Book Review: The Bones You Have Cast Down by Jean Huets (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Bones You Have Cast Down by Jean Huets

Four Stars

“A part of me grieved for myself.”

A storytelling treasure. Huets transports the reader into the mind of a young fifteenth century Italian with all the assurance and intimacy which one expects of a modern bard. The sights, smells, feel of Renaissance Italy seep from every pore of the story. The Inquisition lurks in the shadows. Speculative elements are deftly melded into the mix.

“For a more virtuous person, no doubt, friendship would have trumped rage. Not for me.”

The fifteenth century was a seedbed for religious innovation, mostly aimed as real or imagined abuses practiced by the Roman Catholic Church. The Inquisition zealously sought the heretics; usually the civil authorities meted punishment. The contemporaneous history of the Cathars, Waldensians and Hussites underscores the vigor with which Rome crushed dissenters. Thought provoking as well as entertaining.

“Bad things happen fast; good things take a long time. Yet miracles will break through.”

Simultaneously fun and thought-provoking. Nice word plays, such as “hot and damp as laundry” “pulled to and fro like a rag between curs”

“If you can’t have a friend, at least don’t make everyone your enemy.”

Modern evangelical Christians may recognize the described heresy as akin to their doctrine of redemption by faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Likewise this era produced the popular legend of a female pope. Similarly several oblique references to turning Fortune’s wheel call to mind Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, which influenced western thinking then. Tarocchi (tarot) gaming cards are mentioned; their use for divination was several centuries in the future. A Tibetan even appears.

“I do not even begin to contemplate what would become of the world if redemption were … free.”

(Full disclosure: Jean and I are members of a writers group, and she gave me this early copy.)

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