Read The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain by Melanie Little Online


Fifteenth-century Spain is a richly multicultural society in which Jews, Muslims and Christians coexist. But under the zealous Christian Queen Isabella, the country abruptly becomes one of the most murderously intolerant places on Earth.It is in this atmosphere that the Benvenistes, a family of scribes, attempt to eke out a living. The family has a secret-they are conversoFifteenth-century Spain is a richly multicultural society in which Jews, Muslims and Christians coexist. But under the zealous Christian Queen Isabella, the country abruptly becomes one of the most murderously intolerant places on Earth.It is in this atmosphere that the Benvenistes, a family of scribes, attempt to eke out a living. The family has a secret-they are conversos: Jews who converted to Christianity. Now, with neighbours and friends turned into spies, fear hangs in the air.One day a young man is delivered to their door. His name is Amir, and he wears the robe and red patch of a Muslim. Fifteen-year-old Ramon Benveniste broods over Amir's easy acceptance into the family.Startling and dramatic events overtake the household, and the family is torn apart. One boy becomes enslaved; the other takes up service for the Inquisitors. Finally, their paths cross again in a stunningly haunting scene.Melanie Little has crafted a brilliant and elegantly written story in verse about one of the most politically complex and troubling times in human history-the Spanish Inquisition. Drawing on extensive research, Little creates memorable characters, captures the turbulent events of the period, and emblazons horrific images on readers' minds. It is the work of a master....

Title : The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781554511174
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 310 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain Reviews

  • Edward Sullivan
    2019-04-08 03:37

    Excellent historical fiction set during the Spanish Inquisition.

  • TheDragonThatReadsALot
    2019-04-09 21:42

    "Young boysbelieve falcons are noble. They are, after all, kept by kings. But here's how they train such a bird. Tie its feet to a stick.Strap leather blinders upon its poor eyes. When these come off, it has forgotten the whole notion of freedom." Very well researched, and written entirely in verse, "The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A story of Medieval Spain" told a realistic and heart-wrenching story of persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Despite the poetic verse, the plot progressed rather slowly, and at times I felt it lagging and dry. The ending was not quite what I expected; not for a lack of closure, but for the fact that the abrupt ending left me unsatisfied. I would have liked more unity from one part of the book to the next, as the narration switches from one of the main characters to the other--their stories could have better melded together by the end of the novel.Recommended for the factual information, but overall I it's a book I'd tell my past self to skip if I could go back to the moment I originally decided to read it.

  • kingshearte
    2019-03-29 05:57

    Fifteenth-century Spain is one of the most enlightened cultures on record - one in which Jews, Muslims, and Christians coexist within an atmosphere of respect. Then the zealous Queen Isabella enacts policies that put an abrupt end to the peace. Violence, mistrust, and intolerance shadow everyone as the Spanish Inquisition takes shape. In this fear-filled atmosphere, fifteen-year-old scribe Ramon Benveniste must hide the family's secret. They are conversos: Jews converted to Christianity.One day a young man is delivered to the door. Amir wears the robe and red patch of a Muslim. Soon, both Ramon and Amir are caught up in dramatic events they cannot escape.This book is very intriguing in premise, as it's all in blank verse. As you know, I'm not a big fan of poetry, but this was OK. What's interesting about it is that it proves that when you tell an author that they can cut more, they can. Seriously, this story was cut to down to the bare minimum, without much description, localization, etc. that normally fills out most books. Each section, most no longer than a page, is just a quick snippet of what the narrator's thoughts are at a given moment. And it's a testament to Little's skills that she's able to do this without ever leaving the reader lost or confused by what's going on. It was very well done.As for the story itself, it really was a barbaric period in history, made all the more so in contrast to what came just before it. Little did a really good job of telling this story through the eyes of two very small characters, and getting across the overwhelmingness of the situation, and the helplessness of the people before it. I truly felt for these people, even Ramon when he was being an arrogant ass.I also actually kind of like the fact that it didn't end entirely neatly. There was a satisfying endpoint, but it didn't resolve everything, they didn't get a nice, pat "and then they lived happily ever after" ending, but it wasn't left hopeless, either. It just had the same feeling as the rest of the book: that this was a snippet of these people's lives. There's more to them, obviously, but this is the piece you get, and I liked that.I think this book makes a great young person's introduction to medieval Spanish history, and the Inquisition, and is an excellent lesson in tolerance and acceptance of other people. Which makes it sound like a dull shlock-fest, but it definitely isn't. Great book. Read it.

