Immortal by Traci L. Slatton
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In the majestic heart of Florence, a beautiful golden-haired boy is abandoned and subjected to cruelty beyond words. But Luca Bastardo is anything but an ordinary boy. Across two centuries of passion and intrigue, Luca will discover an astonishing gift—one that will lead him to embrace the ancient mysteries of alchemy and healing and to become a trusted confidant to the powerful Medicis…even as he faces persecution from a sadistic cabal determined to wrest his secrets for themselves.
But as the Black Death and the Inquisition wreak havoc on his beloved city, Luca’s survival lies in the quest to solve two riddles. One is the enigma of his parents and his ageless beauty. The other is a choice between immortality and the only chance to find his one true love. As Luca journeys through the heights of the Renaissance, befriends Giotto and Leonardo Da Vinci—140 years apart—and pursues the most closely guarded secrets of religious faith and science for the answers to his own burning questions, his remarkable search will not only change him…but will change the course of history.
Reviews of IMMORTAL
Unique plot and vivid description
With a touch of the paranormal, Immortal is a historical novel of love, religion and the mysteries of life. On his own from a young age, Luca survives much worse than life on the streets before achieving his lifelong goals. Ms. Slatton does an amazing job of drawing readers into her story with remarkable detail and passionate characters. The unique plot and vivid description of Florence and the surrounding area adds beauty to what would have otherwise been a dark story. A lengthy tale, but well worth every moment spent reading it.
Kimberly Swan on Darque Reviews
Luca Bastardo is the young man through whom we experience all of this. Without parents, satisfaction in religion and a true love that he knows he must find, searching is his way of life. Early on he knows that he is different from others, that he ages hardly at all. This does not prevent him from having all sorts of wonderful adventures, which range from the most decadent to the most noble. Along the way he meets people from every station in life, including one with a donkey, both of whom are almost as long-lived as he is. The conversations we hear about the artist's great works and how they are presented makes us want to rush to look them up so we can see the same things being discussed.
Barbara Lingens on BookLoons Reviews
Writings of the Loud Librarian
This is the debut novel of Slatton, and what a work with which to come out of the gate!
This is a richly detailed book, following the unnaturally long life of Luca Bastardo, orphan on the streets turned forced prostitute, turned art appreciator and influencer of history through art, faith and alchemy. Most of the novel takes place in Renaissance Florence, so I was immediately drawn in to the setting as well as the detail describing the flourishing city.
Throughout his life, Luca orbits and influences the lives of Giotto, Petrarca, and even Leonardo da Vinci, the portion of the book I enjoyed the most. He is also hotly pursued by his former master, and then his children in a battle of good and evil. Throw in the Black Death, love and loss, luck, alchemy, and art and you have a fully realized, engaging novel with an intriguing title character.
Recommended for fans of historical fiction or the Renaissance!
Writings of the Loud Librarian
It's a been quite a while since I read a novel that I absolutely adored. Immortal sucked me in at page one and even after over 500 pages of reading I could have read more. In Immortal, Traci L. Slatton follows the 180 year life story of Luca Bastardi, a Florentian citizen and son of Seth who writes his autobiography from his Inquisition cell as he awaits public burning at the stake.
Impeccable history, interesting narrative, and enough fantasy to make it fun, Immortal shows us the best and worst of humanity over an intense couple of centuries. She brings in art history, jewish folktale, and philosophy (including The Wandering Jew), a carefully drawn history of the Catholic church and the Inquisition, the Black Death, and an overarching theme that in the end love really does conquer all.
Lynda Lippin on BlogCritics
No Market Collective
Slatton does a wonderful job of making the characters in her book multidimentional, and incredibly real. I found myself becoming happy when good things happened to the people in her story, and incredibly distressed as I read about things going badly....
By the end, Luca does get what he has been longing for, but, only after much suffering, and for a short time. We know from the first pages of the book that Luca is doomed…Despite that foreshadowing, it was still unsettling to see exactly how it all ended.
If you can’t get enough of stories involving Italy, the artwork that adorns it, and the artists who created it, you will love this book….Overall, this is a wonderful read. You have to take the good with the bad in this story, which is something that Luca Bastardo learns is true about life, and God Himself.
