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At an auto da fe in 16th century Portugal, Diego Lopes was chained to a stake and a pyre was lit. Then, according to both Christian and Jewish witnesses, he mysteriously disappeared in front of thousands of astonished spectators. The only point of contention was that the Christians believed he was so evil that he was dragged body and soul directly to hell, while the Jews b At an auto da fe in 16th century Portugal, Diego Lopes was chained to a stake and a pyre was lit. Then, according to both Christian and Jewish witnesses, he mysteriously disappeared in front of thousands of astonished spectators. The only point of contention was that the Christians believed he was so evil that he was dragged body and soul directly to hell, while the Jews believed he was so righteous that he was taken body and soul up to heaven. What really happened? And can love, strong enough to cross a religious divide, survive the fires of the Inquisition? The answers to these questions are the story of Acts of Faith.


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At an auto da fe in 16th century Portugal, Diego Lopes was chained to a stake and a pyre was lit. Then, according to both Christian and Jewish witnesses, he mysteriously disappeared in front of thousands of astonished spectators. The only point of contention was that the Christians believed he was so evil that he was dragged body and soul directly to hell, while the Jews b At an auto da fe in 16th century Portugal, Diego Lopes was chained to a stake and a pyre was lit. Then, according to both Christian and Jewish witnesses, he mysteriously disappeared in front of thousands of astonished spectators. The only point of contention was that the Christians believed he was so evil that he was dragged body and soul directly to hell, while the Jews believed he was so righteous that he was taken body and soul up to heaven. What really happened? And can love, strong enough to cross a religious divide, survive the fires of the Inquisition? The answers to these questions are the story of Acts of Faith.

30 review for Acts of Faith: Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    3.5 stars. The book held my attention throughout, and was well-plotted. I study this time period in Spanish history, so reading about the Inquisition from the Portuguese perspective was naturally aligned with my interests. I really geek out over old manuscripts, so I loved that Elsant included a scan of the original document with the description of the auto-da-fe that inspired the novel in an appendix, and I thought he did an incredible job of imagining a narrative that was consistent with the d 3.5 stars. The book held my attention throughout, and was well-plotted. I study this time period in Spanish history, so reading about the Inquisition from the Portuguese perspective was naturally aligned with my interests. I really geek out over old manuscripts, so I loved that Elsant included a scan of the original document with the description of the auto-da-fe that inspired the novel in an appendix, and I thought he did an incredible job of imagining a narrative that was consistent with the description of the "miracle" in the archival document, yet still plausible for those less inclined to give credence to miraculous explanations. Given all that, this should have been a 5-star read, and yet, it just... wasn't. The writing was competent, for the most part, but felt a bit stilted at times, and simply lacked that je ne sais quois that would elevate the novel to a 4- or 5-star rating. There was a tendency towards repetition as well. For example, when Ari and Maria are conversing during their first tutoring session, the first sentences of four consecutive paragraphs are as follows: "Ari relaxed a bit and smiled as distant, beloved memories came rushing back to him." "Ari's smile deepened as he recalled some of the most cherished moments of his life." "Ari paused for a moment, as he savored the warm glow of these nearly lost childhood memories." "Ari's eyes glistened as he recalled those sweet long-ago moments." Given that each paragraph only had one or two lines of Ari's direct speech separating these sentences from one another, the repetition of "happy feeling" + "childhood memory" was particularly noticeable and ended up producing the opposite effect of what I assume was the intended purpose. That said, the book was still well-worth reading for the story alone, and I still recommend it, particularly for those who enjoy historical fiction, underdog stories, and intrigue, especially in a religious setting.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    ‘I would rather stand with God and against man than with man and against God’ Israeli author Martin Elsant has retired from his career as a radiologist and now embraces his passion for Jewish history with his writing. His published books to date – BAR MITZVAH LESSONS, PEOPLE ARE JUST NO DAMN GOOD, and now ACTS OF FAITH, the initial volume of his proposed trilogy THE INQUISITION. The trilogy is his intelligent research into the life of Diego Lopes and his interrogation by the 16th century Inquisi ‘I would rather stand with God and against man than with man and against God’ Israeli author Martin Elsant has retired from his career as a radiologist and now embraces his passion for Jewish history with his writing. His published books to date – BAR MITZVAH LESSONS, PEOPLE ARE JUST NO DAMN GOOD, and now ACTS OF FAITH, the initial volume of his proposed trilogy THE INQUISITION. The trilogy is his intelligent research into the life of Diego Lopes and his interrogation by the 16th century Inquisition. Martin lives in Jerusalem. With refined sensitivity Martin escorts us into the period of the Inquisition, offering some quotes such as ‘An Auto de fe is not so much an Act of Faith, which the words import, as of the hypocrisy of Inquisitors, who thus make a mockery of God and man, by abusing the venerable name of religion, and forcing the secular judges to become their butchers,’ the words of Archibald Bower form 1761! Making use of such pungent information and incorporating textual data from significant writers, Martin shares his view of the Inquisition and Diego Lopes’ life. ‘In this particular context, I believe that suggesting remote possibilities is not terribly out of place. It just makes me a fellow traveler with people who actually witnessed this event and believed it to be so unusual that it must have been supernatural. My only difference with them is that I add a component of human involvement to a process that they believed required only Divine intervention.’ That referenced event is explained in Martin’s terse synopsis – ‘At an auto da fe in 16th century Portugal, Diego Lopes was chained to a stake and a pyre was lit. Then, according to both Christian and Jewish witnesses, he mysteriously disappeared in front of thousands of astonished spectators. The only point of contention was that the Christians believed he was so evil that he was dragged body and soul directly to hell, while the Jews believed he was so righteous that he was taken body and soul up to heaven. What really happened? And can love, strong enough to cross a religious divide, survive the fires of the Inquisition?’ This exceptionally interesting novel revisits the life of Diego Lopes, engaging not only our interest in the well sculpted characters but also offers insights into that period of history in which The Inquisition existed – and by creating an historical novel of impact, Martin opens the trilogy as a source of fine reading entertainment and education. As the world molds variants of the ‘Inquisition’ in contemporary disguised forms, this novel gains importance in understanding the ‘remote possibilities’ Martin suggests. Very highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kayleigh