  • Canadian Children's Book Centre
    2019-03-28 21:50

    This is a haunting tale of two boys living in Spain during the dark and dangerous times of the Spanish Inquisition. The first, Ramon, is a scribe like his father. Together father and son eke out a meager living by lovingly, painstakingly copying the words of others. But paper, like so many things, grows scarcer with each passing day. Finding paper is particularly difficult for Ramon and his father because they are conversos, Christians whose ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity on pain of death. These questionable origins are enough to raise the suspicions of the Inquisitors. The second boy is Amir, a Moorish slave, given as a gift to Ramon’s father. From the moment of his arrival, Ramon resents this new addition to their household. In truth, he is jealous of the close relationships that Amir forms with both Ramon’s parents. Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changes for both boys. Ramon is hired to be a scribe for the Inquisition and Amir, while on an errand for Ramon, is forced to flee without a word to anyone. The years that follow are difficult ones for these two young men but fate ensures that their paths will cross again. This novel in verse creates a richly atmospheric portrait of Spain during a time of upheaval and uncertainty when people were being encouraged to spy on friends and neighbours and to report the merest hints of heresy or transgression. It is a time of tension and fear and deep distrust, a time that makes it increasingly difficult to remain true to oneself in the face of betrayal, lies and persecution. Melanie Little adeptly weaves historical information into her tale to fashion a more complete picture of the period, and the poems that make up the story are evocative in their simplicity and spareness. This book is a magnificent achievement, a saga that will utterly immerse readers in this troubled time, and in the quiet desperation of these two boys.Reviewed by Lisa Doucet in Canadian Children's Book NewsSpring 2008 VOL.31 NO.2

  • Caitlin Perry
    2019-04-06 03:45

    MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!I’m a sucker for a story in verse. There’s something about combining two written art forms into one compelling story that I can’t say no to. The Apprentice’s Masterpiece by Melanie Little is one such masterpiece itself. The verse almost lends itself to the story, all flowing together into one story as a whole but being able to be broken down into individual stories by both section and verses. Because of this it is easy to put down if you have to, but just as easy to read through in one sitting, as I nearly did.Following the lives of two young men during the Spanish Inquisition, this story was both a high and a low for me. In the first and third parts, which followed Ramon, I was fascinated by his craft as a scribe and the struggles of living in a once Jewish family during the Inquisition. The second part, which follows Amir, had a drastic change in tone from Ramon’s parts, which I appreciated since it is the same author for the whole, but I found it harder to get into. This middle section was almost drier and more straight-forward, like a statement of facts in verse.Additionally, I would have liked to know more about Ramon’s last masterpiece, which we only get snippets of before it is completely lost, like all of his works. And while I would be able to appreciate the symbolism of the constant loss and various sacrifices, I mostly just wanted to know what all those little stories were. I was also frustrated by the ending, which felt very abrupt and left me very confused and wanting more.Overall the story was a back and forth of emotions for me, but was an interesting way to tell the story of the people who lived during the Inquisition, and I thought the format lent itself to that well. However, my intrigue only went so far. Basically I liked it, but I didn't love it, and I could see how more avid fans of the historical fiction genre could really enjoy it.

