The Devils of Cardona
The gripping story of the dangerous high-stakes worlds of politics and religion in sixteenth-century Spain as a mysterious Muslim killer retaliates against the Catholic Church. 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.

The Devils of Cardona Details

TitleThe Devils of Cardona
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 14th, 2016
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN-139781101982730
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Cultural, Spain, Mystery Thriller, Novels

The Devils of Cardona Review

  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the best historical mysteries that I have read in a long time. I would rank it up there with C.J. Sansom who is my favorite writer of the genre. It is thickly plotted with characters who come to life and details of the period that were incredibly interesting. It is set in 1584 in Spain during the times of the Inquisition. I have to be honest and admit that I know next nothing about either the times or setting so everything was a revelation to me. A corrupt priest is murdered in h This is one of the best historical mysteries that I have read in a long time. I would rank it up there with C.J. Sansom who is my favorite writer of the genre. It is thickly plotted with characters who come to life and details of the period that were incredibly interesting. It is set in 1584 in Spain during the times of the Inquisition. I have to be honest and admit that I know next nothing about either the times or setting so everything was a revelation to me. A corrupt priest is murdered in his church and King Phillip II sends a local magistrate, Bernardo de Mendoza, to investigate. It's an area where "old Christians" and forced converted Muslims, known as Moriscos, barely co-exist. The King's daughter is set to get married there in the next year and he wants the lands peaceful. The Muslims are forced to convert to Catholicism giving up their life, their clothes, their food and made to live in real poverty. Occasionally an Inquisitor will wander by and force a Morisco to eat pork or recite Latin verses and then arrest, torture, and kill him. I found this compelling reading especially with the events going on today. Animosity between Christians and Muslims certainly has a long history. Mendoza is scrupulously honest and his investigation takes him from the palace of the Countess of Cardona to a lowly hut of sheepherders. The attention to detail is meticulous from the dinner of peacock with almond sauce at the palace to the grubby stew at a shepherd's hut. There are lots of murders, rebellions and attacks and Mendoza tries to pull all the threads together to solve the unrest problem that started with the priest's murder. As we unravels the threads the conspiracy goes higher and higher and Mendoza is in a dangerous position that could cost him his life. This is a fascinating read, well written, with a complex plot that leaves you holding your breath again and again. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    Caballeros del sabio púrpuraThere's this federal law enforcement officer and his posse, which includes the officer’s roguish but good-hearted cousin as jovial side-kick, sent into the mountains to bring the benefits of white men’s justice to the natives of the region. There's this evil, scheming bigot who is in league with the big local land owner, both of whom for their own reasons want the natives blamed for murder and highway robbery. There's this beautiful young widow who is the object of lu Caballeros del sabio púrpuraThere's this federal law enforcement officer and his posse, which includes the officer’s roguish but good-hearted cousin as jovial side-kick, sent into the mountains to bring the benefits of white men’s justice to the natives of the region. There's this evil, scheming bigot who is in league with the big local land owner, both of whom for their own reasons want the natives blamed for murder and highway robbery. There's this beautiful young widow who is the object of lust and greed who, along with her trusted natives, need protection. Sound familiar?What’s the inverse of a Spaghetti Western? Perhaps this book in which the frontier-plot that has been hashed out in dozens of films and countless television series is projected back from 19th century Texas to 16th century Spain. The hero is the honest representative of the King, but hardly differs from your average federal marshal. The bigot is a Dominican inquisitor rather than an arrogant white settler or Baptist Minister. The land owner an Aragonese noble rather than a mere land-baron. And the natives are Moriscos, that is Muslims who have been coerced into adopting Christianity (so-called New Christians), who substitute rather seamlessly for the Cheyennes of the Apaches in tales of the old American West.The hero is of course thrown into a political tangle of which he is largely unaware, regardless of how apparent the situation is to any reader who has even heard of Zane Grey (Indeed The Riders of the Purple Sage could well be the crib for this book). Just as obvious is the source of the criminality in the local noble family which uses suspicion of the Moriscos to further their plan to acquire both the widow and her ‘spread’. There is no real moral content. As in any Western, Good and Evil are not difficult to distinguish from the start; the question is never what rightness might consist in but by what combination of fortune and true blue integrity will prevail when the mettle of the hero has been tested. The sub-plots of love affairs, hidden parentage and institutional corruption are equally banal and predictable. The cultural and political background of 16th century Spain – which along with travel description of the Spanish countryside is spread liberally throughout the book - is mildly interesting but hardly worth the price of admission in terms of the time necessarily invested in 400 pages. One is perhaps surprised at the persistence of Moorish culture so long after the Muslim expulsion, or the prevelance of the culture and the Morisco population in Northern Aragon, right up to the Pyrenees, well into the late 16th century. But such things, for the amateur, would be much more easily gleaned from a quick consultation of Wikipedia.There must be a reason why this sort of backwards-projection historical novel gets written, published, and read. Perhaps the sheer predictability of the story and its characters is comforting or reassuring. In any case, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly probably has greater literary merit.
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  • Steven Z.
