#109 ~ Immortal

October 14, 2008 at 10:29 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Historical Fiction | 7 Comments
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Immortal by Traci L. Slatton

Immortal is a novel that sweeps through 150 years of Florentine history from Giotto to Leonardo da Vinci through the eyes of Luca Bastardo, whose first memories are of living in the street seemingly as an orphan.  What makes Luca different is that he does not perceptively age.  His long life did not start out pleasantly.  While living on the streets, he made a couple of friends.  His best friend ultimately sold him to a brothel owner who specialized in pedaling the flesh of young children.  The only way he survived over twenty years of sexual abuse was by traveling to the gorgeous churches around Florence and through his friendship with Gioto.  When Luca won his freedom from prostitution created a generations long family long vendetta against him.  The discovery of alchemy, his talent for medicine and the search for his true love are what give him purpose as he keeps one step ahead of the those who want to destroy him.

This is not an easy novel to read.  The scenes at the brothel and with Luca dealing with the plague were grueling.  For me, the hardest parts weren’t the most emotionally difficult, but were those dealing heavily with alchemy and with Leonardo da Vinci. Alchemy most definitely had its place in this novel.  Without it, Luca would never have foreseen and chose love over immortality.  Luca’s dream of creating gold, however, felt hollow to me.  I liked the way that played out, but that didn’t change my opinion that his interest in it was half-hearted.  I also found Leonardo a difficult character to enjoy.  He was much more than a precociuos child.  I found his questions much too pointed and advanced for his age, even if he was a genious.  Because of this, his character felt like a tool needed to move Luca along.

I finished this book over two weeks ago, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  It was a book that felt as long as its 528 pages.  The ending was amazing.  It was a tremendous payoff.  This wouldn’t have been dampened at all had the novel been pared down.  At the same time, I was left wanting more information about the time Luca spent exiled from Florence.  Despite my own ambivilence, this novel would be interesting to those who enjoy reading about Florence, art, and the Medici family.  Luca’s view of the city as it changed so drastically over his lifetime and certainly provides a unique view of the city.

The best part about reading this novel was discussing it with those of you who joined The Literate Housewive’s Book Club!  I enjoyed reading your posts and your reviews.  If you haven’t been back in a while, please post your review there so I can compile all of the reviews for the newsletter.  I’ve also posted a call for suggestions for the next book.  I’m really looking forward to doing this again.


To buy this book, click here.


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  1. Off topic, but my book arrived today. Thank you!

    On topic…I’d love to read this one…someday. I think the 100+ books in my TBR pile would stage a revolt if I bought this one.
    You’re welcome about the book. Thanks so much for playing along. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. Most of the reviews I’ve read have been negative. I’m working on mine today. I think that Immortal might be the straw that would break your TBR camel’s back. 😉

  2. Excellent review, Jennifer. What you said is exactly how I felt about this book. I know a lot of people didn’t like the ending, but I did. I think I even shed a tear or two. It was just powerful to me.

    I really enjoyed discussing this w/ the group too. I am so glad you started the discussion up! I’ll try to get over there to post my review today.

    BTW, did reading about the Medecis make you as anxious for CW Gortner’s next book as it did me?
    Thanks, Shana! Actually, this book and The Other Queen has me all excited about Gortner’s next novel. Apparently, Catherine was Mary, Queen of Scots’ mother-in-law! Boy, if she had liked Mary, I wonder how that whole thing might have turned out differently.

  3. Thanks for the great review. I think I’ll skip this one.
    If you aren’t interested in the basic story lines, it’s probably for the best. This was an ambitious novel, no doubt about it. I will be watching her career.

  4. I, too, read this book for THW’s book group. I waffeled back and forth about whether I really enjoyed this book or not. I guess the telling part, in the end, is it must not have moved me too much because I didn’t write a review. I felt it keep going & going, just like Luca, and I wanted it to end. It’s interesting that flesh trade and brothel story line didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did others. I really got fed up with The Wanderer and the endless riddles and questions being ‘answered’ by questions.

    I’m looking forward to reading our next book whatever it may be.

  5. I agree that while it felt too long and could have been cut down, I did want to know more about what Luca did when he was out of Florence.

  6. Great review Jennifer. You know I agree with you, I’m still not really sure how I felt about this book. I liked it, I didn’t. I know one thing-I did like Luca. Like you and Shana, I liked the ending also-I think I might of shed a tear or two also Shana. In the end, I’m not sorry I read it and I do look forward to our next selection.

  7. Just stopping by to say hi. That’s a great review. I’ve got to add that book to the list.

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