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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,635 ratings  ·  393 reviews
From Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning Jo Walton comes Lent, a magical re-imagining of the man who remade fifteenth-century Florence—in all its astonishing strangeness

Young Girolamo’s life is a series of miracles.

It’s a miracle that he can see demons, plain as day, and that he can cast them out with the force of his will. It’s a miracle that he’s friends with P
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Tor
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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,635 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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Jo Walton
Sep 17, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I think it's pretty good, but it's hard for me to judge.

Here's a link to some illustrations.


Also, I LOVE the cover. I don't know what I did recently to get so lucky with covers, but this one is fabulous.
Spencer Orey
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing and thoughtful book with some epic twists. I always have really high expectations about new Jo Walton books, and this one still blew me away.

As in, this bizarre book that twists together a bunch of famous priests and scholars in Renaissance Florence with some fantasy elements, made me stay up way too late to find out what would happen next. I had no idea I could find this kind of thing so fascinating, but I did.

And on top of all that, Walton is always so good at weaving in politics and
Sherwood Smith
Jun 03, 2019 added it
Shelves: fantasy
Though this book is written within the framework of Roman Catholicism of the 1400-1500s, it is not a Catholic book. It is a book celebrating Renaissance humanism.

A quick note laying down my understanding here.

Renaissance Humanism was not a philosophy. It was a cultural phenomenon flowering around the rediscovery of the classics. It was not antithetical to Christianity as it was developed, and celebrated, within the vast and lapidary complexity of Christian theology and mythology, but as far as I
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
Groundhog Day by way of 15th century Florence. This is not my usual pick, but it turned out to be an excellent read for me. Walton's prose is so practiced and conversational, and kept me wanting to pick it up to see what would happen next...or again. ...more
Dawn F
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third Jo Walton novel, she’s quickly become one of my favorite writers whose whole body of work I plan on reading because wow, does she know how to draw you into a story *fast*, and she doesn’t let go.

I’m a little shaken by this one. Going in I didn’t know anything about the Italian friar, preacher and politician Girolamo Savonarola. He claimed to be able to see the future as told to him directly by God, and he worked hard to rid the Church of corruption, establishing a sort of republ
Julie Davis
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How do I write about this book? It feels like a work of genius and I am badly in need of someone to discuss a few things with. However, until I have a friend who has also read it, this inadequate review will have to do.

The book description tells the story just adequately enough to give you a sense of the atmosphere without spoiling the story. The main character, devout and talented priest Girolamo, can see demons and cast them into Hell. He's got the gift of prophecy. He is also a most appealing
Lany Holcomb
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wish-list
I have no idea how Jo Walton concocted such an amazingly brilliant and original story, but "Lent" is one of the best books I have read in 2019. 15th century Christianity, demons, Hell, and metaphysics all come together in this absolutely remarkable story set during Renaissance Italy. Follow this tale of absurdity and piety and find yourself in worlds separate from our own and what it means to truly "know thyself". ...more
Elizabeth Morgan
This book is a Venn Diagram of People Who Like Jo Walton's Novels, People Who Like Historical Fantasy Fiction, People Who Like Medieval Theology, and People Who Like Humanism, and I am firmly at the centre. ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
My line of impressive books doesn't seem to break off.

"Lent" is another example of intelligent writing, interesting structure and skillful prose. The very end felt too unimposing for the expectation the rest of the book had created in me, that's why it is 4 instead of 5 stars.

The novel narrates the later life of Savonarola, the Florentine 15th century ecclesiastical reformer. I half and half remembered his name from my school history classes yet with a more negative connotation. Walton describes
I found this a tough book to get through, and not because the writing is bad or complicated. I’ve read other books by Jo Walton (and I’m a fan of her work) that I’ve had no trouble sailing through.
The writing in this book is good, but I was just not that interested in much of Girolamo’s story for the first 40-45% of this book. Then suddenly, I became invested in the narrative. Though I found much of the talk about harrowing hell and the machinations between the various similar Christian orders
Oleksandr Zholud
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is SF/fantasy/historic/philosophic novel by one of the greatest but underappreciated SF authors of today, Jo Walton. I read is as a part of monthly reading for April 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group.

The book consists of two parts, each roughly half of the novel. The first part is a biography of Girolamo Savonarola (1452 –1498), a real life Italian Dominican friar from Ferrara, who actively preached Florence. He was known for his prophecies and his calls for Christian renew
Peter Tillman
This is a strange novel, that starts out as a fictionalized biography of Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican Friar who lived in Florence in the late 15th century. You can read an outline of his biography, and period history -- but it would be best to wait until after you read the book, to avoid “spoilers” — if actual history can be a spoiler. Anyway, like many, I had a dimly remembered low opinion of Savonarola — but he turns out to have been a pretty good guy, for a Renaissance religious mystic. H ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Original 2019 review: Although I haven't read as much as usual this year, I've been fortunate to read some really wonderful books, like this, which is beautiful and tremendous and deeply spiritual and kind of perfect for the way I've been feeling lately. Another A Tale for the Time Being in that it's a spot on book for this time in my life.

2022 re-reading review: Gah, this book is just so beautiful. (view spoiler)
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Girolamo Savanarola is a real figure from Renaissance Italian history, and this book tells the tale of his life, assuming that the Catholic theological conception of the world is literally true. So we get Girolamo seeing and dispelling demons, experiencing miracles and generally doing all the things he really did in Florence besides. But Girolamo isn't who he thinks he is, and there's more to his world than he knows, as he gets to experience it over and over again.

