By Fire, by Water

By Fire, by Water

A Novel

Book - 2010
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Luis de Santangel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomas de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend's demise brings the violence close to home, Santangel takes retribution into his own hands, though the risk is great. Santangel is from a family of conversos, and his Jewis heritage makes him an easy target. Soon, he finds himself implicated in the murder of the first Chief Inquisitor of Aragon and in possession of a mysterious text that has spelled death for Jews for centuries. As he witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewis woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he'd lost ... the chance to hope for a better world. Chistopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santangel can help him.
Publisher: New York : Other Press, c2010
Description: 284 p. : map ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9781590513521
Branch Call Number: Kapl


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Jun 07, 2012

Kaplan brings to life the fear and bigotry of this time period, inserting enough historical detail to give the reader a sense of medieval life. His characterization of Torquemada as a menacing obsessive is marvelous, as is the visual drama of life in different echelons of 15th century Spanish society. I found the exploration of the necessity of questioning one’s real faith vs. traditional faith fascinating.

Apr 28, 2011

I was prepared to like this book. I truly was. Kaplan covers a lot of ground and has clearly done so by conducting vast amounts of research on his subjects: Christopher Columbus, Isabella & Ferdinand, the New Inquisition and the expulsion of Spain's Jewish population. It felt to me, though, as if he has written this book only to sell the movie rights. The writing, while precise, is bloodless. I wanted very much to connect more deeply with Luis de Santangel and Judith Midgala, but I found I could not. Kaplan writes (cinematographically, as his background perhaps dictates) in short bursts of 200 and 300 words, with quick cuts to other scenes, which left me feeling distant from the characters. I wanted more than this book afforded.

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