Aimee's Reviews > By Fire, by Water

By Fire, by Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
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's review
Dec 14, 2011

really liked it
Read on December 14, 2011

Luis de Santangel is Chancellor to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, he has worked hard to climb his way to to this postion, his ancestors were Jewish converts to Christianity. Being a convert to Christianity meant his belief in Jesus is constantly questioned, especially during this time of the Spanish Inquisition. Santagel watches as those around him, including his family, are arrested and tortured all in the name of Christianity. He begins to really look at the questions he has about his faith and beliefs. During this time of questioning he meets the intelligent and beautiful Judith Migdal, a Jewish woman who shows him a different kind of life. He also meets Christopher Columbus who needs his help in his plans to discover a new route to wealth.

I was really impressed by this book. Kaplan's writing is wonderful to read and the amount of research he put into writing this book can be seen in all of the information and details given throughout the story. I learned a lot about the Spanish Inquisition, a part of history I really did not know much about. I also learned a lot about what Jews were facing at this time and the difficulties that people had even after they converted to Christianity. It seemed no one was safe and many lived in fear of torture and death.

Luis de Santangel was a great character to read about. He was complex, intelligent, and always questioning himself, it made for a fascinating read. I also enjoyed reading about Judith and the issues she faced. I wish there could have been more of the book with Santangel and Judith together.

This is a very impressive first book by Mitchell James Kaplan. I enjoyed both the history I learned and the story of Santagel. I would recommend it to any historical fiction fan, it is a wonderful novel.
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