Jen at NoMarket Collective
The story is very engaging. It moves along, skipping many years when necessary, and with such a long lived character, we lost out on the many boring parts of Luca’s life. In general, I liked him… There is some magic involved; Luca practices alchemy and obviously his lifespan is not that of any normal human being. So we have to suspend our disbelief to enjoy the book, but as a reader of fantasy, I didn’t mind. I try to take historical fiction with a grain of salt and a bit of fantasy tossed in does help that. To my knowledge, however, the actual history is pretty accurate.
In short, I enjoyed this book and I’d recommend it to other readers of historical fiction.
Devourer of Books
It was still an amazingly rich and, as far as I could tell, largely historically accurate look at life in Florence between the 13th and 15th centuries. I was completely caught up in Slatton’s story and willing to suspend disbelief for the more fantasy/magic aspects of the plot due to the realism of her Florence.
This was a great read and something I definitely recommend.
Devourer of Books
Reviewing the Evidence
Luca longs for true love and the story of his seeking and finding true love is the real story of his life. How he came to be an immortal is finally revealed in the later pages of the book. This is more of a fantasy than a mystery, but nevertheless an interesting and compelling story.
Reviewing the Evidence
Worlds of Wonder Blog
Strong Historical Fiction
IMMORTAL is a complex tale as the lead protagonist makes what he considers universal truths based on his experiences in his two centuries of life especially his interactions with artists, scientists, church leaders and politicians; yet the one question he is dying to know eludes him: the origin of his life. Luca is the center to this strong historical fiction that sweeps the audience through the late medieval Plague into the Renaissance.
Worlds of Wonder Blog
Rants Raves Reviews
Will compel you to pick it up
So, it is with great pleasure that I can say that Immortal, by Traci L. Slatton, is the kind of book that will compel you to pick it up and read every spare second you get….Immortal raises important, life-directing questions as Luca travels not only a physical journey but psychological quest to discover who he really is. These are important questions we should always have in our own minds, and I thank Slatton for reminding us to always be vigilant in the search for our own reasons for being.
Rants, Raves, Reviews
An historical fiction novel -with paranormal undertones… Notable names are correctly placed into context but the main character's existence demands the acceptance of an alternative realty. So if you are looking for something truly different, then this is one for you to try. Interesting points are made about religion, embracing the world as it is -and as you hope it could be, and loving our fellow man -no matter what our differences might be.
Romance Reader at Heart
Rare gift of storytelling
IMMORTAL is a book rich in atmosphere, historical detail, characters, but most of all it is rich in plot and dialogue. An exemplary work of historical fiction—a debut book at that!— Traci L. Slatton has that rare gift of storytelling that draws you in and then holds you tight. This is one book you don't want to miss.
Nancy Davis on Romance Reader at Heart
Curled up with a Good Book
The early enmity of a street urchin and the evil man who forces him into a children’s brothel are the setting for a 14th-century tale of a flourishing Tuscany filled with creative genius, religious zeal and superstition….By the time Luca meets his fate and surrenders to the torture of the Inquisitors, he has finally resolved the lifelong dance with what he calls the two faces of God, the punishing one and the Laughing God.
Unresisting, Luca embraces the truth of his journey, the loss of his loved ones and the ecstasy of death, his journey flush with beauty and creativity, evil and depravity excoriated by the joy of once more uniting with his loved ones after a fiery death.
Curled up with a Good Book
The Novel World
Final Grade: A
Slatton is very accurate with the historical detail of Italy in the 1300s and 1400s. Her writing is very fluid and each chapter melds into each other before you realize you’ve read nearly half the book in a few short hours. You develop a sympathy with not only Luca, but with all of Italy through Slatton’s discussion of philosophy and religion and the simple act of finding love and happiness, two of Luca’s biggest struggles to achieve.
FINAL GRADE: A
The Novel World
Historical Novel Society
The Very Highest Recommendation
Traci L. Slatton’s highly inventive and lush debut novel follows Luca Bastardo across the 14th and 15th centuries in his search for his parents and for his own salvation….
Space limits all the good things that might be said about this remarkable book; suffice it to say Luca escapes his captor—only to face Silvano’s progeny across the ages. Along the way, in vibrant conversations with luminaries of the Italian Renaissance (Giotto, Petrarca, Cosimo de’ Medici), Luca questions the wisdom of honoring a God whom he can only see as cruel. In his experience, beauty and art are the brothers of light and lead to salvation.
Driving Luca Bastardo through this compelling story is his root longing for a wife and a family of his own. Though Immortal at times seems relentlessly cruel, it is beautifully conceived and written and asks such questions as: What is history, the great swatches of events or the sum of individual lives? Which is more important?
