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The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Fifteenth-century Spain is a richly multicultural society in which Jews, Muslims and Christians coexist. But under the zealous Christian Queen Isabella, the country abruptly becomes one of the most murderously intolerant places on Earth.

It is in this atmosphere that the Benvenistes, a family of scribes, attempt to eke out a living. The family has a secret-they are converso
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Annick Press (first published February 15th 2008)
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Edward Sullivan
Excellent historical fiction set during the Spanish Inquisition.
"Young boys
believe falcons are noble.
They are, after all,
kept by kings.

But here's how they train such a bird.
Tie its feet to a stick.
Strap leather blinders upon its poor eyes.
When these come off,
it has forgotten the whole notion of freedom."

Very well researched, and written entirely in verse, "The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A story of Medieval Spain" told a realistic and heart-wrenching story of persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Despite the poetic verse, the plot progressed rathe
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
When writing a historical novel, research is your friend, especially if you're not part of the specific cultures you're writing about. Multiple definitions of terms were wrong or not explained to their full extent.

The Inquisition was much larger than just Spain and Portugal and had already existed in Italy, where it also lasted until the late 19th century. The Inquisition also followed Jewish immigrants to the colonies, where the first Jewish immigrants to the New York colony in the 1600s were
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoad
I first read it when I was about 13 years old. Back then I didn't know much about Spain in the 15th century. But wow, this book opened my eyes. I could not believe what was happening. Ramon and Amir became friends over time and it was amazing to read about such a deep friendship that oversteps any boundaries, especially when it comes to religion. After finishing this book, I was so angry at humankind. How could we possibly do this to each other? It left me curios, though. This book practically b ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting and informative read. I am not usually a fan of lyrical novels but I found the style quite fitting for the content of the novel. The story also opened my eyes to the true extent of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. A must-read for fans of historical fiction.
Fifteenth-century Spain is one of the most enlightened cultures on record - one in which Jews, Muslims, and Christians coexist within an atmosphere of respect. Then the zealous Queen Isabella enacts policies that put an abrupt end to the peace. Violence, mistrust, and intolerance shadow everyone as the Spanish Inquisition takes shape. In this fear-filled atmosphere, fifteen-year-old scribe Ramon Benveniste must hide the family's secret. They are conversos: Jews converted to Christianity.

One day
Canadian Children's Book Centre
This is a haunting tale of two boys living in Spain during the dark and dangerous times of the Spanish Inquisition. The first, Ramon, is a scribe like his father. Together father and son eke out a meager living by lovingly, painstakingly copying the words of others. But paper, like so many things, grows scarcer with each passing day. Finding paper is particularly difficult for Ramon and his father because they are conversos, Christians whose ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity on pa ...more
Caitlin Perry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ashley Newell
I woke up this morning, wide awake, but not wanting to rise yet. So I decided that it was time to pull "The Apprentice's Masterpiece" off of the shelf. I thought I'd read a few pages, wanting to read this book but after discovering that the story was written not only in verse but actually broken up into small poems, I thought the flow would be forced, unnatural to me, and that it would be several days taking it one poem at a time before I'd mark this book as "read". Little did I know that I woul ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it liked it
I picked this up because it's in a setting I became familiar with through Guy Gavriel Kay's _Lions of Al-Rassan_: the Spanish Inquisition, just after the enlightened period of fifteenth-century Spain, when Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived together in peace.

The prologue explains the history in detail, which annoyed me at first. Why not simply incorporate all this into the story? Then I started reading the introductory (or so I thought) poem, and then I realized that the entire book was written
Melanie Au
Nov 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
It is 1485, and Ramon and his family, living in Cordoba, Spain, live in constant fear of arrest. The Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition is intently searching for those who are not strictly following the catholic faith. Refusing to eat pork, smiling at a virgin Mary statue, or changing into clean clothes at the end of the week could bring accusations of heresey, arrest, torture or death. Ramon's family were once Jewish, but now carefully follow all rules enforced by the Catholic church. Ramon ...more
This novel in verse follows two teen boys in 15th Century Spain. They are both scribes, apprentices to one’s father. The father and son are conversos, Jews who have converted to Christianity to avoid the Inquisition. The second teen, an Arabic Muslim, is brought home by the father, who wishes to learn Arabic writing from him. The times are bad for non-Christians, and the boys fight and fall out, and then travel around Spain, one working for the Inquisition as a scribe, the other as a slave, even ...more
Abby Johnson
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blogged
Ramon is the son of a scribe in fifteenth century Spain. His family are conversos - Jews that converted to Christianity generations ago but are still suspect under Queen Isabella's Inquisition. Amir is a Muslim slave, given to Ramon's father as a gift. As the story unfolds, Amir's and Ramon's stories will intertwine in ways they would never have predicted.

Rich with historical detail, this novel in verse shows the Spanish Inquisition through the eyes of two very different boys. A prologue and ep
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
The story takes place in Spain during the dark age of the inquisition. The protagonists are two teenage boys who where born into a life of hardship and cruelty.
This book sort of opened my eyes and awoke my interest for the hidden history behind the "tourist attractions".
It was a good decision to take this book along with me during my trip to Andalusia and somehow it became more to me than just a vacation-reading.
While walking through the streets of Córdoba and Malaga you get to see some of the a
Jul 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Historical fiction set in the Spanish Inquisition, a rare topic (although the same as Alice Hoffman's Incantation, which I think was also 2008?)

I agree with the other review that said having to give the history of the Inquisition before the book starts either says the novel isn't good enought to tell us or the subject is too hard for its potential audience to grasp.

Ultimately I thought it was an interesting exercise, but not as accessible as another historical novel in verse about a little know
Liza Gilbert
Who on earth thought this cover was enticing? And for a young adult book? Shame on you. Nothing says "blah" quite like a book cover done in shades of baby poo. Add a creepy bird and too-small text, and BAM! You've got a truly ugly cover. ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Great subject matter, but I feel as though the verse format robbed the story of any real emotion. It felt stilted an unnecessary. Unfortunate, because it's a great story, and I probably would've given it more stars. ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction about the Spanish Inquisition during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. A YA novel written in free verse, so it's a quick read! Shows that religious intolerance has been around for a long time...not limited to one creed or era. ...more
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, owned
I absolutely adore this book, and in my opinion the prose renders the story even more beautiful. The story has a nice flow and wonderful characters.
Holly Cote-Troupe
Intense and heart-breaking. These characters will stay with me for awhile.
Pamela J.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting and fairly quick, smooth read for verse. I liked how it depicted the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition through two young persons' points of view. ...more
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well written, but I feel like part of the story got lost when the narrators shifted from Ramon to Amir and then back again.
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was AMAZING, i loved it. i like the way that it is written in poem! it has some great quotes
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a really unique way of telling a story - I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
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May 04, 2012
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Nov 06, 2012
Jessica Strider
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Jan 26, 2018
Cooke Agency
rated it it was amazing
May 27, 2011
Margie Roberts
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Jan 23, 2012
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Melanie Little decided she wanted to be a writer roughly around the time she became conscious. Or, to be more exact, around the time she became conscious of words. Her first book, self-published when she was three years old, was about a family of bank robbers (though she called them "banque" robbers, proof, perhaps, of the bilingual nature of northern Ontario, where she grew up). The book was well ...more

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