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About The Book

Christopher Buckley’s “hilarious, bawdy, and irreverent frolic of a tale” about a sixteenth-century relic hunter and the artist Albrecht Dürer who conspire to fabricate Christ’s burial shroud reads “like Indiana Jones gone medieval” (USA TODAY).

The year is 1517. Dismas is a relic hunter who procures “authentic” religious relics for wealthy and influential clients. His two most important patrons are Frederick the Wise and soon-to-be Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz. While Frederick is drawn to the recent writing of Martin Luther, Albrecht pursues the financial and political benefits of religion and seeks to buy a cardinalship through the selling of indulgences. When Albrecht’s demands for grander relics increase, Dismas and his artist friend Dürer fabricate a shroud to sell to the unsuspecting noble. Unfortunately Dürer’s reckless pride exposes the trickery, so Albrecht puts Dismas and Dürer in the custody of four mercenaries and sends them all to steal Christ’s burial cloth (the Shroud of Chambéry), Europe’s most celebrated artifact. On their journey to Savoy where the Shroud will be displayed, they battle a lustful count and are joined by a beautiful female apothecary. It is only when they reach their destination they realize they are not alone in their intentions to acquire a relic of dubious legitimacy.

“A rollicking good time, Christopher Buckley has transported his signature wit and irreverence from the Beltway to sixteenth-century Europe in The Relic Master” (GQ). This epic quest, “as rascally and convivial as any that Mr. Buckley has written” (The Wall Street Journal), is filled with fascinating details about art, religion, politics, and science; Vatican intrigue; and Buckley’s signature wit “holds the reader till the very last page” (The New York Times Book Review).

About The Author

Photograph by Katy Close

Christopher Buckley is a novelist, essayist, humorist, critic, magazine editor, and memoirist. His books include Thank You for SmokingThe Judge HunterMake Russia Great Again, and The Relic Master. He worked as a merchant seaman and White House speechwriter. He was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (December 8, 2015)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501125782

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Raves and Reviews

"An inspired piece of literary gymnastics [that] tumbles into an exuberant adventure caper. . . so tightly written that it holds the reader till the very last page. . . . a smart, tart, well-researched romp into one of history’s most irresistibly grubby and outrageous periods of excess.”

– New York Times Book Review

"We may be in 1517, but this is still a political send-up, and it’s as rascally and convivial as any that Mr. Buckley has written."

– The Wall Street Journal

“Buckley hasn’t abandoned political satire at all — he’s just found a different playing field for his favorite sport. The calamitous 16th century proves a supple mistress for this Washington writer…. lively, entertaining and occasionally educational.”

– Washington Post

"Might be pitched Hollywood-style as The Princess Bride meets Ocean's XIII."

– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A humorous and enchanting adventure.”


"A madcap heist adventure...that’s as comical as any in Buckley’s modern era tales. Buckley’s many fans will be pleased."

– Booklist

"This historical novel is part Monty Python and part Ocean's 11. The clever narrative is filled with laugh-out-loud one-liners but, amazingly, doesn't stint on the suspense.... Through the cheeky humor, the author gives readers a very real sense of the early 16th century, when science and superstition held equal sway, and a man was always a swordsbreadth away from a horrible death."

– Publishers Weekly

“Christopher Buckley has transported his signature wit and irreverence from the Beltway to sixteenth-century Europe in The Relic Master. Think of it as Monty Python and the Holy Grail meets Pawn Stars, which is to say it's hilarious, absurd, and mildly infuriating (in a good way). You really can’t go wrong when one of America’s savviest humor writers takes on relic-mongers, artifact forgeries (about that Shroud of Turin . . .), and corrupt religious leaders. In short, The Relic Master is a rollicking good time set in an era just begging for Buckley’s biting satire.”

– GQ

“A witty, deft and often surprisingly big-hearted pleasure….Buckley is one of America’s wiliest satirists.”

– Seattle Times

"Beguiling, funny, and slyly erudite."

– National Review

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