* excerpts from Mike’s Goodreads review of “The Pope’s Conspiracy”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 8, 2012

The Pope’s Conspiracy is a great read which tightly binds the intrigue of a thriller with the lightness of a narrative history.

There is as much edginess and uncertainty as the historical template will allow, and the characters are extremely well depicted, both real and fictitious. Fans of historical fiction should read it as the thrilling introduction to a very interesting period in time; fans of Renaissance history should read it as the accurate walking tour of Europe’s most important city of the day that it serves as; and those who fit into neither category should read it because historical fiction, Florence and its history and The Pope’s Conspiracy have a huge amount to offer everybody.

The book is set in 1478 in Florence, which was at that time approaching the zenith of its powers as an unrivaled artistic, scientific and financial centre. Rarely can an city on earth have laid a claim to have been so important in the development of the modern world.

Into this world of political chess and creative mastery come the characters of Benjamin and Esther Catalan, whose story began with Lew Weinstein’s previous book, The Heretic. I will give nothing away of the story if I write that, as heroes of fiction should be, the couple are immediately likable, faults and all, and that this leads the reader to hope that they avoid the perils of European Jewry of that age, which surround them from the very first page. That, for reasons which will become clear further down this page, is where I will stop with the historical background.

The story slips by at a great rate and before one knows it, the last page is in sight and this reader was left hungry to find a copy of The Heretic and find out more fully how Benjamin and Esther came to be in Florence.

The story itself is captivating – clearly very thoroughly researched, balanced, and with a development and definition of character that sticks closely to known historical fact as much as possible while leaving room for enough to be changed to suit the direction of the plot without ruining the realism.

There was also enough information on the every day lives of Jews five hundred years ago to open my interests in a new subject altogether, and the book certainly has a wealth to offer in that respect.

Purchase   ** THE POPE’S CONSPIRACY   at amazon … paper or kindle



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