    January 1, 1970
    Toward the end of the late 16th century the reign of Philip II of Spain and ruler of the Hapsburg lands of Central Europe seemed threatened by external and domestic forces. Externally, Queen Elizabeth of England worked to undermine his kingdom by supporting pirates and the armies of William of Orange as the Dutch continued their revolt against the Spanish monarch. Across the Pyrenees, the King of France also did his best to cause difficulties for Philip. Internally, Phillip had to deal with Mori Toward the end of the late 16th century the reign of Philip II of Spain and ruler of the Hapsburg lands of Central Europe seemed threatened by external and domestic forces. Externally, Queen Elizabeth of England worked to undermine his kingdom by supporting pirates and the armies of William of Orange as the Dutch continued their revolt against the Spanish monarch. Across the Pyrenees, the King of France also did his best to cause difficulties for Philip. Internally, Phillip had to deal with Moriscos, Moslems or Moors who had converted to Catholicism to avoid the punishment of the Inquisition. This time period serves as the backdrop for Matthew Carr’s wonderful new novel, THE DEVILS OF CARDONA, an exploration of the social, economic, and political forces at work in Philip II’s kingdom through a plot centering on the murder of a despised Catholic priest, Padre Juan Panalle in the Belmar de la Sierra, an area in north eastern Spain near the French border. Panalle was a despicable character who used his flock, mostly converted Moslems, to meet his sexual and economic needs. Officials in Madrid had grown increasingly concerned about the Moslem threat and ordered Licenciado Bernardo Francisco Baldini de Mendoza a young judicial official to travel from his home in Valladolid in Castile to the site of the murder in Aragon and arrest and convict the guilty party.Mendoza is a fascinating character who had witnessed the work of the Inquisition as a youngster and was still subjected to nightmares as an adult. He never imagined that he would be part of the legal system that the Inquisition dominated during his career. The instructions he received seemed clear, but as his work began his charge seemed much more complex than he was led to believe. First, he had to deal with the goals of the Inquisition and its emissary, Mercader. Second, was the government’s jurisdiction in Belmar, which fell under the auspices of the Countess of Cardona who had full jurisdiction over her kingdom that included Inquisitors and his Majesty’s own officials dating back to 1085, and recently renewed by Charles V in 1519. Many of her vassals were Moriscos and she believed in bringing her subjects to Catholicism through acts of kindness, not the hammer blows of the Inquisition. Mercader is convinced that the Countess is secretly allowing her subjects to maintain their Islamic faith, a charge that she vehemently denies. Third, upon traveling to Cardona, Mendoza learned of the murder of three brothers which seemed to be an act of revenge perpetrated by Moslems. Fourth, a vicious plot perpetuated by one of Philip II’s counselors who sought to enrich himself by acquiring the Cardona estates. Lastly, Mendoza was exposed to the threat of a supposed Moslem “redeemer,” who sought to avenge the work of the Inquisition and retake Spain from Philip II and reinstitute Islamic rule.Carr does a magnificent job of capturing the essence of late 16th century Spain. The cultural conflict between the Castilian and Aragonese regions is presented accurately as is the corrupt nature of the clergy, as well as the political and religious machinations of Philip II’s kingdom that greatly contribute to the novel’s plot. The religious conflict between the Catholic Church and Islam dating back to the first half of the 16th century and the political problems between Castile and Aragon in particular are explored nicely through the many colorful characters Carr creates. The plot is further enhanced as the Countess of Cardona, a widow whose extensive holdings are sought by many men who see their own power and wealth threatened by her marriage status. By integrating “marriage diplomacy” into his story line, Carr heightens the reader’s understanding of events by placing them in their proper historical context.As the novel progresses Mendoza finds himself in a jurisdictional fight with Mercader and the Inquisition. Mercader has his own agenda that would allow him to rid Spain of the Moriscos and elevate himself in the eyes of Philip II. Murders keep piling up and the conflicts between vested interests dominate the novel as evidence of a real redeemer emerge, particularly when a Moslem family is massacred by a Catholic smuggling ring, creating further confusion. As Mendoza’s investigation continues it takes a number of unexpected turns that will capture the reader’s attention to the point they cannot put the book down. If you enjoy a good mystery enhanced by the sights and sounds of 16th century Spain, Carr’s effort will fascinate you.
