Q

Luther Blissett

Book - 2004

With Europe convulsed in wars over religion, a young theology student finds himself siding with heretics and the disenfranchised while confronting an agent of the Vatican who intends to hunt down and destroy enemies of the faith.

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FICTION/Blissett, Luther
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Subjects
Published
Orlando : Harcourt [2004?]
Edition
1st U.S. ed
Language
English
Italian
Item Description
Previously published: London : William Heinemann, 2003.
Physical Description
ix, 750 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
0151010633
9780151010639
0156031965
9780156031967
Main Author
Luther Blissett (author)
Other Authors
Shaun Whiteside (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ American readers can thank a gifted translator for an English version of a novel that has already captured hundreds of thousands of Europeans with its spellbinding tale of sixteenth-century intrigue and deceit. The cunning deceptions begin with the pen name, devised by four sly Italians who share a pseudonym taut with the Reformation tensions their fiction so powerfully depicts. In this world of religious warfare and ecclesiastical espionage, the high-stakes deceptions never stop: elusive heretics resort to every conceivable ruse to foment rebellion against papal authorities who, in turn, defend their ramparts with instruments of inquisitorial terror. But in an entire continent convulsing with doctrinal enmities, the authors focus on one radical Anabaptist pursued by one implacable Vatican agent. In the deadly game of pursuit and evasion that this linked pair play, strategies rapidly shift and identities frequently dissolve. (A code name for the Vatican agent supplies the novel's title.) Readers may indeed experience a bit of vertigo as they try to sort out the contradictions in the conflicting narrative voices--dripping with guile at one moment, aflame with obscenity the next--all echoing through a dangerous labyrinth of conspiracy and vengeance. Scrupulously researched, this multilayered fiction accurately reflects the treacherous contrarieties pitting Lutheran burghers against free-spirit utopians, Venetian merchants against Sephardic Jews, European princes against the Turkish sultan. But even the most historically sophisticated will not anticipate the exquisite plot twists of the denouement. And any reader who spoils another's pleasure by revealing the ending deserves an hour or two in the hands of Q's inquisitorial masters. ((Reviewed February 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Crafted by four fledgling authors and published anonymously in Italy, this literary thriller became a best seller with a cult following throughout Europe. In 1517 Germany, as the Reformation gets underway, a fired-up young Anabaptist plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a papal spy known only as Q. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Rich religious history is turned into bloated, tedious fiction in this Reformation-age epic produced by four anonymous writers lurking behind a pseudonym. In 1517, Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral. In 1525, a one-time theological student, a radical Anabaptist who goes under a number of names over the course of the narrative, but who is initially called Gustav Metzger, pulls off the first of a number of hairbreadth escapes from heretic hunters keen to spill the blood of any would-be supporter of Luther. For the next 30 years, even as Protestantism slowly makes inroads across Europe, Metzger is tracked by a papal spy who, traveling incognito under the eponymous moniker Q, keeps his boss apprised while he and his compatriots attempt to crush the movement on behalf of the Vatican before the schism widens. Needless to say, they fail. Translator Whiteside has done the best he could with the material: stripped-down chapters breathlessly composed of short, snappy paragraphs ("The girl smiles. She's extremely beautiful") alternate with epistolary passages given a faux-historical gloss. Speech anachronisms abound throughout, especially when events are related by Metzger and company ("`What the fuck did you say? What? So you're not dead, but you scare me anyway, pal, you scare me'"), and most of the characters sound so alike that not only do they remain lifeless on the page, they are often indistinguishable from one another. A good amount of historical research is lumped throughout, but the period stylings are wooden and the story never gains enough momentum to carry readers along. (May 4) Forecast: This was a cult hit in Europe, but will face a struggle in the U.S., despite a striking jacket and enticing doorstop heft. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

With Europe convulsed in wars over religion, a young theology student finds himself siding with heretics and the disenfranchised while confronting an agent of the Vatican who intends to hunt down and destroy enemies of the faith.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

With Europe convulsed in wars over religion, a young theology student finds himself siding with heretics and the disenfranchised while confronting an agent of the Vatican who is determined to hunt down and destroy enemies of the faith, in a meticulously rendered historical thriller set against the backdrop of the Reformation. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

1517 Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, and a dance of death begins between a radical Anabaptist with many names and a loyal papal spy, known mysteriously as "Q." In this brilliantly conceived literary thriller set in the chaos of the Reformation-an age devastated by wars of religion-a young theology student adopts the cause of heretics and the disinherited and finds himself pursued by a relentless papal informer and heretic-hunter. What begins as a personal struggle to reveal each others' identities becomes a mission that can only end in death.