BOOKS

Fire and Song

Anna Lanyon

RRP: £12.99

1 October 2012

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781741147087

It is 1596 and in Mexico the Inquisition is at its most efficient. A young man trembles in his cell as he prays for salvation, torn between the Christianity he was schooled in and his ancestral faith. What heresies will the Holy Office uncover? Can he protect his mother and sisters?

He is Luis de Carvajal. His forbears had fled the Inquisition in Spain to Portugal and then from there to the New World. But the lives they try to rebuild as conversos in Mexico are just as perilous, for the Inquisition is determined to root out heretics throughout its realms. Luis’s quest for true faith unfolds a tense and moving narrative, as he and his family’s spirit and ingenuity are tested again and again.

Anna Lanyon’s Malinche’s Conquest was awarded and widely translated, and was followed by The New World of Martin Cortes. Fire and Song also shows her as the historian whose chronicles from contemporary testimonies are so vivid that readers feel witness to the dramatic events and intimate moments of individual lives, woven deftly into the fabric of their times to illuminate the bigger historical picture. Fire and Song presents a world without the human rights and tolerance we take for granted today; yet the insights remain all too pertinent – into the power of faith, the tangled knot of religious and political interests, and human yearning for identity, belonging and spirituality.