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  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
    January 1, 1970
    The historical aspect was good, based, I think, on the author's previous nonfiction accounts of Spain in the late 15th and 16th centuries. So was the sense of place, because the Pyrenean region northeast of Zaragoza is quite distinct, and the author portrayed it accurately and in detail. The central plot issue, an alleged Morisco assault against the Old Christians led by a shadowy figure called the Redeemer, is a microcosm of the simmering suspicion against b0th the Moriscos--Muslim converts--an The historical aspect was good, based, I think, on the author's previous nonfiction accounts of Spain in the late 15th and 16th centuries. So was the sense of place, because the Pyrenean region northeast of Zaragoza is quite distinct, and the author portrayed it accurately and in detail. The central plot issue, an alleged Morisco assault against the Old Christians led by a shadowy figure called the Redeemer, is a microcosm of the simmering suspicion against b0th the Moriscos--Muslim converts--and the Marranos--Jewish converts--by not only the Crown but, more importantly, the Inquisition.Unfortunately, with such a solid grasp of the history and landscape, the author fails to develop his rather unwieldy cast of characters so that they stand out with some degree of individuality. I thought this issue made following the various subplots featuring the Morisco doctor, Segura, Judge Mendoza's sidekick, Ventura, his former comrade in arms from the Turkish wars, Calvo, and the widowed Countess of Cardona more difficult than it needed to be. All these people had the strong potential to become memorable three-dimensional actors in their times, but instead never rose beyond a brief and unsatisfying sketch.The mystery at the heart of the story is also more convoluted, more tangled and full of red herrings, and definitely more protracted than necessary. At times I felt as if I were wandering in a maze, with no standout character to guide me through it. So when the Big Reveal arrived, I found it unsatisfyingly flat.In spite of its flaws, I enjoyed this book. I also can recommend it, although I'd also recommend a brief preliminary read of a Wikipedia blurb about the 16th century in Spain, and a glance or two at a map of the area described in the book.Finally, I certainly think the author has considerable promise in the historical fiction genre, especially if he continues with Spain, which he clearly understands. He does need to work with a strong editor, however, in the areas of plotting and characterization.
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  • Dorothy
    January 1, 1970
    Matthew Carr has written several nonfiction books on historical subjects, including the Inquisition and the purging of Muslims from Spain in the 16th century. Now he has written his first novel, also dealing with that subject.The Devils of Cardona refer to the Moriscos who were Moors who were forced to convert to Christianity. But, as the book makes clear, they were not devils; they were just human beings trying to survive in the world and raise their families in peace. Peace, however, was in ve Matthew Carr has written several nonfiction books on historical subjects, including the Inquisition and the purging of Muslims from Spain in the 16th century. Now he has written his first novel, also dealing with that subject.The Devils of Cardona refer to the Moriscos who were Moors who were forced to convert to Christianity. But, as the book makes clear, they were not devils; they were just human beings trying to survive in the world and raise their families in peace. Peace, however, was in very short supply in the Spain of the 16th century.It was the time of the Spanish Inquisition, which nobody expected. (Sorry, Monty Python fans. I couldn't resist.) The Inquisition saw heresy and conspiracies everywhere and the Moriscos were easy scapegoats. They were persecuted unmercifully.The story here begins in 1584 when a priest in Aragon is murdered in his church. The church itself is desecrated with the walls defaced with Arabic words written in the priest's blood. The crime is blamed on Moriscos and the province's Inquisitor soon receives a letter that threatens to drive all Christians from the region by the same methods that were used to forceably convert the Moors. The letter is signed by someone who calls himself the Redeemer.Bernardo Mendoza, whose Jewish ancestors also were forced to convert, is a veteran of the wars that expelled the Moors from Granada and is now a criminal judge in the city of Valladolid, an important role in the Catholic Spanish government. He is sent to Aragon to solve the priest's murder and bring his killer(s) to justice. Mendoza takes with him his ward, a 17-year-old Moor whom he has raised as Christian, to serve as his scrivener and write his reports. Also in his entourage are his cousin Luis de Ventura, a professional soldier; Johannes Necker, a stern German constable; and two young soldiers who are to provide escort and protection. When Mendoza arrives in the town of Belamar de la Sierra where the priest was killed, he learns pretty quickly that no one mourns the dead man. He was a corrupt and lecherous man who preyed on the women of his town and had earned the enmity of all the townspeople.Mendoza also meets a greatly beloved local figure, the Countess of Cardona, who is a benevolent overlord to the region and is sympathetic to the Moriscos. He soon begins to suspect that the killing of the priest will not be a simple matter to unravel and, in that assumption, he is absolutely right.I thought Matthew Carr did an excellent job of bringing the late 16th century to life. It was a savage and terror-filled time and he does not shrink from describing some of the tortures of the Inquisition in all their gory detail. I did shrink, however, from reading those descriptions and I admit I skipped over a few pages to get to the end result. Many of the scenes are truly harrowing and hard to read about. Some of the vicious and sadistic inquisitors who presented themselves as God's judges on Earth do get their just rewards as the plot proceeds and it is difficult to feel any sympathy for their characters.All in all, this first novel was a creditable effort, although the plotting of the mystery at the center of the story was less successful than the descriptions of society and the culture of 16th century Spain. The solution to the question of who was responsible for the priest's death and other atrocities in the area seemed fairly obvious early on. Moreover, the writer stretched our credulity with the number of coincidences that were necessary to wrap everything up in a neat denouement. But endings can be difficult, even for experienced novelists.
