Inquisitor’s Niece by Erika Rummel
Publisher: Bygone Era Books, Ltd. (March 31, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: May/June, 2016
Available in: Print & ebook, 394 Pages
About the Book:
The path of true love never runs straight. Alonso and Luisa love each other, However there are a few obstacles to their happiness: the husband she was forced to marry; her uncle, the Regent of Spain; and Alonso’s Jewish family. Mix in the meddlesome Natale, whose loyalty is always to the highest bidder, and you have a story of a courageous couple determined to be happy together, despite the cards being stacked against them. Using the tumultuous period of Spain immediately following the deaths of Ferdinand and Isabella as her canvas, Erika Rummel paints a portrait of an era where Cardinals hold supreme power, Jews are forcibly converted to Christianity, and the spies of the Inquisition are everywhere.
Read an Excerpt:
“Come in, Fray Natale,” Doctor Malki said to his visitor. He couldn’t help smiling at the sight of the plump little Franciscan who greeted him with a flutter of his fingers and entered the house with mincing steps.
Alonso Malki had no liking for the Franciscan Order. They were a boorish lot of hypocrites making a show of their piety and devotion, but Natale was the exception to the rule. He was a man of rare accomplishments who could turn out polished Latin phrases and recite Homer in the original Greek. He was a fellow book lover who shared the doctor’s interest in ancient manuscripts.
He ushered Natale into his study.
“So you are off to Alcala, my friend, depriving me of your learned company?”
Natale dropped into a chair and stretched his legs. “I would have preferred to stay in Seville, but my skills are not valued here.”
“And Alcala offers you greener pastures?”
“Only if Cardinal Cisneros takes me into his service.”
At the mention of the Cardinal’s name, the doctor’s blood ran cold. Cisneros was a patron of learning and a scholar in his own right, but he was the Inquisitor General and a bitter enemy of the Jews. It was at his prompting that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had passed the infamous decree that forced Jews to convert to Christianity or be exiled. The law had driven Alonso’s family underground. After submitting to baptism, the Malkis moved to
Las Palmas and quietly practiced the religion
of their fathers there. They thought they could escape the watchful eye of the
Inquisition in the outlying territories of Spain, but the Church had a thousand
spies, and the Malkis had come under investigation. More often than not those
investigations ended in arrest, interrogation, and torture. All it took was the
testimony of a disgruntled servant or a malicious neighbour, and the judge might
pronounce the accused guilty of heresy and hand him over to the secular
authorities to be burned at the stake. There was to be a public burning that
very day in front of the cathedral. Believers were encouraged to witness the
spectacle and demonstrate their own faith by reviling the condemned, but Alonso
shuddered at the thought of watching the suffering of another human being. He
was a physician, and his mission was to relieve suffering. And what was
“heresy” after all? No, better not dwell on that dangerous question!
Alonso suppressed his private thoughts and recalled himself to his duties as a host. The servant had brought in a carafe of sweet
wine. The doctor lifted his glass and drank to Natale’s health and prospects in
“I wish the Cardinal would employ me on his great project,” the Franciscan said. “You’ve heard of his plan to publish a polyglot Bible?”
Alonso nodded. “A Bible with parallel columns in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. It’s an ambitious undertaking.”
“He has hired a team of scholars to put together the text on the basis of old manuscripts. His library is well-stocked, but his agents are scouring the bookstalls for more. -- Don’t you have an ancient Hebrew Bible in your possession, Alonso?”
It was a delicate question to put to a converso who was supposed to forget his Jewish past.
The precious Bible had been handed down in Alonso’s family for many generations. It was concealed in a recess behind his bed, wrapped up in a prayer shawl. He had no intention of parting with the book or even letting on to Natale that it was still in his possession. Times were perilous, and a man’s devotion to a Hebrew Bible might be construed as an act of heresy.
“I no longer have the Bible manuscript,” he said to Natale. “When we converted to Christianity, my father cast the tefillot and machzorim and selichot into the bonfire, together with all his books.”
“What! He cast the Old Testament into the flames? I would have thought that the Word of God was sacrosanct even when written in Hebrew characters.”
“The bishop thought differently.”
The bells of Santa Maria de la Sede began to toll. Through the windows of his study, Alonso could see the solid walls and flying buttresses of the cathedral. The bells were tolling for the heretics, an invitation to repent before they were burned at the stake.
Natale heaved his rump out of the seat.
“Are you coming to witness their punishment, Alonso?”
“I prefer to reflect on their fate in private.”
Natale wagged a plump finger at Alonso. “My advice is: go and show your face even if you feel sorry for the sinners.”
“I dislike the carnival atmosphere surrounding executions. The common people behave like animals and take a beastly pleasure in the suffering of others.”
“So you are sorry for the heretics,” Natale said.
The doctor bit his lip.
Natale gave him a probing look. “And now you are sorry that you opened your mouth.”
“I have no reason to regret what I said, and I’m not afraid of speaking my mind.”
“You need not be afraid of me. But think of your neighbours, Alonso. You don’t want them to say: Why is the doctor staying home? Is he in sympathy with the heretics?”
“In that point you are right,” Alonso said. “We live in a wretched age when it is not enough to be honourable. One must appear to be honourable as well.”
“Then come along,” Natale said and led the way to the Plaza Mayor.
This excerpt will continue on May 27 at http://brokenteepee.com/
Praise for Head Games:
"Head Games is a unique and entertaining adventure with heart. There are the thrills of the adventure itself and we get to see the depth of the characters as they experience their fast paced South American quest. The story felt new and fresh!"-Valerie Mitchell, Mama Likes This
"This is a fast paced page turner. A suspenseful, thrilling roller coaster ride with lots of twisty, loopy sections. Head Games is an apt title for this enthralling read. "- Joy Renee, Joy Story
“Identity’s a big theme in this work, so if you’ve ever felt you were someone other than yourself, if you thought you might like to try living in someone else’s skin, if you’ve wondered whether your friends and loved ones were not exactly who they claimed to be, then this psychological labyrinth might just be your winding road to a good read”.- Carole Giangrande, Words to Go
Meet the Author:
Erika Rummel is the author of more than a dozen non-fiction books and three novels: 'Playing Naomi', 'Head Games', 'The Inquisitor’s Niece'. She won the Random House Creative Writing Award (2011) for a chapter from 'The Effects of Isolation on the Brain', which is forthcoming. She is the recipient of a Getty Fellowship and the Killam Award. Erika grew up in Vienna, emigrated to Canada and obtained a PhD from the University of Toronto. She taught at Wilfrid Laurier and U of Toronto. She divides her time between Toronto and Los Angeles and has lived in Argentina, Romania, and Bulgaria.
Erika's Website: http://www.erikarummel.com/
Erika's Blog: http://rummelsincrediblestories.blogspot.ca/
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