Ismail Elshareef's Reviews > Angel Time

Angel Time by Anne Rice
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Oct 27, 11

Read in November, 2009

Toby O'Dare is an assassin by choice. After suffering a harrowing ordeal in his birth city of New Orleans, he took off to New York where he got to learn about his insatiable appetite for ending lives. Such appetite drew attention from a man whom Toby grew to call, The Right Man, who fed Toby's hunger for murder and loved him all in the same measure.

Toby is twenty-eight years old and was in the process of becoming a Dominican priest back in New Orleans. Before his macabre career took off, he was an exemplary child to a drunkard of a mother, whom he took care of restlessly, and a caring older brother to his siblings, whom he loved endlessly. In his senior year at Jesuit High, Toby fell in love with Liona--a Jewish girl that attended a nearby prep school. They were deeply in love; a love that Toby managed to sabotage.

Everything changed when left to New York.

Though he has become an impressive and adroit murderer, Toby never really gave up praying. And one night, at a moment of great despair, he prayed for an Angel of God to help and guide him.

Low and behold, an angel called Malchiah (interestingly similar to the Arabic word for angels malaika) descends and offers Toby an opportunity to redeem himself even after all the deaths he's caused. Broken and eager for redemption, Toby agrees to do whatever Malchiah asks of him and so the Malchiah takes him back in time to 13th century England.

Toby's mission is to use his intelligence and skills to help the Jewry of Norwich, England, survive an impending catastrophe that is upon them. He was sent back in time as a Dominican priest or frair (from the French word frère meaning brother) to resolve a volatile situation in which the Christians of Norwich accuse a Jewish family of murdering their own daughter after her alleged conversion to Christianity. What follows is an eye-opening narrative of the state of the Jewry in Europe and religious relations in the Medieval times.

What I found fascinating about this book was Toby himself. His character was very well developed with all its complexity and conflicts. The other fascinating thing was the history of the Jewry in 13th century England and the societal dynamics of that time.

Although not her best, Angel Time is still a good historical read. It's a little preachy and contrived at times, but that didn't bother me that much. I was completely taken by the Christian and Jewish relations at that time and how much they were governed by rigid religious beliefs, myths and hate. Sounds familiar?

The historical narrative made the book for me and for that alone I recommend it.
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