    This is a story about possibilities Elsant takes us into the period of the Inquisition. There are historical accounts and questions raised by the author that make this book worth delving into. Diego’s disappearance is surreal in some aspects, but it’s made authentic by the author’s approach. I was swept up by Ari and Maria’s story which, ultimately, is the result of the Spanish Inquisition. This is a story that focuses on historical details and those who people the story. This interesting novel i This is a story about possibilities Elsant takes us into the period of the Inquisition. There are historical accounts and questions raised by the author that make this book worth delving into. Diego’s disappearance is surreal in some aspects, but it’s made authentic by the author’s approach. I was swept up by Ari and Maria’s story which, ultimately, is the result of the Spanish Inquisition. This is a story that focuses on historical details and those who people the story. This interesting novel is not for everyone, but it’s certainly a 5 star story for those who appreciate historical research into the period of the Inquisition and for those who enjoy a tale of intrigue melded with history and literature. It is a book, though not for everyone, that a certain readership will appreciate. This author’s skillful structuring results in a piece of work worth discussing after it’s been read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is some excellent storytelling. The beginning involves some expert level character introduction; the way that the author pulls the reader into the life of each character in such short passages is wonderful. The way that the narratives of the central characters together is beautiful. This tale really brings a horrific point in history to life. Kind of surprised that the Inquisition targeted witchcraft less often than divorce, Jews, and Protestants. (Maybe witchcraft was more difficult to prove This is some excellent storytelling. The beginning involves some expert level character introduction; the way that the author pulls the reader into the life of each character in such short passages is wonderful. The way that the narratives of the central characters together is beautiful. This tale really brings a horrific point in history to life. Kind of surprised that the Inquisition targeted witchcraft less often than divorce, Jews, and Protestants. (Maybe witchcraft was more difficult to prove?) I became so sucked into the story that at the end of chapter 5 I literally yelled at the book because of a decision that one of the characters made that I did not agree with. (No spoilers; you'll just have to read it.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ray Palen

