FALSE AMBASSADOR by Christopher Harris.
False Ambassador is a circular journey through a world just emerging from the Middle Ages, forced by war and discovery into new ways of living and thinking.
The Renaissance. The dawn of modern civilisation? Or the last spasm of medieval brutality? Thomas Deerham, soldier and would-be scholar, has deserted from the English army in France. What should he aim for: wealth or wisdom? Pleasure or redemption? who can help him? Not the deserters and brigands that swarm over France. Barely human, they offer nothing but death and destruction.
In his search for a purpose, Thomas encounters fools and philosophers, friars and merchants, humanists and heretics. He is consoled by the Secrets of love, discovered in an old book, but his curiosity leads him to commit a terrible crime. Released from prison, he must begin a second quest: to save his soul. He goes to the East, where two faiths are fighting for the greatest city in the world. He endures defeat and slavery, but a surprising encounter in Rome seems to offer the hope of redemption.
..... From the outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (from the prologue): As we neared Venice, Brother Lodovico had a chest brought up from the hold.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: "As the lizard climbs," Plethon said, "it passes from one brick to another, gradually ascending the wall. That is the image of a man's soul."
Despite some very graphic and gory battle scenes and some scenes of a overtly sexual nature I found this novel a fascinating read. Very philosophical at times, we follow the adventure of Thomas, a young man destined for war .... or is he?
Full of a huge cast of wonderful characters, we get to meet all manner of humanity from Thomas himself whose journey begins with the meeting of a chaplain who despite being quite a roguish individual installs in Thomas a life-long thirst for knowledge through to Plethon, the oldest, wisest man in Christendom who bestows to Thomas a book.
Altogether a wonderful debut novel, my only real criticism being the lack of female characters, I highly recommend it as a good read though have to warn that it may prove rather difficult going for the first 50 or so pages due to the various acts of war that are portrayed.
False Ambassador was ex-library stock bought at a sale. No author information was available online.