Patricia O'Sullivan's Reviews > The Heretic

The Heretic by Lewis M. Weinstein
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it was amazing

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, who has also decided to return to Judaism. But a Dominican priest with a hatred of Jews is determined to destroy the Catalans, making their every move wrought with danger. Gabriel and Thomas have befriended young Queen Isabella of Castile, but is her friendship enough to save them?

The Heretic is a serious read, dense with passages on history, theology, and daily life in 15th-century Spain. It took me awhile to read it, not because I found it dull or difficult, but because it is the kind of narrative one savors rather than devours in a single sitting. I finished the story satisfied in the way I've felt after completing difficult, but intellectually stimulating classes.

My favorite character was Thomas Catalan. He ties so many of the narrative threads together with his unusual friendships with a Spanish princess and a Moorish prince, his tender love for Esther Ardit and her son, his loyalty to his family, and his capability as an artisan and a man of business.

It is important for all people to understand how religious fanaticism destroys families, nations, and the very religions they seek to promote. Lew Weinstein challenges his readers, especially his Christian readers, to contemplate the legacy of fanaticism in the relations between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 10, 2012 – Shelved

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Lewis Weinstein Thank you.

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