    The British Jewish historian Cecil Roth, who was educated at Oxford, wrote a book that was of special interest to author Martin Elsant. The book was entitled History Of the Marranos and of the many figures covered in it was one Diego Lopes of Pinancos in Coimbra, Portugal. Ironically, Mr. Elsant is a former radiologist living in Jerusalem and Mr. Roth died in Jerusalem in the year 1970. While much of ACTS OF FAITH is dedicated to the descendants of Diego Lopes, Martin Elsant includes two quotes p The British Jewish historian Cecil Roth, who was educated at Oxford, wrote a book that was of special interest to author Martin Elsant. The book was entitled History Of the Marranos and of the many figures covered in it was one Diego Lopes of Pinancos in Coimbra, Portugal. Ironically, Mr. Elsant is a former radiologist living in Jerusalem and Mr. Roth died in Jerusalem in the year 1970. While much of ACTS OF FAITH is dedicated to the descendants of Diego Lopes, Martin Elsant includes two quotes prior to his Author's Notes from different sources. One, in particular, I found quite interesting: "Folded under the dark wing of the Inquisition...the influence of an eye that never slumbered, of an unseen arm ever raised to strike. How could there be freedom of thought, where there was no freedom of utterance? Or freedom of utterance, where it was as dangerous to say too little as too much? Freedom cannot go along with fear." - William H. Prescott, The Age of Phillip II and the Supremacy of the Spanish Empire, 1858. It is easy to pick up a history book or click on Wikipedia to find out about Diego Lopes. I prefer, whenever possible, to read historical fiction --- an infusion of actual history within the opportunities that allow for creativity when re-examining historical events. I believe that this is what Martin Elsant is doing with ACTS OF FAITH, retelling historical events during one of the most difficult times in human and religious history --- The Inquisitions --- in such a way that it feels as if the reader is enjoying a book of fiction, filled with all the expected plot twists and turns. The story we are following involves Maria, the daughter of Diego Lopes, and a young man whom she is quite fond of, Aristedes or 'Ari' Coelho. Ari had a difficult life, having to watch his parents succumb to the Black Plague when he was only twelve years of age. His Aunt and Uncle already had six children and were unable to take on another so Ari ended up spending his 'orphan' time living with the village priest, Father Affonso. It was perhaps this experience at such an impressionable part of his life that led Ari to join the Seminary as soon as he was old enough to. When and Ari and Maria met she was immediately fond of him. He enjoys having biblical discussions with her, beginning with an explanation as to why the bible was not just meant for kind-hearted souls such as hers but also for sinners like himself. Regrettably, it was The Inquisitions that brought about a short falling-out period for Ari and Maria. One of Diego Lopes's servants, Pedro, is taken by one of the Inquisition Familiars. Being a servant with no political influence, Pedro was unable to fight against the planted evidence used to imprison him. Pedro soon becomes one of the many victims of The Inquisition when he is tortured to death. Maria finds Ari and they have a heated discussion over this matter --- heated only because Maria asked Ari if the Inquisitors who tortured Pedro to death were sinners and he indicated that, while they may have made unintentional mistakes in the case of Pedro, they did not sin. Part of Ari's seminary training included a tour of the torture chambers used by the Inquisitors. It is but the first thing that begins to slowly change his feelings about the entire Inquisition process. The Bishop, having been privy to Ari's slight change in attitude, sits him down for a good talk. It is during this talk that Ari's mind is made up --- what the Inquisitors are doing in the name of God is nothing but absolute, unadulterated evil. The question was, how does he fight it from the precarious position he is in? Ari learns of people being tortured just because of their contrary religious beliefs --- like those of the Jewish faith celebrating the ritual of fasting during the high holy day of Yom Kippur. Ari knew that it was not just one evil Church leader but an entirely evil system that needed to be stopped. The trouble was that the Inquisition Familiars in Portugal were trying hard to emulate those from Spain --- and the Spanish Inquisitions were no Monty Python sketch but one of the most deadly events in European history. The story takes a big turn when Ari's old friend Maria finds him and tells him that her father, Diego, has been arrested as part of The Inquisition. She begs him for help, but as much as he would like to, Ari realizes there is little he can do. The case against Diego Lopes is weak, and he is defending himself during the trial. When asked, he indicates that the only reason why he has been called out by the Inquisitors is because he has been accused of Judaizing. Things did not look good for Diego. This was a period in human history where there was not much sympathy for those who were feared. These people were simply eliminated, much in the same way that over 50,000 'witches' were killed in neighboring European countries. While Diego spent months in prison, Maria spoke with Ari in fear that it was just a matter of days before he was executed. Maria begs Ari to try and help indicating he is her last hope. It is tough for Ari to disappoint her, but there was really nothing he could do that would not find him in the same position as her father. At the same time, Ari finds is difficult to understand her proclamations that Judaism is superior to Christianity --- his seminary teaching and upbringing responsible for his stance. Regardless, the latter part of this book is a retelling of the plan made to free Diego and make an escape away from Portugal. Some readers may already know of Diego Lopes's fate but I will not spoil that here and encourage all to pick up this book from Martin Elsant and settle in for the ride in what represents the first book in the Inquisition Trilogy. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Goff

