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Friday, February 22, 2008


Slatton, Traci L. Immortal. Uh oh. The buzz around this one is good. I did not feel the same way. At all. The fact that Luca Bastardo is immortal (or pretty close to it) has little impact except that he was able to live through an interesting period of history involving his beloved Florence.

First, I frequently have a problem with first person narration. It must be extremely difficult to do. First person narrators are (for me) the most unreliable of unreliable narrators. I'm always second-guessing them. Is he saying that to convince the reader or to convince himself? Such ego in first person.

Second, the book moves very quickly into violence and degradation. When it is over, however, no matter how often Luca refers to his terrible experiences, I have the feeling that he is actually untouched by them. Impossible, but still...

Third, nothing much really happens, although the artistic and political aspects of Florence are fascinating.

Fourth, what's up with all of that spiritual mumbo jumbo? I got the Wandering Jew right away, but the Cathars, the alchemy, the repetition, the repetition, the repetition...

I wanted to like this one, and didn't, but I evidently stand alone in my opinion.

Fiction. Fantasy/historical? 2008. 513 pages.


  1. Too bad. I've heard the buzz. It seemed like it had such potential.

  2. I'm not familiar with this book, but still sorry to hear it was disappointing and didn't live up to the hype for you.

    First person narrative is hard to write, but I don't mind it so much. I thought your observation about not knowing if the narrator is trying to convince you or himself was interesting. I think that it really depends on the book, which the author is intending, but I've seen it both ways. I had never given it much thought until you mentioned it.

  3. Stefanie - I had high hopes for it, but it didn't do it for me. Which means...very little. :)

    L.F. -- Again, it is a personal thing. I've read first person that I've loved, but in general, I think it is harder to pull off. Even when we tell stories of little events in our lives...we edit, so when I read first person, I'm always wondering about those self-edits.

  4. You wrote "nothing much really happens." I am just curious , did we read the same book. I couldn't put IMMORTAL down. It's rare that a book backed with so much historical information can be so exciting.

  5. Sabin -- I admit that I seem to be in the minority in my opinion. It is always interesting to see the differences in what people consider "good" books. I've loved many books that others didn't care for and have often failed to enjoy books that others love.

    But about the history...mostly it is a list of recognizable names. When you look at it, there isn't much real information about the de Medici or the artists. Even Leonardo, who has a larger role, seemed to me to be almost like name-dropping, with a brief sketch of his future accomplishments.

    The Cathars were a fascinating sect, but again the background was a brief selection of facts. They did believe in a dual god - a good creator god and an evil counterpart. They did believe in reincarnation. They were massacred at Languedoc and at Beziers (Abbot Arnaud Amaury, the pope's military leader said,"Kill them. God will know his own." Hard to tell the Catholics and the Jews from the Cathars -- let God sort it out.) That war between the Cathars and the Catholic church lasted for two generations.

    Cathars did not believe in precreation and considered same sex relations less of a sin than intercourse between husband and wife. They did believe in equality between men and women. They also believed in transmigration as the book mentioned.

    A fascinating sect with some good points as well as some strange ones. But what was the real connection in the story? I don't know, it just seemed like one more device.

    I did read the entire book (looking for a little more about the purpose of the Wandering Jew, the alchemy, the extended life-spans); in the end, it just never came together for me.

    Long story, short - Most people seem to really like the book. Mea Culpa. :(

  6. You bring up a very good point regarding the violence. I didn't care for that very much and was surprised at how easily Luca seemed to overcome it.
    I am enjoying the book for the most part but I'll keep you posted :)

  7. Iliana - I hope you enjoy it more than I did! We usually, but not always, agree about books. I found this book shallow, but have to wonder if the fault isn't mine. Ahhh, well, and so it goes!

  8. Jenclair, I'm enjoying this one for the most part and have about 50 pages to go, I think. I've been on the other side of the equation myself several a tiny minority not liking a book that everyone else seems to like...and I think that it is just a matter of personal taste. It often only takes one little aspect of a book to turn me off to it completely, regardless of its good points. It just happens that way sometimes.