During the inquisition, Spanish would purposely serve pig knuckles and ham hock to see if a pretend converted Jew chokes at the sight. They would charge for tortures—removing fingers, mouth burns, even if you are burned at the stake, your family has to cover the costs. Columbus used the theories based on the almanac of Rabbi Abraham Zacuto. Isabel and Ferdinand financed Columbus’s voyage to the new world with money confiscated from the Jews of Seville exiled or killed.
The novel juggles time periods between 1492 and 1992. It gives the novel a thrust as you try to determine the connection between those five hundred years. With a large canvas of characters, Mary Morris is able to keep our focus without gimmicks or contrivances.
The sequence where the adult son of a converso, Jews that converted to Christianity, to avoid execution by Spain, proceeds to circumcise himself is excruciating. The detail and aftermath of the blood is written with poetic horror. The side effects of this self-mutilation prevented him from intimacy due to lasting pain.
The Inquisition horror is laced with beautiful writing as the reader continues to gasp at the mechanisms The Spanish used against Converso Jews.
With a tear soaked ending, this is a magnificent read full of magical treasures. All plot and character threads are stunningly connected by the last page.