    I really enjoyed reading this book as I thought it had a great story line based on historical facts and events. Back in the 16th century, the Inquisition would arrest anyone suspected of practicing a different religion than Christianity and put them on trial. I thought the author did a great job of creating a fictional story about people living through this period in history, as this book gave me a sense of how life was like back then. This was a very scary time for a lot of people, for both non I really enjoyed reading this book as I thought it had a great story line based on historical facts and events. Back in the 16th century, the Inquisition would arrest anyone suspected of practicing a different religion than Christianity and put them on trial. I thought the author did a great job of creating a fictional story about people living through this period in history, as this book gave me a sense of how life was like back then. This was a very scary time for a lot of people, for both non-Christians and Christians, as anyone could be turned into the Inquisition with very little evidence to support the charges. It was especially hard for Jewish people as they had to hide their beliefs and practice their religion in secret and hope to not be caught. I liked that the main character, Ari, had one perspective concerning the Inquisition at the beginning of the book, but throughout the story, his perspective and beliefs started changing as he saw the true intent of why people were being arrested. I also enjoyed the love story between Ari and Maria as it was beautiful but also realistic and true to life. I felt like I learned a lot from reading this book plus was also entertained by the story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karyn H

    When Abuse of the holy office takes a center stage Indeed Martin Elsant has proven his love for Jewish history through this on the inquisition. This part one of his trilogy is indeed rich in contents concerning the inquisition. While the author’s work was in some ways influenced by the work of Miriam Bodian, Elsant also provided us with another way to look at the period of the inquisition. The author exposed some of the ills of the period through extensive study of the period in question. A close When Abuse of the holy office takes a center stage Indeed Martin Elsant has proven his love for Jewish history through this on the inquisition. This part one of his trilogy is indeed rich in contents concerning the inquisition. While the author’s work was in some ways influenced by the work of Miriam Bodian, Elsant also provided us with another way to look at the period of the inquisition. The author exposed some of the ills of the period through extensive study of the period in question. A close look at the protagonist of this book provides us with information about the Portuguese inquisition. One great event happens—which is the disappearance of Diego from the stakes. This single event tore through the heart of both the Christians and the Jews leaving them with different opinions. The Jews, on one hand, believed he was taken up to heaven for his righteousness and on the other hand the Christians believed he was dragged down to hell body and soul. The author also talked about the deeds of Aristides de Sousa Mende in saving the refugees single-handedly. This deed account for the greatest act of rescue by one man in history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Martin Elsant shows a real stroke of genius in the creation of The Inquisition Trilogy. Acts of Faith is a brilliant start, and I’m excited to see where Elsant takes it from here. Acts of Faith humanises some of the most horrendous aspects of the Inquisition, honing in on a romance between Ari (a student of theology and loyal to the Vatican) and Maria (an aristocrat whose uncle has been killed). The resulting tale of love, loss, and the struggle of these characters to reconcile their beliefs to t Martin Elsant shows a real stroke of genius in the creation of The Inquisition Trilogy. Acts of Faith is a brilliant start, and I’m excited to see where Elsant takes it from here. Acts of Faith humanises some of the most horrendous aspects of the Inquisition, honing in on a romance between Ari (a student of theology and loyal to the Vatican) and Maria (an aristocrat whose uncle has been killed). The resulting tale of love, loss, and the struggle of these characters to reconcile their beliefs to their attachment to one another, is truly beautiful. It adds a great depth to what is otherwise an informed and immersive work of historical fiction. I would recommend Acts of Faith to just about any reader. It’s a thoughtful consideration of human nature in the midst of a truly horrific period of inhumanity, and raises many insights that are still applicable to today’s culture and how we relate to one another as fellow human beings. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Viga Boland

    Catholic readers might not like what I discovered about Mother Church in this enlightening book. I certainly didn’t. In fact I was horrified. I’d heard of the Spanish Inquisition but really didn’t know much about it. Well, if I hadn’t already evolved into a non-practising Catholic over the years, coupled with what we are learning about the Catholic clergy these days, I would definitely not have wanted to identify as Catholic. The book starts rather benignly: a sweet sad love story between an edu Catholic readers might not like what I discovered about Mother Church in this enlightening book. I certainly didn’t. In fact I was horrified. I’d heard of the Spanish Inquisition but really didn’t know much about it. Well, if I hadn’t already evolved into a non-practising Catholic over the years, coupled with what we are learning about the Catholic clergy these days, I would definitely not have wanted to identify as Catholic. The book starts rather benignly: a sweet sad love story between an educated young woman and a man training for the priesthood. Their differing views on good and bad separate them. Up until that point, the story isnt especially exciting. But once the young man leaves the seminary to become a notary for the Inquisition, wow...does the pace, content and plot pick up speed. This book is one I won’t forget soon...and it’s the first of a trilogy. Fascinating, enlightening read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Corrine Cassels