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  • Jamie McMahan
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is a delightful read. A historical novel set during the Spanish Inquisition, the story follows its protagonist and his compatriots on their search for the murderer of a corrupt priest. While the plot on its face deals with a typical murder mystery, the reasons underlying the actions of the characters in the novel mirror issues that are present in headlines today, specifically religious and ethnic bigotry, violence and intolerance. One can't help but feel that the story not only offers This novel is a delightful read. A historical novel set during the Spanish Inquisition, the story follows its protagonist and his compatriots on their search for the murderer of a corrupt priest. While the plot on its face deals with a typical murder mystery, the reasons underlying the actions of the characters in the novel mirror issues that are present in headlines today, specifically religious and ethnic bigotry, violence and intolerance. One can't help but feel that the story not only offers an intriguing mystery, but also holds up a historical mirror to problems plaguing our society today.The author has penned an enjoyable and insightful mystery novel. I would have given it more than three stars had the author paid more attention to the old adage "the devil is in the details". While his description of renaissance Spain is well developed and intricate, he is slipshod from time to time with details in the actions of the characters in the book. As an example; in Chapter Fourteen a character loses his weapon, a crossbow, while retreating from pursuers, only to reach for and use the same weapon paragraphs later to ward off a wild animal. I found that I noticed several of these admittedly minor inconsistencies peppered throughout as I read the novel which are on their own perhaps inconsequential, but taken together slightly irked me as a reader that a better job hadn't been done reviewing and editing what would otherwise have been a perfectly stitched together and artfully written piece of fiction. Whether the fault for that lies with the author or his editor is really immaterial, because the novel is still an enjoyable, fast-paced read and definitely one I would recommend to those who are, like myself, fans of the historical mystery genre.
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  • Kat Christopoulos
    January 1, 1970
    The Devils of Cardona starts in the mode of a classic murder mystery but soon takes on a scale so epic that it takes on a genre all of its own. I read this book in a week and for that time was immersed in the late 16th century and transported to Spain. Carr manages to educate the reader about this complex period in Spanish history with the lightest of touches. You're never left confused but are equally never patronized and I was fascinated and engaged throughout. The host of characters is also i The Devils of Cardona starts in the mode of a classic murder mystery but soon takes on a scale so epic that it takes on a genre all of its own. I read this book in a week and for that time was immersed in the late 16th century and transported to Spain. Carr manages to educate the reader about this complex period in Spanish history with the lightest of touches. You're never left confused but are equally never patronized and I was fascinated and engaged throughout. The host of characters is also impressive; from the court of Philip II to the lowly hut of an itinerant worker, the reader sees all, and the world Carr has created seems almost palpable. One of the strongest aspects of this book is its examination of the religious tensions between the Catholics and Moriscos at the time of the Inquisition. At its heart the book is a plea for religious tolerance and show the horrors that follow narrow and self motivated ends done in the name of any religion. Still the tone is never didactic and whilst there are clear parallels to our own time, it's no mere allegory. Rather it is a tour de force that takes the reader on a thrilling and very rewarding adventure.
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  • James Old
    January 1, 1970
    Highly formulaic plot. Most of the "surprises" were predictable. The characters and dialogue did not seem true to the setting.
  • Carolyn Harris
    January 1, 1970
    This book was recommended to me by one the students in the history of Imperial Spain course that I taught earlier this year. An absorbing murder mystery set in rural Aragon during the reign of King Philip II amidst the preparations for the royal wedding of the king's daughter Catalina to the Duke of Savoy. The novel is well researched and captures the atmosphere of the sixteenth century Spanish kingdoms when the Inquisition was scrutinizing the behavior of Conversos (descendants of Jewish people This book was recommended to me by one the students in the history of Imperial Spain course that I taught earlier this year. An absorbing murder mystery set in rural Aragon during the reign of King Philip II amidst the preparations for the royal wedding of the king's daughter Catalina to the Duke of Savoy. The novel is well researched and captures the atmosphere of the sixteenth century Spanish kingdoms when the Inquisition was scrutinizing the behavior of Conversos (descendants of Jewish people who had converted to Christianity) and Moriscos (Former Muslims and their descendants who converted to Christianity) for signs of their former religious practices. The mystery itself was less compelling for me than the setting and historical context but the author maintains a consistent pace and I was interested in Magistrate Mendoza's investigation to the very end. The novel provides a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of King Philip II and I would have liked to have read more scenes set at the royal court.
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  • Mihir
    January 1, 1970
    Full review over at Fantasy Book CriticOVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: This book is a must read for all history fiction aficionados, set in the late sixteenth century Spain, we the readers are introduced to a land which is fraught with religious fervor, suspicion & persecution of the other as well as plain bigotry (laced by religion of course). The focus of the story is on Belamar de la Sierra, a small village/town in the Aragon province near the France-Spain border. There has been a brutal murder of an Full review over at Fantasy Book CriticOVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: This book is a must read for all history fiction aficionados, set in the late sixteenth century Spain, we the readers are introduced to a land which is fraught with religious fervor, suspicion & persecution of the other as well as plain bigotry (laced by religion of course). The focus of the story is on Belamar de la Sierra, a small village/town in the Aragon province near the France-Spain border. There has been a brutal murder of an allegedly corrupt Catholic priest and all fingers point towards the “moriscos” or converted Moorish Muslims. Our main protagonist is Bernardo de Mendoza, a veteran soldier of the Reconquista and who now serves as a magistrate (Licenciado).He gets tasked by King Philip II of Castile to investigate this murder and find out the killer(s). Mendoza sets out with a small company consisting of his page Gabriel, his cousin Luis de Ventura, and three other soldiers. When they arrive, they find the place to be rife with sectarian tensions and potential violence for the death of the priest who himself was involved in the death of a “Morisco” family. This story sets upon explaining the details of the Spanish Reconquista and what exactly does “Morisco” mean (Muslim Moors forcibly converted to Catholicism)? I loved the in-depth detail to the surroundings and history afforded by the author. The story is a murder mystery which reads very much like a thriller and there’s the usual cast of characters to help propagate the plot and tropes. Bernardo as a main character is a nuanced one, we get to know his background and family history which is fascinating in itself. It will be great if the author decides to make a series about him and some of the characters introduced within. The surrounding character cast however needs to be better developed as in this book, it all hinges on Bernardo's able shoulders. The author puts into play several plot threads which neatly come together in the end to make up a satisfying tapestry. I loved how neatly everything fell into place and didn’t seem contrived at all (Your mileage may vary on this point though). The best part part about the book is the author’s love and detailed descriptions of Spain in the sixteenth century. He very adroitly lets the readers know about the life and hardships that the people faced in those times while never making it an infodump or slackening the pace. The factoids and the history minutiae are neatly mixed in so as to make it seem completely natural. Kudos to the author for this aspect of the story. The author also mixes some nice action pieces within the mystery plot and for those readers who covet action, you will get it in spades towards the latter half of the book. CONCLUSION:Get ready to immerse yourself in a land that seems very much like any troubled piece to be found in recent times. There’s bigotry, xenophobia, violence but also bravery, honesty and simple good folk who are trying to survive these brutal times. This was one historical debut that I can’t recommend enough and Matthew Carr seems to be an author whose books I will not be missing out in the foreseeable future.
