ACTS OF HOPE (Part 2 of The Inquisition Trilogy) starts where Book One of Martin Elsant’s Inquisition Trilogy, ACTS OF FAITH, left off, on a ship transporting Diego Lopes and his daughter Maria away from his outrageous escape of the auto da fe. It would difficult to top such a thrilling conclusion and Elsant wisely does not try, instead easing our pulse in the beginning of Book Two with the burgeoning romance of Maria and Dr. Will Ames, the physician who tends to Diego’s wounds, and Maria’s growing Jewish faith. Unfortunately, these first chapters are somewhat weighed down by an abundance of theological explanation and a scarcity of action, and Ames pales in comparison to the vibrant Aristedes Coelho, as evidenced by how quickly the pacing and excitement picks up when Ari reappears.
An unapologetic dreamer and a bit of a Renaissance comedian, Ari Coelho jumpstarts the heart of ACTS OF HOPE, quickly surrounding himself with a similar cast of odd and delightful characters; the hard-drinking, truth-speaking Peter; Esther Levy, who multitasks innkeeping, singing for guests, and stabbing petty thieves; the resilient Aisha, who takes “an eye for an eye” to stratospheric lengths; and the swashbuckling Ya’akov Koriel, an able partner to Ari in both mission and passion. ACTS OF HOPE is at its best when it brings all these wounded but unyielding souls together to fight for a new Holy Land and the reader experiences that same thrill of hope and purpose and longing that was so engaging in the first book in the series, ACTS OF FAITH. Elsant’s characters are in it for the long haul, as are we; absorbed in their strivings, waiting patiently for their victories, and looking forward to the culmination of their stories in Book Three.
After a somewhat slow beginning, ACTS OF HOPE, Book Two of Martin Elsant’s Inquisition Trilogy, ramps up the tale of a group of idealistic and quirky characters in the battle of their lives against the vicious and dehumanizing machine of the Portuguese Inquisition.
~Shari Simpson for IndieReader