Acts of Hope

Part 2 of The Inquisition Trilogy

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
351 Pages
Reviewed on 10/04/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Acts of Hope is a work of fiction in the historical, interpersonal drama, religious theme, and emotive fiction sub-genres, and was penned by author Martin Elsant. Written as Part 2 of The Inquisition Trilogy, this work is the sequel to Acts of Faith. Working as a self-contained story, the novel also furthers the exploration of the fallout and effects of the Portuguese Inquisition as protagonist Maria Lopes meets a new band of people on different sides of the religious divide when she tries to reclaim her Jewish heritage. So begins a quest not only to understand herself, but to learn who to trust, and how to understand others along the way.

Having enjoyed Acts of Faith immensely, I was pleased to return to the sixteenth-century world which author Martin Elsant has created, and discover more about the Inquisition through the events of this novel. True to form, one of the things which hit me right from the off was the immersive atmosphere of this diverse world of different religions and cultures, and the tension in this second novel was amped up to boiling point throughout as we discover the suffering and sacrifices of many people of the time. I enjoyed the inclusion of the ensemble cast very much, showcasing different personalities and beliefs through some truly excellent dialogue techniques and narrative prowess. This makes for a work that packs an even larger emotional punch than its predecessor, and I would therefore highly recommend Acts of Hope to fans of the first book and those who enjoy intense and immersive world history in general.

Christian Sia

Acts of Hope is the second book in The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant and a powerful novel about the Portuguese Inquisition. The story follows Maria Lopes, who escapes the horrors of the Inquisition and makes the journey by sea towards living the freedom of her religion. The moment she gets off the Sao Gabriel with her ailing father, Diego, she meets the affable Dr. Ames, who takes care of her father. Her journey brings her into contact with a variety of characters, each with a serious grudge against the advocates of the Inquisition. Ari, once a Catholic Seminary student back in Coimbra, feels betrayed by the Church. Ya’akov Koriel, one of the fiercest Jewish pirates that sailed the seas, has his own anger against the Inquisition. Can these characters heal from the pain caused in the name of religion?

Acts of Hope gives readers insights into what it felt like to live in the time of the Portuguese Inquisition and Martin Elsant does a wonderful job in portraying the many ways in which religion was used to oppress and inflict suffering on people. The characters are from different backgrounds, each with their unique history and experience of the pain. I loved the way that the author builds the relationships between these characters, the respect they show for each other, and the drama that follows them. The first encounter between Maria, who is desperate to find a doctor for her father, and Dr. Ames is beautifully written and I enjoyed how these characters evolved through the story. Acts of Hope is a historical novel that explores a dark history and themes of religious freedom, faith, friendship, love, and hope. It is an engaging and hugely entertaining story with strong characters.

Jose Cornelio

Acts of Hope is Part 2 of The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant, a story that follows the journey of Maria Lopes from the moment she and her father escape from the Portuguese Inquisition, aboard the three-masted Sao Gabriel, to meeting Dr. Ames, an affable man who treats her father, to an adventure that features colorful characters. Maria encounters a good number of characters that have suffered because of the Inquisition, and as she navigates a path towards reclaiming her Jewish heritage, she understands that the evil is widespread. Can an innkeeper and a pirate get revenge for the crimes of the Inquisition? Can a Muslim find justice for the unspeakable deeds of the Inquisition, and can a young Catholic seminarian end the Inquisition without destroying himself?

The story is, indeed, one that explores acts of hope in a world that has suffered from unspeakable crimes of the Inquisition. It is told in a tender and engrossing voice that pulls the reader in right from the beginning. The story features characters that won my attention. It is easy to fall for a character like Dr. Ames the moment one meets him. The desperation in Maria to find a doctor for her father at the start of the story catches the attention of the reader who is immediately drawn to her humanity. The setting in 1571 is beautifully written and I enjoyed how Martin Elsant writes details of the setting into the story. The characters are well-developed and multidimensional. The story features themes of survival, of faith and hope, of betrayal, and redemption. Acts of Hope is an engaging historical narrative with characters that I loved. There is so much history to witness and a lot of humanity to inspire readers.