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  • Erika Schmid
    January 1, 1970
    When I first began this novel, I thought I would grow bored of it. The story was dense and I feared that it would ramble. However, I am delighted to be proven wrong as this was an entirely fascinating story that obliterated any preconceptions I held. I have read many novels that take place in the Pyrenees of France and Spain, though the vast majority of them in one way or another end up revolved around the Cathars. Again, I was so delighted to read a novel that took place in this region that was When I first began this novel, I thought I would grow bored of it. The story was dense and I feared that it would ramble. However, I am delighted to be proven wrong as this was an entirely fascinating story that obliterated any preconceptions I held. I have read many novels that take place in the Pyrenees of France and Spain, though the vast majority of them in one way or another end up revolved around the Cathars. Again, I was so delighted to read a novel that took place in this region that was not about the Cathars! Instead, it concerned the Muslim or Moorish population that lived there during the sixteenth century, in the wake of the expulsion by Ferdinand and Isabella and during the height of the Inquisition. Following a devious murder of a priest, the criminal judge Mendoza, with his escort, comes to Cardona to solve the plot that is afoot. I found it entirely amazing that the plot of murder and mayhem came second to the interworking characters in this novel. Truly, it was the characters who kept this alive and there were a lot of them to keep track of as this story continued to unravel. Above anything, I loved the small details that were given to each character, of either their times during wars fought against the Moors or even their reason for doing a single action. There were simply so many details and I greatly enjoyed each twist that was given. On that note: Lesbians during the Inquisition! More importantly, lesbians who triumphed despite the Inquisition! Alright, that is all, I was just really happy to see a proper and accurate sexual spectrum in these pages of history. Once again, I have been lost in the Pyrenees and I greatly enjoyed my stay. I absolutely loved that this was not at all what I usually read and yet also entirely what I usually read at the same time. This novel offered a comfortable setting within history that I have read of before and yet also threw in enough new elements and twists that I found it hard to put this down. Really, I thought I would trudge through this and I simply flew instead.
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  • Gregory
    January 1, 1970
    Matthew Carr's The Devils of Cardona is a murder mystery set in 1584 Spain. A priest has been murdered, then others are killed, and the question is whether moriscos, or Muslims forced to convert to Catholicism, are responsible. The Inquisition and its ideals are thus a key part of the story. It is a complicated--at times almost overly complicated--plot.It's a good story, though not a great one. The narrative of the lies behind what everyone does is compelling--the priests, the Inquisitors, the i Matthew Carr's The Devils of Cardona is a murder mystery set in 1584 Spain. A priest has been murdered, then others are killed, and the question is whether moriscos, or Muslims forced to convert to Catholicism, are responsible. The Inquisition and its ideals are thus a key part of the story. It is a complicated--at times almost overly complicated--plot.It's a good story, though not a great one. The narrative of the lies behind what everyone does is compelling--the priests, the Inquisitors, the investigators, the seemingly pious women, the forced converts, everyone hides behind facades. And the irrational fear of Muslims is clearly intended to speak to the post-9/11 era as well.The protagonist, the judge Bernardo de Mendoza, is a well-rounded character, with enough contradictions to keep him interesting. The story has a few too many TV-ish rescues, but it's worth it. If Carr writes another Mendoza book, I'd buy it. From http://weeksnotice.blogspot.com/2017/...