    What a surprising gem of a book. I absolutely love historical fiction, it's probably one of my favorite genres. This is the best historical fiction novel I've read in a while. The characters are brilliantly developed, it's extremely historically accurate and it's got a great take on the human experience. The genius of the story was how the two main characters were able to reconcile religion with love without having to compromise anything. I was totally blindsided by how much I loved this book. I What a surprising gem of a book. I absolutely love historical fiction, it's probably one of my favorite genres. This is the best historical fiction novel I've read in a while. The characters are brilliantly developed, it's extremely historically accurate and it's got a great take on the human experience. The genius of the story was how the two main characters were able to reconcile religion with love without having to compromise anything. I was totally blindsided by how much I loved this book. I can't wait to read the next one in the series!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tony Parsons

    Figueira harbor town (Mondego River), Portugal. Luis Coelho (1529-, former sailor) married Catalina (wife) & became a longshoreman to support the family. They named their baby boy Aristides “Ari” Coelho. The Black Plague epidemic came upon the town & killed Ari’s (12) parents. He moved in with his Uncle/Aunt & 6 children in Figueira, Portugal. Father Affonso (55+) took Ari (seminarian) under his wings. 1/1/1569, Coimbra, C. Portugal. Great Hall of Acts. The Feast of the Circumcision & Naming of Jes Figueira harbor town (Mondego River), Portugal. Luis Coelho (1529-, former sailor) married Catalina (wife) & became a longshoreman to support the family. They named their baby boy Aristides “Ari” Coelho. The Black Plague epidemic came upon the town & killed Ari’s (12) parents. He moved in with his Uncle/Aunt & 6 children in Figueira, Portugal. Father Affonso (55+) took Ari (seminarian) under his wings. 1/1/1569, Coimbra, C. Portugal. Great Hall of Acts. The Feast of the Circumcision & Naming of Jesus is celebrated each year. Diego Lopes (father, Christian merchant) was hoping a wealthy eligible suitor would pick Maria Lopes (daughter, dancer, linguistics, mathematics) to be his wife. The orchestra began playing, the food/drink was brought out on fancy silver platters Ari had danced with Maria & approached Diego. 6-months Ari (notary of the secret) would take his vow for celibacy & become a priest & do missionary work. The black-hooded torturer entered the room. She confessed that she had fasted on Yom Kippur. Isabel Martinez (13, daughter, juvenile prisoner) life was taken. More cases of Judaizer were coming about. Jorge Vaaz was next, then Diego Lopes. 1761, 16th Century. Coimbra, Portugal. Rabbi Elisha ben Avuya (Grand Inquisitor of Pinhanços) watched as Diego Lopes (45, Pinhanços) was brought into the court room. Diego was chained to a stake & a fire was lit. 1,000 of citizens watched him just vanish up into the smoke. What was doing to Senhora Lopes (farmer) & Maria doing to Gonçallves (Gasper)? Father Chico & Brother Ari would come see them tomorrow. Where would Ari’s journey take him next? I do not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing free books from publishers & authors. Therefore, I am under no obligation to write a positive review, only an honest one. An awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A very professionally written 16th century Portuguese historical religious fictional book. It was quite easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a huge description list of unique characters, settings, facts etc. to keep track of. This could also make another great 16th-century Portuguese religious movie, or better yet a mini-TV series. I’m not sure I captured the full story content. That said I will still rate it at 4/5 stars. Thank you for the free author; &M Publishers; Goodreads; MakingConnections; Making Connections discussion group talk; Amazon Digital Services LLC.; book Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

