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The Heretic

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The Heretic is a novel of daring adventure, tender first love, religious persecution, and political intrigue. It tells the story of a family of secret Jews living in Seville on the eve of the Spanish Inquisition.
Paperback, 390 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by WingSpan Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I wanted to read after talking a wee bit with its writer on Goodreads, he chose interesting books in reading so I was kind of curious. The previous book I read was a story taking place between the two World wars in the last century.

This story takes Place in medieval Spain where the Moors still rule a large part of the country and in a period that the Church of the Christians still wants the power over Europe through their followers. This is the story of "the conversos", bapti
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read several of Weinstein’s books and thoroughly enjoyed them. This is a historical novel set in 15th century Spain. The protagonist is Gabriel Catalan, a Jew that converted to Christianity, who is now rediscovering his Jewish faith. The story takes place just before the Spanish Inquisition. The Catalan family fear the Dominican priest, Father Ricardo Perez, a protégé of Torquemada.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Every time I have read one of Lewis Weinstein’s books
Lewis Weinstein
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I am the author of THE HERETIC. Instead of reviewing my own book, here are two reviews which were posted on amazon ...

an amazon customer review ... Set against the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, "The Heretic" provided for me an exciting way to learn about a period of history of which I knew very little. The novel is filled with ingredients that drew me into the book. Not only a portrayal of the persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Catholic Church, "The Heretic" is primarily a st
Cathy DuPont
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who enjoys a great story told well.
If I kept a GR shelf for family sagas, this book would be proudly placed there along with The Pillars of the Earth, Gone With the Wind, and The Age Of Innocence. In my mind they are all historical novels which describe families and their trials and tribulations of living in troubling and/or interesting times.

This historical fiction was set during the Spanish Inquisition which I knew little about. During this inquisition under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain in the late 1400’s and ear
Lewis Weinstein
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
THE HERETIC was my first novel, published in 2000. It tells the story of the secretly Jewish Catalan family, desperately struggling to avoid the snare of the Catholic Church in the years just before the Spanish Inquisition. It is also a multi-generational love story and a description of the earliest years of printing.

The Heretic has been given high praise by Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz and Faye Kellerman, and many other Jewish, Catholic and secular sources.

I invite you to read these reviews at
Carole P. Roman
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moving story about Gabriel Catalan, a converso living in 15th century Seville. For years, Jews and other minorities lived peacefully in Spain, with sporadic bouts of persecution. During one particularly tough time, they were forced to either convert or die. Many chose to die for their beliefs, but others converted to Christianity. They continued on in society and were referred to as New Christians. After a time, those who converted felt the tug of their former religion, and practiced secretly. A ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Heretic is a wonderfully written novel about the Spanish Inquisition and the impact it had on the Jewish population in the 15th century. In Lewis Weinstein's able hands, the history of Jewish culture trying to survive the Anti-Semitic acts of that era survive. In fact, Weinstein describes with great deft, the roots of Anti-Semitic views in Europe.
I read this book in one day, finding it difficult to put down. History, action, and love all abound in this book. Also present is the notion of i
Patricia O'Sullivan
Gabriel Catalan's father was stoned to death by a Christian mob despite converting to Christianity. As he nears middle age, Gabriel seeks to learn more about his father's Jewish faith. Welcomed into a community of secret Jews, Gabriel is entrusted by them to learn the new art of printing from Herr Gutenberg himself so the Jews can preserve their sacred texts and encourage fledgling Jewish communities in Spain. As Gabriel's fortunes rise, he hands over the printing operation to his son, Thomas, w ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
When I get awake thinking about a book, and get up to read it (without even making coffee first), that's a pretty good indication that the book has captured my attention. This is a well-researched, well-written historical novel about a time in human history that is still resonating today in 2017. The story is set in Spain, during the Inquisition, and yet it is a parable for our times. Religious intolerance has not gone away. In fact, it was very chilling to be reading this book as events were un ...more
Christine Boyer
Well, this was an interesting choice for me. A few months back, I received a "friend" request from Lewis Weinstein. So I thought I'd check out his books. This title sounded interesting, so I picked it up from the library.

