Acts of Dreams

Part 3 of The Inquisition Trilogy

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
234 Pages
Reviewed on 02/28/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Heather Stockard for Readers' Favorite

Will and Maria Ames return to England, after their failed attempt to build a refuge for Inquisition victims. Instead of a warm welcome, they find only more trouble. Their recently fired lawyer, Nigel Chamberlain, has accused them of being secret Jews, which is true. He has been clandestinely gathering evidence in their absence and has more than enough to prove his case. If they are convicted, they will be expelled from England and lose everything. Will and the pregnant Maria cannot argue their innocence, so they decide instead to attempt to overturn the statute that forbids Jews from living in England. Their case will depend on the skill of their new lawyer, and the disposition of the judge, Christopher Hatton, one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorites whom she personally appointed to oversee the case. Hatton has his own misconceptions about the Jews, but his desire for religious peace, and his influence with the queen, may be the Ames’ only hope.

Martin Elsant’s Acts of Dreams: Part 3 of The Inquisition Trilogy is a fitting conclusion to his sweeping historical saga. The stage of characters includes a diverse array of illustrious historical and fictional personages, including Queen Elizabeth, Christopher Hatton, and Francis Drake. The action spans continents and oceans, from England to Spanish ports in far-off lands. Elsant has woven an intricate story with complex characters whose fates are interwoven and tied to a monarch whose whims will decide the future of them all. This book is a must-read for any historical fiction lovers.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

The year is 1572, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Two Jews, William and Maria Ames, are challenging the royal edict set down by Edward I, the Edict of Expulsion of Jews from England. It’s a complicated issue in an era where even being Catholic or Protestant in a setting that only tolerates one way of believing is dangerous. But to be a Jew in a Christian country under a Christian monarch? Religious cleansing, like racial cleansing, has left its horrific mark all through the centuries. But when two Jews challenge the ruler of England in the English court of law, you have a powerful mystery and legal thriller in the works, much like a twenty-first-century John Grisham novel.

Martin Ivan Elsant’s historical fiction novel, Acts of Dreams: Part 3 of The Inquisition Trilogy, is a powerful and significant look at the religious/political conflicts of Elizabethan England and, for that matter, Europe. Bringing into play well-known historical characters like Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake, among others, the author weaves a plot of political intrigue and legal matters that were challenging to comprehend and defend even in that era. The author obviously knows his history and this is presented with great detail, as well as significant descriptive passages to invite the reader right into the story. The difficulties presented by the Inquisition and the religious (and racial) prejudices of the era are clearly documented to the point that the reader will be actively cheering the Defendants and the Defense Counsel right up to the very end. A historical note is provided to give credence to the story as well as provide some other interesting details. A passionate and powerful look at a complicated historical era.

Rabia Tanveer

Acts of Dreams is the third novel in The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Ivan Elsant. The story follows William and Maria as they try to rebuild their lives. The couple lost it all, and now they have to make sure they don't become lost in the chaos. To get themselves out of the mess created by their last lawyer, they hire Richard Shaw to fight for them. They are being punished for being Jews, and they believe they have the right to live just as much as anyone else. With Shaw by their side, they start a case that soon becomes a political war. The real battle begins when Shaw has to make the case and not lose his life in the process. Is there a chance for him to fight for his clients and get them the justice they deserve? Or is this going to be a failure?

Writing historical fiction is a lot of work, and I genuinely believe authors do much research to make their stories believable. Author Martin Ivan Elsant breathes life into this very well-written story with his writing style. The narrative is smooth; it flows naturally and gives readers breathing room before the author introduces twist after twist to make the story interesting. While Will, Maria, and Shaw make a convincing story to follow, Spain and England's tension acts as a good subplot. The religious tension, the division of right and wrong, and bigotry all play a vital role in the story's progress. There is plenty of action to make the story exciting and enough drama to keep me hooked. I loved it!