In this gripping historical thriller set in sixteenth-century Spain, a Catholic priest is murdered by a mysterious Muslim avenger as the Inquisition continues to force Moriscos to live and worship as Christians.
In March 1584, the priest of Belamar de la Sierra, a small town in Aragon near the French border, is murdered in his own church. Most of the town’s inhabitants are Moriscos, former Muslims who converted to Catholicism. Anxious to avert a violent backlash on the eve of a royal visit, an adviser to King Philip II appoints local magistrate Bernardo de Mendoza to investigate. A soldier and humanist, Mendoza doesn’t always live up to the moral standards expected of court officials, but he has a reputation for incorruptibility.
From the beginning, Mendoza finds almost universal hatred for the priest. And it isn’t long before he’s drawn into a complex and dangerous world in which greed, fanaticism, and state policy overlap. And as the killings continue, Mendoza's investigation is overshadowed by the real prospect of an ethnic and religious civil war.
By turns an involving historical thriller and a novel with parallels to our own time, The Devils of Cardona is an unexpected and compelling read.
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Evidently, this is the first fictional effort by the historian, Matthew Carr. His specialty (per the book jacket) is Islam in Medieval Spain. Not surprisingly, he combines his research on the era with an adventurous plot which follows the conventional "adventure book" style.
Islam has had a contentious interface with Western civilization for quite some time. Following the establishment of the religion and culture in Spain, interactions became even more fractious. That conflict is the foundation for this story. Interestingly, the church vs. state conflict marched on into the Spanish Civil War and was nearly as disputatious in the recent past as in the very distant past.
The protagonist is a magistrate representing the royal court. His prime adversary is the Church in the form of the Inquisition. He is accompanied on his quest by a retinue of faithful retainers, including a swashbuckling relative (an Errol Flynn type), a young and naive charge (as in Robert...
I bought this book because of a NYT positive review, my interest in Spain during the years of the Inquisition (in this case, the later years) and because it was by Matthew Carr whose excellent non-fiction book "Blood and Faith - The Purging of Muslim Spain" was so good. Alas, I was disappointed. Thank goodness I read it on my Kindle so I could use the "search" function to refresh my memory as to who was who in the plot which was so convoluted. It starts off well with the reader wondering who, among the many with motive to do so, killed the village priest. But after more killings and too many red herrings, I didn't really care. I did enjoy the sub plot of the main character's young ward, how and why he was "adopted" as an infant, his infatuation with a young girl who is a Morisco (a Moor converted, usually forcibly, to Christianity) and his reconciling himself to his newly found identity. Also interesting was the relationship between the Moriscos (new...
An fascinating story of investigating a complicated crime in 16 TH century Spain. To fully understand the reader should know that by the year 900 Spain was totally conquered by North African Muslims called Moors- all except one small northern Catholic province named Aragon. From that the Catholic forces started a gradual struggle to re-conquest all of Spain. It lasted until 1490, some 500 years when the Catholic forces led by Fernidad and Isabel defeated the Moors in the battle for Granada, with its magnificent Alhambra. Besides sending Columbus to discover the new world these Catholic rulers mandated that the many Moors and Jews living in Spain had to convert to Catholism or leave Spain.Many did Convert and many pretended. Those who pretended were called Moriscos which you meet in this well written story of a series of murders being investigated by a Spanish judge. The struggle between the Catholic rulers and Morescos offers some parallels to today in our own terror era. The...
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