I enjoyed learning about the history of this very specific time and place - 15th century Spain, during the time of the of the inquisition. Since I'm someone who loves and studies history, I'm not sure why I didn't already know more about Queen Isabella, the forced conversions o
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am Catholic. My entire life I have had friends that are Jewish. Until reading this compelling novel did I really understand their feelings towards Christianity. This book is a must read.
Anna Bendewald
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best Saga Ever. Period.
Let me preface by saying that my husband loves Game of Thrones, so sagas are his taste, while I tend toward a bit less weighty reading - but I was consumed by this story! The Heretic is a book for the ages and can be put on the same shelf as Tolkien's The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.

Weinstein's deft weaving of fascinating characters is page-turning situations during no ordinary times opens the pages up and his readers fall helplessly through.

The Spanish Inquisition comes
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would assume that most people who consider reading THE HERETIC are familiar with the details of that tragic period of Jewish and Catholic history. While Lewis Weinstein’s scholarly novel does give the usual details about the predetermined trials, the tortures, and the burning of its victims, particularly at the end of the book, THE HERETIC goes much deeper into its causes.
Gabriel Catalan ’s Jewish father was forcibly converted to Catholicism,thus becoming a converso. While some Jews were abl
Lewis Weinstein
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
FULL DISCLOSURE ... I am the author. This is a Spanish edition (published last week) of The Heretic, originally published in English in 2000.

The Heretic by Lewis M. Weinstein

Here are extracts from a review (of the English edition) from The Historical Novels Review …

... The narrative is compelling, sweeping the reader along on a well-paced journey, while the setting comes alive with the sights, sounds and smells of medieval Spain.

... Set in fifteenth century Spain, The Heretic by Lewis Weinstein tells the story of a conver
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This historical novel is well-researched and the story is captivating, although difficult to read in places because of the terrible violence perpetrated against Jews and forcibly baptized Christians (and their descendants) suspected of "reverting" to Judaism in medieval Spain. The author captures well the dangers in the lives of these conversos and, for those who wish to live as Jews, the risks they ran to practice their faith and be true to their heritage. All of this is in the context of the l ...more
Thomas DeKooning
I finished The Heretic today. It is beautifully written and it is obviously carefully and thoroughly researched. The novel is a historical fictional account of the elimination of the Jewish population by the Catholic Church in Spain just before and during the reign of Queen Isabella. Moral questions are constantly put before the reader. Choices have to be made between religious commitment to the Jewish faith or to the safety and survival of the family. The wife and mother, Pilar, is much more in ...more
David Lowther
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I approached The Heretic with a small amount of trepidation because, as a gentile, I wasn't certain that I would follow the passages of the explanation of the Jewish faith which I knew to be contained in the book.
In the event I needn't have been concerned at all. Yes there was much of what I expected but all of this was wrapped around a thrilling and superbly told story and added strength to what Lewis Weinstein was trying to achieve; to give readers a complete understanding of how and why the J
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written story that will pull at your heartstrings because of the amount of loss and betrayal that occurs when the Catholic Church decides there can be no other religions to compete with them in Spain.