  12. 4 out of 5

    J. Else

    Portugal, 16th century. Aristides is a seminary student when he first meets Maria Lopes. Maria’s father, Diego, is a wealthy merchant from a New Christian family who soon comes under the Inquisition’s scrutiny. When Diego is arrested, Maria realizes she will need a miracle to save him from the direst of punishments, the auto da fe. But Diego Lopes’s burning at the stake is one of legend. According to witness accounts, while tied to a lit pyre, Lopes vanished before the eyes of thousands. Was he Portugal, 16th century. Aristides is a seminary student when he first meets Maria Lopes. Maria’s father, Diego, is a wealthy merchant from a New Christian family who soon comes under the Inquisition’s scrutiny. When Diego is arrested, Maria realizes she will need a miracle to save him from the direst of punishments, the auto da fe. But Diego Lopes’s burning at the stake is one of legend. According to witness accounts, while tied to a lit pyre, Lopes vanished before the eyes of thousands. Was he dragged to hell as his accusers believed, or could the ingenuity of a few brave souls make the impossible possible? The story begins with a hefty dose of matter-of-fact exposition, stunting the book’s early momentum. Thankfully, as chapters progress, well-rounded characters and a budding romance enrich the storyline. The inner workings of the Inquisition and the boiling tension in Portugal at that time are intricately explored. Elsant not only brings to life the Inquisition’s methods but also the chilling reasonings (more aptly described as “excuses”) behind such cruelty. Tensions are high for everyday citizens as rivalries over business and/or land can end with a baseless accusation of practicing Judaism. There are somewhat gruesome medical and scientific experiments (especially if you have a fondness for pigs) that occasionally stretch beyond the realm of belief for the time. Elsant’s introduction mentions how some of the science was only remotely possible at the time Diego’s story takes place; however, these elements factor heavily into the second half of the story. Elsant’s narrative shines the most during heartfelt moments when Aristides and Maria try to reconcile their faith in the midst of devastating cruelties. A clutch of enjoyable main characters helps balance the narrative’s darker aspects. Overall, a well-researched time period and setting create an emotionally engaging narrative. Review originally posted via the Historical Novel Society at https://historicalnovelsociety.org/re...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Aird

    Faith, Hope and Love Acts of Faith: Part One of the Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant is a beautifully written love story about faith, commitment and love. The year is 1569. It is a time of simplicity, new discoveries (cocoa was a new commodity), the power of the Catholic Church was in full display, and there were marked lines between the haves and have-nots. It was also during the height of the Portuguese Inquisition where the Catholic Church was endeavoring to root out those who lived contrary Faith, Hope and Love Acts of Faith: Part One of the Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant is a beautifully written love story about faith, commitment and love. The year is 1569. It is a time of simplicity, new discoveries (cocoa was a new commodity), the power of the Catholic Church was in full display, and there were marked lines between the haves and have-nots. It was also during the height of the Portuguese Inquisition where the Catholic Church was endeavoring to root out those who lived contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The main actions of those being investigated were the possible religious crimes of Judaizing, bigamy and witchcraft. In front of this backdrop a tender love story unfolds between a promising seminarian student, Ari, and a beautiful aristocratic young lady by the name of Maria. Their relationship blossoms, but unfortunately the brother of Diego Lopes (Maria's father), has died at the hands of the inquisitors. Her uncle's death places a significant theological strain upon the beliefs between Maria and Ari which results in their separation and journey on separate paths leading to a miracle. Acts of Faith: Part One of the Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant is an engaging novel that is sure to stimulate the heart, mind and faith of the reader. The narrative involving the developing relationship between Ari and Maria is light, sensitive, flirty and humorous. However, in stark contrast the methods, motives and description of the inquisition process are disturbing. Combined together the author has shared a story that is sure to inspire the reader through the narrative of love, joy, pain, suffering and commitment to one's belief.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linda Galella

    Everything you tho’t you knew about the Spanish Inquisition and then some ~ “Acts of Faith”, part 1 by Martin Elsant, is an intriguing book. It begins with an info dump that is a bit overwhelming, but don’t be too quick to tune out. The details Elsant gathered for us to ponder are head shakers, many of them, casting light on the Catholic Church they’d rather have been left extinguished. If this was taught to me in school, I missed it! The characters, altho’ fictional, are based on real people as Everything you tho’t you knew about the Spanish Inquisition and then some ~ “Acts of Faith”, part 1 by Martin Elsant, is an intriguing book. It begins with an info dump that is a bit overwhelming, but don’t be too quick to tune out. The details Elsant gathered for us to ponder are head shakers, many of them, casting light on the Catholic Church they’d rather have been left extinguished. If this was taught to me in school, I missed it! The characters, altho’ fictional, are based on real people as the events are real as well. Elesant’s keen interest in the Jewish faith and experience adds a perspective to the history that gives the story a well rounded and complete tenor. It’s easy to recognize the crimes being committed and who the real criminals are. Common folks didn’t stand a chance against the church and social class wasn’t much help, as the church was desperate for money and the Inquest was a ready source. Very detail oriented, it’s easy to recognize that the author is also a doctor. Some of that minutia causes the book to get bogged down with long explanations and history dumps. The story is so compelling that I found it frustrating these places couldn’t be interspersed more comfortably throughout the text; it’s fiction - not a history book! As the title proclaims, this is part 1 of a trilogy and it’s exceedingly interesting. Part 2, “Acts of Hope” was released 9/15/20 and is available on Kindle Unlimited or the bargain price of .99 - I just ordered my copy📚 Read & Reviewed from a GoodReads Giveaway

