Bologna, 1311. Mondino de Liuzzi, a well-known physician is staying late at the university where he teaches. This is nothing unusual for he often stays late in order to secretly study corpses in an effort to understand as much as he can about the human body. When a surprise knock on the door disturbs him, he answers it to find one of his students holding the body of a murdered friend.
The victim: a Templar knight. But what is striking is that there is something very unnatural about the dead body: his heart has been turned to iron.
Mondino’s curiosity is piqued. How could a human heart be transformed into a solid block of iron? Is it alchemy? In order to find out, he is going to have to help a wanted man catch the murderer and in so doing, go up against a dangerous and ambitious Inquisitor…
It was clear to his scientific mind that the transformation of Angelo da Piczano’s heart was not the result of the shadowy spell of a witch, but the much more concrete art of alchemy.
A few times I’ve had trouble reading books that have been translated into English; they can lack fluidity, creating jarring sentences that inhibit the pace of the story. Inquisition was translated by Sophie Henderson, and in my opinion, she has done a fantastic job. It was so well translated that, if it hadn’t been for the brief mention of it at the start of the book, I would never have guessed.
Fourteenth century Italy was vividly brought to life as I worked my way through the story. Mondino de Liuzzi is an engaging character; he has an interesting job as a physician teaching at a university at a time when science and religion are at loggerheads. He is a complex character that finds himself in a very difficult, and very dangerous, position. And as he tries to unravel the mystery of the iron heart, he has much more to contend with. The rest of the cast are just as well thought out and believable as Mondino, and like the scientist, have their own secrets and agendas, making this a fast-paced, gripping read.
Filled with action and drama, secrets and revenge, Inquisition is a suspenseful read which held my attention from the very first page. A number of times I wondered how the characters were going to get out of the situations they found themselves in, and there were more than a handful of twists and turns to keep me guessing. I also thought the ending was clever.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I recommend it to those interested in any of the following: the history of fourteenth century Europe, the early days of modern science, the Knights Templar and the Inquisition.