  • Ashley Newell
    2019-04-22 04:52

    I woke up this morning, wide awake, but not wanting to rise yet. So I decided that it was time to pull "The Apprentice's Masterpiece" off of the shelf. I thought I'd read a few pages, wanting to read this book but after discovering that the story was written not only in verse but actually broken up into small poems, I thought the flow would be forced, unnatural to me, and that it would be several days taking it one poem at a time before I'd mark this book as "read". Little did I know that I would absorb each page and and finish before lunch. This morning I followed the lives of two young men living in an unforgiving world. The Spanish Inquisition turned neighbour against neighbour, preaching fear, and schooling children in images of blood and torture. Ramon's family followed the rules. Convert now and end your Jewish heresy. So they obeyed willingly. But a New Christian is not as pure as an Old Christian, and the Spanish monarchy dreams of a pure Spain. A family that should be proud of their heritage, of their family legacy of scribing beautiful manuscripts, are reduced to nearly nothing. The only one in worse condition is Amir, the Muslim boy forced into slavery. And yet, despite how lowly Amir is, or should be, Ramon cannot help but feel jealousy. "He knows who he is."Maybe I just loved the book because I expected that I wouldn't; maybe because it's different, both in content and structure. Regardless of why, I was caught off-guard, pleasantly. I will need to buy myself a second copy and put it in the classroom. It's a light read, it's an easy read, and yet it will sicken you when you remember that it is not just a story. So many chapters of human history are written in hatred and blood. This is but a brief glance at one such chapter.

  • Yune
    2019-03-29 21:59

    I picked this up because it's in a setting I became familiar with through Guy Gavriel Kay's _Lions of Al-Rassan_: the Spanish Inquisition, just after the enlightened period of fifteenth-century Spain, when Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived together in peace.The prologue explains the history in detail, which annoyed me at first. Why not simply incorporate all this into the story? Then I started reading the introductory (or so I thought) poem, and then I realized that the entire book was written in verse. There weren't spare words to toss around to explain how Jews had been forced to convert to Christianity, and still made to suffer.It begins in the perspective of Ramon, the son of a scribe who is such a convert. He's a teenage boy, with the usual limitations. All signs pointed toward his doing something stupid, which I find wearisome in books. Things turned out differently than I'd expected, and then the book shifted to the view of a Muslim slave who'd been given to Ramon's family. The writing style changed accordingly, and I grew more rapt."I've lost the talent for friendship, I think. / And maybe the taste."The pacing is slow at first, then forced at the end; I would have found the denouement more satisfying had it been brought about with less acceleration. But it's a worthwhile and satisfying tale, and potentially eye-opening for anyone unfamiliar with the travails of the time. And I appreciated the different medium the author chose.

  • Melanie Au
    2019-04-12 00:43

    It is 1485, and Ramon and his family, living in Cordoba, Spain, live in constant fear of arrest. The Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition is intently searching for those who are not strictly following the catholic faith. Refusing to eat pork, smiling at a virgin Mary statue, or changing into clean clothes at the end of the week could bring accusations of heresey, arrest, torture or death. Ramon's family were once Jewish, but now carefully follow all rules enforced by the Catholic church. Ramon and his father have always earned their living as scribes, but when a new law prevents supplies from selling them parchment, they wonder how they will continue to make money. To complicate things further, Ramon's family takes in a Muslim slave (the Inquisitors are also suspicious of Muslims) and Ramon starts a secret romance with the daughter of a wealthy man who is a spy for the Inquisition. Ramon realizes things are quickly sliding out of control...I think the author does a good job of depicting the horror and complexity of the Spanish Inquisition. I didn't know much about this period in history prior to reading the book and found the book to be pretty gripping. It's written in verse and the story moves between the perspective of Ramon and the perspective of the Muslim slave. Definitely one to recommend for teens who are looking for a historical novel.