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristine D

    Romance, History, Intrigue This book took me by surprise. Not only is it well written and well edited, but it’s engrossing entertaining! I’m not one for ancient history, but the author ties in the history of the Inquisition and other religious history well, so that reading the book doesn’t feel like a history lesson. Ari and Maria are likable characters, and you root for them to find a successful relationship. Obstacles great and small get in their way, as it does, but as a reader you never lose h Romance, History, Intrigue This book took me by surprise. Not only is it well written and well edited, but it’s engrossing entertaining! I’m not one for ancient history, but the author ties in the history of the Inquisition and other religious history well, so that reading the book doesn’t feel like a history lesson. Ari and Maria are likable characters, and you root for them to find a successful relationship. Obstacles great and small get in their way, as it does, but as a reader you never lose hope that love will win the day. Romances often go too far with the challenges couples face, and some things are unforgivable. There’s a good balance here, though, that makes this a satisfying read. I will say, the first chapter is long winded. There is far more backstory in this one chapter to get us to the point where Ari and Maria meet than is strictly necessary. Much of this can be cut out, and it could be a deterrent for other readers, particularly those who decide whether to continue with books based on the first few pages. I admit, I almost gave up too. But, once you get past that first chapter, the book takes off and you find yourself so immersed in the story you don’t realize how long you’ve been reading. Well-paced and told with clear expertise, I recommend this book to anyone who like romance, history, and mystery!

  16. 4 out of 5

    McKena Johnson

    An interesting mixture of contemporary writing with a historical context, Elsant has crafted a riveting story that gives life to the tragically true accounts of a dark era of Christendom; with characters that help put the reader in the midst of the happenings. Elsant did a beautiful job of remaining true to the historical facts while simultaneously taking creative liberties to convey those facts to the reader in a way that would be understood and felt. The only negatives I have for the book are An interesting mixture of contemporary writing with a historical context, Elsant has crafted a riveting story that gives life to the tragically true accounts of a dark era of Christendom; with characters that help put the reader in the midst of the happenings. Elsant did a beautiful job of remaining true to the historical facts while simultaneously taking creative liberties to convey those facts to the reader in a way that would be understood and felt. The only negatives I have for the book are that there were inconsistencies when it came to translating the foreign language terms for the various events and locations used throughout the book; and although I enjoyed the story immensely I cannot give it a 5 star rating due to multiple grammatical errors. Such as missing words, word repetitions, etc.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ravin Maurice

    While it started off slow, Elsant takes his time to really set the stage of this engrossing and well crafted tale. Once the stage is set it really picks up and you are immediately swept into Ari and Maria's story, which ends up ultimately being about what happens when Maria's father Diego is arrested as a result of the Spanish Inquisition. Elsant has done his homework and this novel is rich with historical details, and I really appreciate his effort to make this book not entirely about religion While it started off slow, Elsant takes his time to really set the stage of this engrossing and well crafted tale. Once the stage is set it really picks up and you are immediately swept into Ari and Maria's story, which ends up ultimately being about what happens when Maria's father Diego is arrested as a result of the Spanish Inquisition. Elsant has done his homework and this novel is rich with historical details, and I really appreciate his effort to make this book not entirely about religion but about people. I really liked the character of Chico, the monk/scientist that Ari studies with and is incredibly helpful in the end. I recommend this book to historical fiction fans and people interested in the Spanish Inquisition from a different perspective.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dee DeTarsio

