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Book Review: Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt

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Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt is a novel set in 17th-century Spain. This book was the 2012 finalist in the International Book Awards for Historical Fiction.

It is based on the life of Vicente de Rocamora, a poet, fighter and Dominican priest who was thrust into the scheming court of King Philip IV. Rocamora became the confessor for the king’s younger sister, the beautiful Infanta Doña María, and was considered as a strong candidate for Inquisitor General.

I found this book to be a first-rate historical novel; I learned a lot of history, about life in Spain and the Inquisition. Mr. Platt weaves his story around the history and doesn’t change the facts to fit his story (at least I couldn’t find any glaring cases of such).

The novel certainly lets the reader feel the glory of Spain fading during the reign of Philip IV, while Count Duke Olivares acting as prime minister (in today’s terms). The author also weaves in the consequences which Spain suffered under religious fanatics, anti-Semitism and corruption of the aristocracy.

This is a solid, well written historical novel with plenty of historical background, the dialogue is believable with Spanish words and phrases peppered throughout (the author always manages to translate them or let you know what they mean based on further reading).

The narrative keeps the reader turning the pages, despite the fact that the author describes each outfit, room, weapon and characters to extreme detail. While it sometimes weighed down the story, overall I found these details to be interesting as well as part of the charm and authenticity of the book.

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format.

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