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  • Jacqueline
    January 1, 1970
    I read twenty pages and thought I couldn't continue. I picked the book up a few days later and started it from the beginning. Carr is an excellent writer. His usage of the languages places you easily in XVI century Spain. He uses beautiful sentences and his many metaphors are never tiring or distracting.At the start his command of the English language kept me reading. The story development kept my attention to the finish. I knew nothing of the Moriscos. It is amazing how history repeats itself. I read twenty pages and thought I couldn't continue. I picked the book up a few days later and started it from the beginning. Carr is an excellent writer. His usage of the languages places you easily in XVI century Spain. He uses beautiful sentences and his many metaphors are never tiring or distracting.At the start his command of the English language kept me reading. The story development kept my attention to the finish. I knew nothing of the Moriscos. It is amazing how history repeats itself. The players are different but the story is the same. The political interests, the corruption, the plots are repeated time and time again and we fall for them time and time again. We are living similar times. We never seem to learn. The description of difficult scenes such as water boarding are exceptional and disturbing for their realism.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Murders, intrigue, rebellious attacks, unrest following the death of the priest and thrilling adventure!!!The story in set in Hapsburg, Spain in medieval time. The time is about 1500 during the reign of King Philip II. The Inquisition is progressing along. A priest in the village of Aragon is murdered.Bernardo Mendoza who is prosecutor for the court is sent to investigate the happenings.The description is deftly making you feel as if you were there. The characters are bold and well defined. His Murders, intrigue, rebellious attacks, unrest following the death of the priest and thrilling adventure!!!The story in set in Hapsburg, Spain in medieval time. The time is about 1500 during the reign of King Philip II. The Inquisition is progressing along. A priest in the village of Aragon is murdered.Bernardo Mendoza who is prosecutor for the court is sent to investigate the happenings.The description is deftly making you feel as if you were there. The characters are bold and well defined. His research seems impeccable making for a fast paced, interesting read.Thank you to Penguin First To Read for this eBook. My opinion is my own.
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  • Nathaniel
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free as a Goodreads giveaway.I very much enjoyed this book and was really surprised to find that this is Matthew Carr's first novel. It was a very interesting (and engrossing) look at a time and place I did not previously know much about. I had gone into expecting more historical fiction (which it is), but did not expect it to be so much of a thriller and a page-turner. It was also surprisingly relatable to what is going on politically in the U.S. and the rest of the wor I received this book for free as a Goodreads giveaway.I very much enjoyed this book and was really surprised to find that this is Matthew Carr's first novel. It was a very interesting (and engrossing) look at a time and place I did not previously know much about. I had gone into expecting more historical fiction (which it is), but did not expect it to be so much of a thriller and a page-turner. It was also surprisingly relatable to what is going on politically in the U.S. and the rest of the world right now.
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  • Dqframey
    January 1, 1970
    There was probably a decent story somewhere in there, but I had trouble seeing it through the thicket of mediocre sentences and interchangeable characters.
  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsLiked it. A little long but had some good history parts to it. Mystery part ok.Main investigator characters were likeable.
  • OLT
    January 1, 1970
    Religion. What should be an uplifting, reassuring belief in a supreme being and a guide to living a righteous life unfortunately often becomes a justification for xenophobia and intolerance to those whose religious beliefs and experiences differ from our own. Matthew Carr's debut fiction work, a historical mystery/thriller, takes us to 1584 Spain, not a good time or place to be a Muslim, even a "morisco", a Moor converted to Catholicism.One could posit that this was just payback for the years of Religion. What should be an uplifting, reassuring belief in a supreme being and a guide to living a righteous life unfortunately often becomes a justification for xenophobia and intolerance to those whose religious beliefs and experiences differ from our own. Matthew Carr's debut fiction work, a historical mystery/thriller, takes us to 1584 Spain, not a good time or place to be a Muslim, even a "morisco", a Moor converted to Catholicism.One could posit that this was just payback for the years of Moorish control of the Iberian Peninsula which began in 711 A.D. until the final page of the Spanish Catholics' struggle to reconquer their lands, which in 1492 ended in the reconquest of the final southern bastions and the expulsion of Jews and the almost compulsory conversion of all Muslims to Christianity if they did not wish to face expulsion also. So now, in 1584, we have "moriscos" or New Christians and Catholics or Old Christian in a very fragile coexistence.The biggest obstacle to having this coexistence be peaceful was the Spanish Inquisition, especially cruel, intolerant, and unjust. In their persecution of any perceived slight to or lack of adherence to the Catholic faith they often arrested "moriscos" based on unfounded accusations bolstered by confessions taken under torture, not a very humane way to dole out justice and not a good way to encourage tolerance between the two groups.So there's not a lot of love lost between the "moriscos" and the Catholics in this debut mystery by Carr. In and near the mountain town Belamar de la Sierra, located in Aragon near the French border, there appears to be a morisco uprising spurred on by the mysterious "Redeemer". A corrupt Catholic priest has been brutally murdered. Bernardo de Mendoza, veteran of reconquest anti-Moorish battles and now a "licenciado", has been sent by the Spanish king to investigate.Mendoza takes only a handful of men: his young page Gabriel, two soldiers, one of whom is his cousin Luis de Ventura, a brave but reckless war veteran with a seeming death wish, and two Valladolid militiamen. This small retinue sets out north for the Pyrenees. Once they arrive, however, they find outright escalation of tensions, with what looks like retaliation by the Old Christians for the murder of the priest by slaughtering a "morisco" family.And the crimes don't stop there, with paybacks alternating between moriscos and Catholics. There's a huge cast of characters: members of the Spanish Inquisition, king's men, villagers both New and Old Christian, members of the landowning aristocracy, among them the widowed Countess of Cardona and the unsavory Baron Vallcarca, and many more. And what seem to be straightforward clashes between the two groups may have unexpected undercurrents, Mendoza finds as he and his men do their investigating.This was, of course, a very complicated time in Spanish history, between the 1492 fall of Granada and the 1609 expulsion of all Muslims from Spain, converted or otherwise. Carr has an extensive knowledge of this period of Spanish history and puts it to excellent use in his novel. This is a historical mystery with almost nonstop action/adventure. It's a very entertaining and educational read. Almost 5 stars for me. What made me hesitate to award 5 stars is that the characters, while interesting, are not as fully developed as I would have liked. I especially felt the lack in the main protagonist Mendoza.However, while this book may lack some character development, it certainly makes up for the lack by supplying the reader with a very complete and well-developed plot and mystery. That it is well-researched is a definite plus. As a fan of historical mystery series, I am wondering if Carr may be considering a series with his protagonist Mendoza. I would certainly welcome it.And, as a side note: I'm looking forward to the day when the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians isn't just in that popular and ubiquitous Cuban dish "moros y cristianos" (aka "congri") of black beans and rice.