    When I read that the author based his novel on real Inquisition transcripts, I was in! This tough story is told so beautifully through the eyes of lovely and accessible characters—Ari, Chico, and Maria. Acts of Faith, auto de fe, is an engrossing plot from such a disturbing time. (I love historical fiction novels, and feel like this inquisition story line from the 16th Century in Portugal is humanized and brought to life, just as Philippa Gregory recreates the Tudor times.) The story builds to a When I read that the author based his novel on real Inquisition transcripts, I was in! This tough story is told so beautifully through the eyes of lovely and accessible characters—Ari, Chico, and Maria. Acts of Faith, auto de fe, is an engrossing plot from such a disturbing time. (I love historical fiction novels, and feel like this inquisition story line from the 16th Century in Portugal is humanized and brought to life, just as Philippa Gregory recreates the Tudor times.) The story builds to a “miracle” escape with a clever twist, to the nice surprise of the continuation of the name Aristides, who did go on to do great things, centuries later.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    An Interesting Book I have to admit that it took me a few chapter to really start to enjoy this book. Up until halfway through, I wasn't even sure if I would read the other two books when they became available. I will definitely be doing just that. The explanation for Diego's "disappearance" was both interesting and believable. The only reason I didn't give five stars is because of some of the animal "stuff". I understand it was necessary, but it just made me a little uncomfortable. I just have o An Interesting Book I have to admit that it took me a few chapter to really start to enjoy this book. Up until halfway through, I wasn't even sure if I would read the other two books when they became available. I will definitely be doing just that. The explanation for Diego's "disappearance" was both interesting and believable. The only reason I didn't give five stars is because of some of the animal "stuff". I understand it was necessary, but it just made me a little uncomfortable. I just have one question, when does the next book come out?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Slow start to book but I was pleasantly surprised with rest of the book. We think of modern inventions and concepts taking form in our lifetime. Surely we are smarter than people in year 1020, 1400, 1700? Hard to believe that there were thinkers in those years. Also there are always people who wish to make others adhere to their beliefs by force. Surely the inquisitions of Portugal and elsewhere are an example of the worst of us. "An Act of faith"? No, a mockery of faith. Diego Lopes was a good Slow start to book but I was pleasantly surprised with rest of the book. We think of modern inventions and concepts taking form in our lifetime. Surely we are smarter than people in year 1020, 1400, 1700? Hard to believe that there were thinkers in those years. Also there are always people who wish to make others adhere to their beliefs by force. Surely the inquisitions of Portugal and elsewhere are an example of the worst of us. "An Act of faith"? No, a mockery of faith. Diego Lopes was a good man and good father who was the recipient of an amazing "miracle". Together with Ari and Maria, it was a wild ride. Interesting book and I recommend it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    gj indieBRAG

    We are proud to announce that ACTS OF FAITH: Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deklyn Jessen

    Beautiful educational story This has become one of my favorite stories. I love how the author talked about the background of the main characters parents in the first chapter. Even though I felt like the story moved kind of slow in the middle it was still really entertaining to read. The ending was very exciting and was written very well. The chemistry between the characters was amazing. And they were each written and described very well!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pegboard

    Acts of Faith by Martin Elsant is a remarkable fictional work that illustrates the prejudice and torture the Jewish people faced by the hand of Catholics in the 1860s. Just the rumor of being Jewish had the Bishop, Priests, and Inquisitor seeking your confession, especially if you are rich. In this novel, a young man, Ari, is preparing to take his vows of celibacy and dedicated to serve the church, when he is asked to give a prayer to bless a celebration. At this party, he meets Maria Lopes. She Acts of Faith by Martin Elsant is a remarkable fictional work that illustrates the prejudice and torture the Jewish people faced by the hand of Catholics in the 1860s. Just the rumor of being Jewish had the Bishop, Priests, and Inquisitor seeking your confession, especially if you are rich. In this novel, a young man, Ari, is preparing to take his vows of celibacy and dedicated to serve the church, when he is asked to give a prayer to bless a celebration. At this party, he meets Maria Lopes. She challenges his devotion, loyalty, and faith. Martin Elsant reveals the horrors dealt to anyone that displeases the Catholic Church and its leaders at a time in history that was often run by the church. Acts of Faith is an amazing novel that will cause the reader to reflect on their own devotion and beliefs. It amazed me the steps people would take to control lands, wealth, and people. The fear that dominated the lay people was depressing. I loved this novel and look forward to the second book. I wish I could give it ten stars, absolutely amazing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ellen doValle

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Weintrob

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  28. 4 out of 5

    DEE

  29. 5 out of 5

    valerie tauby

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amber

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