anyone would like to explore.

This is author Matthew Skelton's first novel. A native of Edmonton, he earned his doctorate at Oxford and wrote Endymion Spring while looking for work. It generated alot of excitement when it was eventually discovered and published, and its success has allowed Skelton to dedicate himself to writing full-time. His next novel is due for release in March 2010.
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LibraryThing member BernadeneC
If you like Dragons, Magic and History this is the book for you. This book is set in two time periods. The history section is set in Herr Gunternberg's time and the present is set in Oxford University. How do the two earas join? A wordless book, with dragon skin pages, comes to words when the right
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person holds the book. The adventure of the apprentice boy who goes to Oxford and the modern day hero meet in the Oxfor University. A good read for young adults, espically boys. Two thumbs up.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
Unfortunately, the description of this book seemed to be more intriguing than the story itself. I'd seen a good review of this book a few years ago & was anxious to obtain a copy, which I did, & then it sat on my bookshelf for a while. Finally delved into it & when all was said & done, I was
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disappointed. It sounded promising, involving a mysterious trunk, opened only when "the fangs of its serpent-head clasp taste blood." Inside the trunk is a magical type paper, made of dragon skin. The book alternates between time periods, and centuries later, a young boy in Oxford discovers a book that when touched, pierces his finger. Thus begins a quest to discover the book's secret. I suppose I need to keep in mind that this was written for a young audience. However, the ending felt unsatisfactory to me, and I would expect it might be the same for a young reader. As a sidenote, I listened to this on audio, which included an author "interview" at the end, which I found incredibly annoying & could've done without.
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LibraryThing member paulavev
Made from the skin of an ancient dragon and hidden deep in the labyrinth of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Endymion Spring—the mythical book of all knowledge—has finally chosen its keeper: an unsuspecting young American boy named Blake Winters. Protagonist Blake and his little sister Duck spend
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their days in the cavernous British library while their mother works on her latest paper. One fateful day, Blake is literally bitten by the enigmatic book, immersing him into the adventure of a lifetime. Skelton artfully creates an entertaining story chocked full of suspense, intrigue, historical fiction, and fantasy. Segmented into 26 moderate-length chapters, readers travel back and forth through time and place as the plights of Blake and Duck mirror those of Johannes Gutenberg’s young apprentice, Endymion, who’s body and soul were literally merged with the book over 500 years before. Descriptive language and eloquent literary conventions convey vivid impressions of sites, sounds, and smells throughout the well-developed plot. Though middle-level readers may struggle with the relatively advanced vocabulary, a preponderance of context clues coupled with clearly articulated dialog and a variety of organizational cues (table of contents, chapter titles with location information, brief summary when shifting among time eras) enhance comprehension. With its superb marriage of mystical power, fantastic responsibility, and the tribulations of a typical adolescent boy, this dramatic novel transcends age groups and may appeal to even the most reluctant readers.
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LibraryThing member A_Reader_of_Fictions
I picked this book up, because, as a librarian, it is rather a prerequisite to enjoy metafiction, books about books. This has at times betrayed me (ex. The Grand Complication incident), but often works out in my favor, as with Endymion Spring. The weaving of the sections set in the past (1453 with
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Endymion Spring) and the present (Blake) is done expertly. The book conveys a true love of libraries and of books themselves. It does a marvelous job also of blending fantasy and historical fiction, weaving magic into a tale with a basis in truth. The characters are a bit one dimensional, but still likable (particularly Duck with her yellow raincoat and curiosity). I recommend this book to lovers of metafiction (people who liked Inkheart, I'm talking, or typing, to you).
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LibraryThing member Sheila1957
Magnificent! I loved it. The story drew me in. The book picked the boy to bring it to life and to bring it to its end. There was action and adventure along with some history of Johann Gutenberg and his printing press. There is the madness of adults who want the book for the knowledge and power it
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gives. This is one of those rare books that stays with you. It opens your imagination to what you would do if you got this book. I loved Blake as he tries to discover the secret of the book and figure out the clues that appear to him in the book. I also enjoyed the story of the blank book. I enjoyed going back to Endymion Spring in the mid-1400's to learn how the book came to be but I especially enjoyed Blake taking the book and the clues and trying to figure out what he was to do. One of my top 10 reads!
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LibraryThing member lkmuir
Having reluctantly accompanied his academic mother and pesky younger sister to Oxford, twelve-year-old Blake Winters is at loose ends until he stumbles across an ancient and magical book, secretely brought to England in 1453 by Gutenberg's mute apprentice to save it from evil forces, and which now
Show More
draws Blake into a dangerous and life-threathening quest.
Show Less




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