Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Changeling: Order of Darkness Book one

This book was different than Philippa Gregory's other books I've read- instead of historical fiction she wrote a book for young adults based on four fictional characters.  The title Changeling caught my attention when I saw it at a local bookstore, so I had to put it on hold at the library.  It was very entertaining and drew me in; I finished it quite fast.  It was easy to read and understand and of course, intriguing.  The Order of Darkness in this book is based on the fifteenth-century Order of the Dragon, which was started to defend Christendom against the Muslin Ottoman Empire.  The main character Luca was an orphan at 14, his parents having disappeared after being captured by an Ottoman raid.  He is very bright, intelligent and handsome.  While questioning relics and other things, he is soon to be tried for heresy. Part of the superstition of this time came from dishonest churchmen producing fake relics for people that wanted to see miracles.  The payments from the faithful made the Church money.  Instead of being tried for heresy, Luca is given orders by an unknown Protector who works for the Pope, to travel Europe, questioning certain places and people about the possible end of the world.  Pope Nicholas V had ordered this secret group to travel Christendom, save Rome, and question everything and try to gain knowledge.  This Protector calls Luca a faerie child, a changeling. 

Luca is joined by a Brother Peter, a clerk ordered to travel with him and record their work.  He is also joined by Frieze, a young adult that had been a poor kitchen lad at the abbey and was eager to follow Luca on a secret mission for the Pope.  Their first order is to travel to the abbey of Lucretili and investigate possible claims of women nuns there having visions and that Satan had possibly visited the abbey and was destroying it.  While there, they meet the new Sister Abbess Isolde.  She is the other main character, having been sent there by her brother, the new Lord of Lucretili.  Isolde had been close to her father and he had loved her and said she would be mistress of the castle when he died.  She was not able to go in and see him when he passed, and only saw his will that her brother claimed was true.  In it, her father wished her to marry a Prince Roberto, or enter the nunnery.  Trying to remain a true daughter, Isolde did not wish to marry so she entered the nunnery according to her father's wishes.  Her childhood friend Ishraq followed her everywhere- she was feared because she had dark skin and heretic ways.  Christians believed then that anyone who did not accept the Bible as they did was a nonbeliever and were damned.  That is when they say things started happening at the abbey- women seeing visions, sleep walking, crying out in the middle of the night.  It was blamed on Isolde and Ishraq, for it happened the same time they had entered the abbey.  These five characters are intertwined in this interrogation, and it becomes quite intense and interesting.  They are led to yet another investigation where the book ends, leaving you hanging for the next installment. 

It is quite different than anything I had read before, especially by this author.  It was entertaining but not my cup of tea.  It was an interesting time after the fall of Constantinople- people were quite anxious and tried to understand the things going on around them.

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