The elavator pitch for this is
Started Thursday evening after a disappointing showing on my certification exam: Reader, I failed it. A pleasant historical work about a real person, only with demons being real. The dragon I kept expecting, based, no doubt, on a misreading of a review, did not ever appear. As much as I respect her dragons, they weren't missed.
So first half is Sharon K Penman sort of thing about Renaissance Florence, a topic about which I knew nothing. I was digging it, but not unable to put it down Friday to go
Oct 29, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 intriguing and unique plot but not quite my thing. Thought it would be with the very intriguing blurb but while it's well written and does deliver what it promised it didn't quite work for me ...more
It seems like every year there’s a book that I want to beg people to read because I struggle to describe it, and it’s nothing like what they’d expect. This year, it’s this book.

It’s beautiful. It’s delightful and unusual and quietly profound. It’s a master class in plot. Or rather, how to make plot not seem like plot. It’s the progression we get in real life: day to day events that aren’t much in themselves but accrue, layer upon layer, into unforeseen outcomes.

And then, it’s a master class in
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book started out gently enough, then got interesting, and finally settled into a pleasant, slow cruise into a historical novel. Then around the all hell broke loose and the plot flew off the rails, hurtling down a ravine of gasps and OMGs into a new realm of storyland... a new realm I like a lot! If you need spoilers, I'm sure other reviews will have them, but I'm going to just leave this here with one of my uncommon five stars. ...more
Rachel Best
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jo Walton’s books are unpredictable, both like and unlike the others. This is a beautiful, touching story, that takes religion seriously but still finds room to play with it. I feel like Girolamo is a friend of mine now, and 15th century Florence a place I visited and loved. I think anyone should read this.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
3.5 rounded up. Sort of smash up of elements between My Real Children and The Just City. Kept my interest until 3/4 in and then I felt the pages of dialog didn’t keep the plot moving as well. Still it’s Jo Walton and always thoughtful.
Nicholas Perez
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure brilliance, this book, pure brilliance.

Jo Walton may be the first author I've read that has done actual research on the era and person of interest in her book: Renaissance Italy, mostly Florence, and Girolamo Savonarola the Dominic monk known for his prophetic visions and for starting a bonfire of the vanities. In this book, Savonarola goes through a Groundhog Day situation; his lives a variety of different lives trying to change the course of both his own history and of those around him an
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
As with every book of Walton's, I am both awed and perplexed by the author's imagination and ideas. Walton is a force of her own. Similarly to the Thessaly trilogy, I would have never said I would be engrossed by a book about Girolamo Savonarola, and yet, it was extremely engrossing. And deeply weird, too - I can honestly say it is a very, very idiosyncratic book, one you can either love despite its weirdness (I did) or be left cold.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
By now, I have learned that if a book was written by Jo Walton, I don't really need much more information to know that I want to read it. ...more
This is hard to review - I was enjoying myself until 40%, and only really got into it at that point, but the less said about the book, the better. You're better off knowing the least amount possible going in.

If you already know you like books by Jo Walton, what are you waiting for? Just go read this right away.

If you're not sure about this book, this is a story about ideas, about the Renaissance, about friendship, about the cost of doing what you think is right, and about hope. Savaronla, mostly
The Captain
Mar 30, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  I have always wanted to read this author's work and this was the first.  I wasn't sure what I was expecting with this novel (and was surprised!) but I am certainly glad to have read it.

This novel follows Girolamo Savanarola who was a priest in 15th century Florence.  The fantasy twist of this historical novel is that this Dominican friar can actually see and banish demons.  This book deals with the end of his life and the machination of Florentine politics and religion
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I heard Jo Walton was writing a book about the mad monk Savonarola, I scrambled to preorder it. I didn't know exactly what to expect, but Jo is an author I've learned to trust and roll with.

In this case - it's a different take on Girolamo Savonarola, his life, how things happen, and keep happening. You are steeped in the politics and time period of late 1400s Florence, and it feels as real as if you weren't in a magical setting where demons really exist and have a significant presence.

Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, owned
A lovely read for the time of the quarantine-isolation. Walton's imagination is boundless - there are echoes of her other writing here (of My Real Children and In Other Lands, for instance, and also Thessaly) but it's also completely new and different, and feels like something no other writer would have written.

I am not sure I found it fully satisfying - perhaps the last part could have been a little more developed, for the ending to feel fleshed out? - but I loved its themes, and theology, and
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is difficult - it's a difficult premise to pull off, and a difficult read, and difficult to assess.

For one thing, Girolamo Savonarola is not a pleasant character. Walton manages to make him fairly sympathetic, but he's one of history's biggest self-righteous assholes who did a lot of damage in the name of "the greater good." So spending a whole book with his character is daring. On top of that, Savonarola's world was very different from ours, and it takes a lot of work to get into his
Joseph R.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dominican Girolamo Savonarola lives in late 15th century Florence. He has the gift to see demons who haunt places and the even greater gift to drive them out. He's also a powerful preacher who inspires the Florentine people to live holier lives. He's successful in the spiritual life. He also sees the future and has influence over political situations. He averts a sack of Florence by Charles VIII of France and becomes a key player in the local government. He works hard to make Florence into anoth ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up off a “staff picks” shelf at the library, and almost put it back down after a cursory glance at the inside flap. Then I glanced at the author description on the back flap, saw she was a woman, and checked out the book. (We’re solidly in the “I don’t want to hear what men have to say” part of the year now, friends.)

Still, I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I figured it would be a solid, fairly standard historical fiction novel with some Christian mythology
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.

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