Sadly, I found that I didn't. But two days with Mitchell James Kaplan's debut novel, By Fire, By Water has made me so energized to learn more about this time period, that I'm scrambling for additional knowledge.
The History I Should Know More About
The Inquisition was a tribunal set by the Roman Catholics for uncovering heresy, and which initially started during the medieval time period in France. It subsequently made its way to Spain in the late 1400s, and focused on Jews and New Christians. Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand petitioned the Pope to establish the tribunals and Inquisition, and once approved, the beginning of a period of sadness began, with the eventual expulsion of all Jews in 1492 from Spain.
|Luis de Santángel|
Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada is in control of rooting out all heretics, and employing through the secular world the many implements of torture that we have heard about from that time: the rack, the whippings, and other "methods." When a close friend to Santángel's group is selected and tortured for months to receive "confessions," and subsequently dies, Santángel does what he feels he must do to protect his only family left from any accusations.
In the Kingdom of Granada, located then at the southern part of Spain, Judith Migdal, is a young Jewish woman who has taken on her brother's trade as a silversmith after his death. Realizing that she must continue this trade will also require her to read and write, and she does so in order to communicate with potential clients far from her home. Her path is arduous and fascinating to watch as she exhibits a strength and intelligence that will help her and her family to survive, day by day. She's also caught Santángel's eye on one of his recent trips to Granada on behalf of the King and the Queen, and his continued reflection of his grandfather's faith and his new faith deepen even more.
There are so many characters that I absolutely loved, and some that I completely and thoroughly despised because of their participation in such a sordid event. All, though, are plagued with an internal battle of right and wrong, and some deal with it in an honest and ethical manner in the spirit of ultimate discussion and the meeting of the minds, while some betrayed the very nature of humanity and instead became a vile part of history.
Mitchell James Kaplan has done what incredible historical fiction does best -- he has centered a story around a monumental event in history, attached to it etched in time real people, and crafted a meaningful and captivating tale of life in the late 14th century. There is terror, betrayal, love, and most especially, loss.
And my heart absolutely broke in two at the end. I highly recommend this book and am excited to read more from this author.
________________________________________________________________________________________Visit the author's site by clicking here.
To learn more about the Inquisition, click here.
FTC Disclosure: I received the book from the author through Other Press/Random House.
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