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  • Israel Drazin
    January 1, 1970
    Devils in Cardona, where the devils are people of another religion, and Cardona is a rich area ruled by a beautiful relatively young widow, has been praised by many reviewers as being remarkably well-written, with compelling characters, and an interesting plot. The novel tells about a thirty-four-year-old judge who in late 16th century Spain is sent to investigate and discover who killed a local priest, a man who lied about many of his parishioners who refused to give him money and had them sent Devils in Cardona, where the devils are people of another religion, and Cardona is a rich area ruled by a beautiful relatively young widow, has been praised by many reviewers as being remarkably well-written, with compelling characters, and an interesting plot. The novel tells about a thirty-four-year-old judge who in late 16th century Spain is sent to investigate and discover who killed a local priest, a man who lied about many of his parishioners who refused to give him money and had them sentenced and imprisoned or killed by the inquisition, who slept with all the women he could find even wives, who berated Moriscos, and who was a drunk. The judge enters the Aragon area where most of the inhabitants are Moriscos, Muslims whom the Catholic Church forced to become Christian. The Aragones Moriscos were forcibly baptized in 1525. Many, if not most, of the Moriscos, continued to practice the Muslim faith, such as wearing white shirts on Fridays, refusing to eat pork, and being buried according to the Muslim practices. While the Church forcibly converted the Muslims they continued, like the priest, to mistreat them. They distinguished between old and new Christians and treated the Moriscos with suspicion. Many Moriscos despised and even hated Christians for what they were doing to them. The treatment included horrible torture to get even innocent Moriscos to admit they are performing Muslim practices and to tell the inquisition about other people doing so. The judge takes with him a young impressionable boy and his cousin who was once captured by Muslims and needed to serve as their slave for years until he escaped. He is a well-trained fighter and uses his skills in the area. He also took two soldiers. He encounters many unusual people during his investigation. There is the beautiful owner of the rich area who must bear a son. If she does not have a son, her land will be taken by the king. She is Christian, but she believes that people should be allowed to practice what they believe without any interference. She knows of Moriscos who practice their faith in secret. If the inquisition finds out what she is doing, she will be killed. There is vice and crime everywhere in the areaA nearby lord wants her to marry his son so that he can control her wealth. Both he and his son are vicious. They are doing all they can to force her to do their will.A rumor exists that there is a Muslim leader who is leading Muslims and killing Christians. While in the area, the judge hears about and investigates several more crimes allegedly committed by this leader and his group, including robberies and the rape of nuns. However, there is also the murder of close to a dozen members of a New Christian family, people who are Muslims in secret.This is Matthew Carr’s first full length novel and as I wrote, many have praised it.
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  • Peter Ackerman
    January 1, 1970
    The Devils of Cardona is a work of fiction by non-fiction author Matthew Carr. The author has, in the past, written about Muslim Spain and the eventual purging of members of that faith from the Christian backed Inquisition. Much of that history is interwoven into this dense novel.After the murder of a priest, in a village full of former Muslim converts a trusted, incorruptible magistrate Bernado de Mendoza is called to both solve the case and to temper any possibly uprising that might be in the The Devils of Cardona is a work of fiction by non-fiction author Matthew Carr. The author has, in the past, written about Muslim Spain and the eventual purging of members of that faith from the Christian backed Inquisition. Much of that history is interwoven into this dense novel.After the murder of a priest, in a village full of former Muslim converts a trusted, incorruptible magistrate Bernado de Mendoza is called to both solve the case and to temper any possibly uprising that might be in the works.During his early investigations there are more religious affiliated killings which takes the mystery to a deeper level of intrigue for the investigator. This novel is a deep and thrilling one, and I very much enjoyed the main character. I wish the book was tighter in plot and less dense. In my opinion, to a fault, the author delves deeply into the tone of the time period and the religious struggles going on. The enjoyable mystery gets lost in the deep history thrust upon the reader. Though the latter is necessary and helpful, I find that it gets in the way of an otherwise fine novel.Thankfully I got to reads this because Amazon Vine provided me with a copy to review. All that I was asked is that I leave an honest review, which is what I have done here.