Gabriel Catalan and his family live in Seville where they are called Conversos because they converted to Catholicism to save their family from the torment they would get as Jews. However, Gabriel and a number of other Conversos are secret Jews. Many Catholics do not trust them yet the Convers
Paul Fadoju
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, fiction
A touching well written book. Set during the Spanish Inquisition it shows the beautiful portrayal of a Jewish Family as they try to live in a culture that denies their humanity. I was touched with the tapestry of their lives, the length they went to live the lives that was true to themselves....and as you go through their struggles, you ask yourself a simple question what would I do in their situation. This ugly part of the Christian history is not well known to the modern church and it's nice t ...more
Stephen Embry
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would highly recommend Mr. Weistein's story of Spain during the time of the reconquista and the inquisition. It captures the conflicts in a land populated by Christians, Jews and Musliims in a remarkably fresh way. At this time the the Christian princes and princesse were involved in a struggle to reconcile holy wars manifested by the crusades and jihad, in a way that is difficult to appreciate in modern terms, which are largely a response to the religious passions of the times.However, these ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author, Lewis Weinstein, is one of my Goodreads friends. Outstanding job, Lew. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and this is historical fiction of the first order. It is very well written, exhaustively researched and historically accurate. This book increased my knowledge of the religious conflict in 15th century Spain by one hundred fold. The folks writing positive acknowledgements about the book include Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz and Faye Kellerman. It tells the story from
the view
Pat K
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An historic telling of the treatment, by the Catholic church, of the Jews in Spain, leading up to the period of the Spanish inquisition. I have read a number of books about the annihilation of the Cathars and other religious groups by the Catholic Church, and I had realized the Jews were also persecuted by the church, but this story explores not only the actions of the church, but also the tenacity and resourcefulness of the Jewish people. A slowish read but a thoroughly interesting story.
Peggie Hart
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Tells a part of European history I knew little about. "The Heretic" explains the rationale of the Catholic Church used to persecute the Jews of Spain. Lessons for our own time. I want to learn more about the Spanish Inquisition period so I am now reading the newly released book "Isabella The Warrior Queen" by Kirstin Downey. Looks to be another very interesting book. ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure where to start with my review of Lewis Weinstein's 'The Heretic', so I'll start by saying that it was a damn good read. I think that part of my problem here is that I read the sequel first, and while both books are very good works of fiction in their own right, there's always a little less suspense when one knows, even in the broadest terms, what is going to happen down the line.

My misfortune aside, The Heretic is, like its sequel The Pope's Conspiracy, a very well-written, historic
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read and strong reminders of how powerful fear can be in causing good people to hate each other. I also loved the deep loving marriages. The characters were very real, the dialogue honest, the descriptions vivit and the facts (historical and biblical) so well researched that I learned a great deal while enjoying a wonderful story. Thank you Lewis.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
What risks are your beliefs worth? During the Spanish Inquisition, this question permeates the lives of the Jews and conversos, those who had converted to Catholicism under duress. With noteworthy historical accuracy, Weinstein brings the fictional Catalan family and its nemesis Friar Perez, into the realistic world, one including Gutenberg, the father of the printing press, the infamously evil monk Torquemada, and various members of the royal families of the kingdoms of Spain that were not yet ...more
Wow. It took me awhile to actually read this book because when I first stumbled upon it, it wasn't available on kindle. Then I waited because I needed fast moving books to keep interested with my busy life. Who says fast moving needs to be mindless? Couldn't put the book down. Finished in two weeks and was sad when the story was over. Well written historical fiction. Reminds me why I love historical fiction. Characters are believable and so full of life and stories to tell. Helps bring clarity t ...more
Madeleine Russo
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone, be you Christian, Catholic, Jewish....matters not this is a book which will open your eyes and broaden your knowledge of how religious persecution took place. You will be astonished at how religion was used to severly punish people - so times for no good reason. you owe it yo yourself to put this book as a must read..when you are done you will have a much better understanding of our human race. GREAT BOOK!
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book written about religious intolerance in Fifteenth-Century Spain interesting and informative and quite shocking. The descriptions of characters, costumes,scenery,landscapes and religious traditions made this book come alive for me.A Good read, this book really opened my mind about religious thought and dogma. I recommend this book to all.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty good book about "conversos" or Jews forced to convert to Christianity in 14th-16th century Spain. The storyline is actually about a family of conversos who try to re-establish their Judaism in a time when Jews are persecuted. ...more
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