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Q [Hardcover]

Luther Blissett
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 5 2004
1517 Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, and a dance of death begins between a radical Anabaptist with many names and a loyal papal spy, known mysteriously as "Q." In this brilliantly conceived literary thriller set in the chaos of the Reformation-an age devastated by wars of religion-a young theology student adopts the cause of heretics and the disinherited and finds himself pursued by a relentless papal informer and heretic-hunter. What begins as a personal struggle to reveal each others' identities becomes a mission that can only end in death.

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From Amazon

Something of a publishing sensation elsewhere in Europe, Q is a convoluted historical thriller by a consortium of young pseudonymous authors, who, it has to be said, are a little too in love with their own cleverness. Q is the working name of a papal spy trying to keep a lid on the Reformation, particularly on the Anabaptist radicalism which is its form most dangerous to the social order, and for decades he watches, and occasionally gets in close and betrays. The man sometimes known as Gert is his opposite--all the more so because he hardly knows of Q's existence--the idealist who is caught up in the same events: Luther's sermons, the rise and fall of Thomas Muntzer, the disastrous People's Republic of Munster.

Parallels are being struck all over the place with radicalism in the 20th century--part of what makes Gert a memorable voice is a combination of zeal, pragmatism and survival instinct that keeps him one step ahead of the Inquisitors for 30 years and enables him to, for example, do serious damage to the Holy Roman Emperor's favourite bankers. In the end, Gert and Q are left with more in common than the past they share--the rules are changing and the board is being cleared, and there is time for one last crucial intervention... This is ingeniously plotted, and full of vividly realised scenes of 16th century life; if it has a fault, it is that we live through every day of three tumultuous decades, every sermon and theological treatise, in exhausting detail. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Rich religious history is turned into bloated, tedious fiction in this Reformation-age epic produced by four anonymous writers lurking behind a pseudonym. In 1517, Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral. In 1525, a one-time theological student, a radical Anabaptist who goes under a number of names over the course of the narrative, but who is initially called Gustav Metzger, pulls off the first of a number of hairbreadth escapes from heretic hunters keen to spill the blood of any would-be supporter of Luther. For the next 30 years, even as Protestantism slowly makes inroads across Europe, Metzger is tracked by a papal spy who, traveling incognito under the eponymous moniker Q, keeps his boss apprised while he and his compatriots attempt to crush the movement on behalf of the Vatican before the schism widens. Needless to say, they fail. Translator Whiteside has done the best he could with the material: stripped-down chapters breathlessly composed of short, snappy paragraphs ("The girl smiles. She's extremely beautiful") alternate with epistolary passages given a faux-historical gloss. Speech anachronisms abound throughout, especially when events are related by Metzger and company (" 'What the fuck did you say? What? So you're not dead, but you scare me anyway, pal, you scare me'"), and most of the characters sound so alike that not only do they remain lifeless on the page, they are often indistinguishable from one another. A good amount of historical research is lumped throughout, but the period stylings are wooden and the story never gains enough momentum to carry readers along.
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best book I've read this year! Dec 11 2001
By Claudio
This book was written by a team of Italian writers who chose the pseudonim of "Luther Blisset", a soccer player who briefly played for AC Milan in Italy during the 80s. Having said this, the book has nothing to do with soccer or Italy, it's the story, set in Europe in the 16th-17th century of an erethic fanatic, who embraces several different heresies, and his life-long fight with an inquisitor named Q who looks very similar to nowadays secret agents. The story can be read on two different levels, on the surface it's just a very intriguing spy-story, set throughout Europe in the XVII century, during the Lutheran reform. But below the surface, there is the detailed description of the reasons that helped Martin Luther to succeed, its quick acceptance by the German ruling classes who saw this as a way to get free from Rome and the Pope, and how this set in motion a series of heretic groups very similar to today's terrorists. The purpose of these heretics was mor often a social one, they instigated revolts in the german and Dutch cities, who ended up with the massacre of the rich and the powerful, a sort of rehearsal of the French Revolution! There is not, in any way, a political stance, although the positive attitude towards yesterday's erethics (and therefore this century's political terrorists to which they can be easily compared!) shows the political attitude of the writers. All in all a very good book, it will help you to understand the historical and political situation that created the Lutheran Reform and it will make you think a lot, but in the meantime it will entertain you with a very well written spy-story. Read it, you won't regret it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars read it Oct. 1 2009
By G. Mann
fun sad overwhelming and still you learn about the world. aside from one overdone chapter in the middle, they seem unable to go wrong (i think it is a collective of 5 authors). i feel fortunate to have come across them. the unnamed and multi-named protagonist is one of the most compelling characters i have ever encountered. i wish he were here now. we could use him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Mindblowing!! July 14 2004
a multilayered historical novel for the thinking person about the early days of reformation, especially it's lesser known facts and characters. and a brilliantly drawn allegory to the present mess the worlds finds itself nowadays. it masterfully shows how a very similar game was played 500 years ago as it is today.
after reading "Q" one should read: "house of bush, house of saud", just to see that things unfortunately have not chnaged that much appearantly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising... July 10 2004
For a multi-author story this is a surprisingly coherent and fascinating book. Great historical fiction, somehow reminded me of Eco.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unsual Story Set in an Unsual Time. June 30 2004
A historical thriller based on the aftermath of Martin Luther's nailing his ninety-five theses to the door of Whittenburg Cathedral. This was a time where Christian religion and political power were fighting to see who would rule the world. It was a time when the Roman Catholic church ruled most of what is now Europe, allowing the kings to hold power only at their discression. It was a time when scientific discovery had best not conflict with the rulings of the church - remember Galileo.
Set in this time, this 750 page novel tells the story of our hero, an Anabaptist who travels under many names, and his enemy, Q, a paper informer and heretic hunter. Part thriller, part adventure story, this European best seller was written by four young writers using the name Luther Blisset
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