  • Wally
    2019-04-03 21:46

    This novel in verse follows two teen boys in 15th Century Spain. They are both scribes, apprentices to one’s father. The father and son are conversos, Jews who have converted to Christianity to avoid the Inquisition. The second teen, an Arabic Muslim, is brought home by the father, who wishes to learn Arabic writing from him. The times are bad for non-Christians, and the boys fight and fall out, and then travel around Spain, one working for the Inquisition as a scribe, the other as a slave, eventually reuniting.I’m not a big fan of verse novels, but this one worked pretty well. The characters are well drawn, and the plot is clear enough. What’s best about this book is the setting of late Medieval Spain, and the community’s fears of being found not Christian enough. Recommended for high school, and anyone wishing to read about life during the Inquisition.

  • Abby Johnson
    2019-04-17 03:45

    Ramon is the son of a scribe in fifteenth century Spain. His family are conversos - Jews that converted to Christianity generations ago but are still suspect under Queen Isabella's Inquisition. Amir is a Muslim slave, given to Ramon's father as a gift. As the story unfolds, Amir's and Ramon's stories will intertwine in ways they would never have predicted. Rich with historical detail, this novel in verse shows the Spanish Inquisition through the eyes of two very different boys. A prologue and epilogue contain background information on the Inquisition. Recommended for fans of historical fiction. Read more on my blog:

  • Mona
    2019-04-10 04:32

    The story takes place in Spain during the dark age of the inquisition. The protagonists are two teenage boys who where born into a life of hardship and cruelty.This book sort of opened my eyes and awoke my interest for the hidden history behind the "tourist attractions".It was a good decision to take this book along with me during my trip to Andalusia and somehow it became more to me than just a vacation-reading.While walking through the streets of Córdoba and Malaga you get to see some of the ancient remains occuring in the story and the characters seem to become alive for a few moments.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-15 03:44

    Historical fiction set in the Spanish Inquisition, a rare topic (although the same as Alice Hoffman's Incantation, which I think was also 2008?)I agree with the other review that said having to give the history of the Inquisition before the book starts either says the novel isn't good enought to tell us or the subject is too hard for its potential audience to grasp. Ultimately I thought it was an interesting exercise, but not as accessible as another historical novel in verse about a little known time, Margarita Engle's The Surrender Tree.

  • Liza Gilbert
    2019-04-03 05:59

    Who on earth thought this cover was enticing? And for a young adult book? Shame on you. Nothing says "blah" quite like a book cover done in shades of baby poo. Add a creepy bird and too-small text, and BAM! You've got a truly ugly cover.

  • Morgan
    2019-04-24 23:56

    Great subject matter, but I feel as though the verse format robbed the story of any real emotion. It felt stilted an unnecessary. Unfortunate, because it's a great story, and I probably would've given it more stars.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-10 01:55

    Historical fiction about the Spanish Inquisition during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. A YA novel written in free verse, so it's a quick read! Shows that religious intolerance has been around for a long time...not limited to one creed or era.

  • Laura
    2019-04-06 02:39

    I absolutely adore this book, and in my opinion the prose renders the story even more beautiful. The story has a nice flow and wonderful characters.

  • Holly
    2019-04-02 05:59

    Intense and heart-breaking. These characters will stay with me for awhile.

  • Pam
    2019-04-01 21:51

    Interesting and fairly quick, smooth read for verse. I liked how it depicted the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition through two young persons' points of view.

  • Amy Mathers
    2019-04-20 21:39

  • Angela
    2019-04-18 23:37

    Well written, but I feel like part of the story got lost when the narrators shifted from Ramon to Amir and then back again.

  • Ky
    2019-04-04 03:54

    This book was AMAZING, i loved it. i like the way that it is written in poem! it has some great quotes

  • Sarah
    2019-04-09 23:39

    This was a really unique way of telling a story - I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

  • Randy
    2019-04-16 23:55

    I feel angry. The Inquisition of Spain in the 15th century is a terrible period in the history of the Europe. Certainly for the church. How can such a thing be put into being when it so clearly goes against the teachings of Jesus? A yet it did.This book tells two stories.