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  • Jennifer Ramsey
    January 1, 1970
    The author did a horrible job of developing characters in the beginning, so it was hard to keep track of who was in what role in the government or church. About halfway through I started to recognize an internal conflict in one character, so he's basically the only one I remember - he wasn't even the main character. Because of the lack of character development, the ultimate plot reveal was not very informative because the author went through it quickly, and I had to sit and try and remember who The author did a horrible job of developing characters in the beginning, so it was hard to keep track of who was in what role in the government or church. About halfway through I started to recognize an internal conflict in one character, so he's basically the only one I remember - he wasn't even the main character. Because of the lack of character development, the ultimate plot reveal was not very informative because the author went through it quickly, and I had to sit and try and remember who each person was that was involved.The only reason it gets a second star is because it did do a good job of describing the tension between the state and the church during that time period.
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  • Ben Sharp
    January 1, 1970
    If you were a Moor living in Spain in the 16th century, I would venture to say that your life expectancy could be dramatically altered by an Inquisitor at a whim. Carr has very thoughtfully created that world, in all its drama and grotesqueness, introducing Licenciado Mendoza, our hero of sorts, to navigate a complex, fun historical mystery.My major complaint is that the complexity of the plot is tied up almost too neatly, due to a couple cliched contributions from an oafish son of one villain a If you were a Moor living in Spain in the 16th century, I would venture to say that your life expectancy could be dramatically altered by an Inquisitor at a whim. Carr has very thoughtfully created that world, in all its drama and grotesqueness, introducing Licenciado Mendoza, our hero of sorts, to navigate a complex, fun historical mystery.My major complaint is that the complexity of the plot is tied up almost too neatly, due to a couple cliched contributions from an oafish son of one villain and a few well-timed cavalry saves from Mendoza's coterie.Aside from that quibble, I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to more of Carr's writing.
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  • Larry
    January 1, 1970
    A different sort of mystery, set in late 16th century Spain. The chief protagonist, Mendoza, is a principled, persistent, and clever prosecutor/judge/investigator. There are several competing themes, including the justice, the Inquisition, religious intolerance, the lack of cohesion of Spain, and greed, among others. The main characters are well developed. The author does a good job of getting the reader to think in the terms of the era, so battles using swords, knives, and muzzle-loaded firearm A different sort of mystery, set in late 16th century Spain. The chief protagonist, Mendoza, is a principled, persistent, and clever prosecutor/judge/investigator. There are several competing themes, including the justice, the Inquisition, religious intolerance, the lack of cohesion of Spain, and greed, among others. The main characters are well developed. The author does a good job of getting the reader to think in the terms of the era, so battles using swords, knives, and muzzle-loaded firearms feel natural but not romanticized.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    In the mid 1500s, long after the Jews had been expelled from Spain, there were still lots of Moriscos living there – Moors (Muslim) who had accepted Christian baptism. As with the Jewish conversos, many of these Moriscos were Christian only on the surface, while secretly following their own faith at home. This rich & detailed historical fiction novel gives a fascinating picture of this historical situation, built around trying to solve the mystery of a priest's murder.
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  • Carolyn Eastman
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not a fan of historical fiction, much less historical procedurals/mysteries, but this one is beautifully done. Set in 16th-c. Spain amidst the Inquisition, and amidst great religious and political uncertainty as Spain sought to ensure full religious purity among peoples who used to be Muslim and Jewish, this is a rollicking good read with vivid characters and evil plotters. I took it with me on vacation -- it makes a perfect vacation book.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    An earnest novel with a huge cast of characters: a former soldier turned worldly judge, a beautiful countess with a secret, a naive/orphaned/devoted scribe, masked bandits, illiterate shepherds, an evil baron with a dissolute son, several curvaceous but unfaithful wives, a blackmailing priest and a wise Muslim doctor. In Spain during the Inquisition, it appears there was a lot of scheming, much bloodshed, and quite a bit of screwing around.
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  • Ruth Zaryski Jackson
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this historical thriller set in 16th century Aragon Spain. The characters are well drawn and with much historical detail the plot moves at a fast pace with intriguing elements of politics, religion, love and ruthless murders. I recommend this to history and mystery readers and anyone who enjoys a good story.
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  • Connie
    January 1, 1970
    This is an excellent work of historical fiction set in 1584 Spain. The judge who is the main character is sent on a mission after a priest is found brutally murdered in his church. I knew very little of this period in history before starting this book. Skillfully written. I'm looking forward to future books by this author.Highly recommended!
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  • Frank
    January 1, 1970
    What an amazingly put together novel. Absolutely among the best I've ever read on so many levels. This was one of those books that I started reading not knowing what to expect and was treated to a gem. That made it all the more exciting. This one will go on my bookshelf to read again---I'll have to resist lending it out.
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  • Valerie Allen
    January 1, 1970
    Meh. Pretty cliched story of good versus evil. I was interested in the 16th century Spanish setting, but there was not really enough nuanced description of that to be worth it. I listened to this as an audiobook (does that count on good reads? I’m counting it)- one highlight was listening to the deep voiced narrator read the flirtatious lady lines- haha!
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