The very highest recommendation.
Historical Novel Society
Books Are Pretty
One man’s compelling life
Slatton takes this period of history that is seen now mostly in dusty history books, raises it to its feet, and fleshes it out to create one man’s compelling life, peppering ancient social mores and belief systems with just a bit of modern language (one character refers to another as a “good drinking buddy,”) and adding just enough magic to make the whole thing seem real.
I really love a good book of historical fiction, and Immortal was a very pleasurable book to read, one that I looked forward to picking up.
Books Are Pretty
Luca is searching for his destiny. He would follow the priests as they preached and he mimicked them. Thus did he learn about closely guarded secrets of religious faith and the science of nature. He searches for his parents, who were they and why did they leave him? What causes this seemingly ageless beauty?
Would Luca become stronger for his journey? Will he find happiness or even love along the way?
This is Ms. Slatton’s debut novel, as such it is remarkable. IMMORTAL does not exactly fit the criteria of Romance Junkies, being that it is not a romance in definition. Rather it is a love of life and the pursuit of happiness and acceptance of one self. This is very powerful and thought provoking. It ignites one’s sense of duty to those around us. It also teaches us about the strength of one’s own convictions.
Glued to the pages
By far Immortal is one book that is assured to go down in history. This is the type of reading pleasure that only comes once in a lifetime. The entire plot wraps around the reader’s heart and keeps him / her glued to the pages until the very end. I was so impressed with the talent Traci L. Slatton displayed in this one title. It is hard to find words to describe the feelings I experienced all throughout this generous portion of five hundred pages of pure emotional drama. History lovers will love the opportunity to catch of glimpse of some of the greats of the Renaissance period - Giotto and Leonardo da Vinci. How these characters play a part in this story is truly a work of art. Very highly recommended.
Peeking Between the Pages
Rich in language and detail
Immortal is a historical fiction novel that is rich in language and detail. It takes place in Florence during the Italian Renaissance. Throughout the novel we encounter actual historical people like Leonardo da Vinci, the Medicis and so on. In addition we are taken through historical events such as The Inquisition and The Black Death.
This isn’t an easy book to read-it is quite dark really...
I liked Luca’s character, I was drawn to him from the beginning and through all of his hardships in life. I enjoyed meeting all the people he met, famous or not. Hearing about the art and the history of Florence was enjoyable and I loved the supernatural elements. The sections on alchemy dragged on and I wasn’t too keen on those. I think the book wrapped up in the end in a way that left us satisfied.
Travelling this journey with Luca was an interesting adventure.
Peeking Between the Pages
Nights and Weekends
One of the best
Immortal is such a wonderful novel that it’s hard to find the right words to describe how wonderful it truly is. You not only read about Luca’s struggles, you feel them. You’ll weep as Luca tries to understand what he perceives as the cruelty of an evil God; you’ll become angered by religious figures and their stupid superstitions; you’ll be fascinated by Florence and its history; and you’ll learn the mysteries of faith, art, and alchemy. Ms. Slatton picked a fascinating time period to write about, and it’s made me want to know more about fourteenth-century Italy.
Do not pass Immortal up. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read since I first discovered books. The story is written with such a depth and beauty that I rarely encounter in the written word. Read it, and you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of your own faith—no matter how or who you worship—and the life you’ve lived.
Margaret Marr on Nights and Weekends
For every page dedicated to happiness, intellectual curiosity, and beauty, there’s two more devoted to suffering and brutality*. Still, Immortal is impressive, particularly coming from a first-time author—Slatton’s style is elegant and briskly paced, and her ageless hero is likable and intelligent… We’ll be keeping an interested eye out for Slatton’s next book.
"What's inside you is the gate to everything. It's what you become, what you make of your life." Living through Florence, Italy's constantly fluctuating history, Luca Bastardo is one of the most amazing, passionate characters to grace the world of fiction.
Herein lies the unique, grand quality of this novel. For here we read first of Luca's close friendship with Giotto the renowned artist; then Geber the famed alchemist; and much later with the painter, sculptor and engineer, Leonardo Da Vinci as well as the powerful ruling De Medici family.
For decades beyond the ordinary human life span, Luca learns that there "are no perfect men. Just men with sublime parts." Exploring the world of art, theology, philosophy, the Philosopher's Stone and other science, Luca discovers the Laughing, scornful God is really the God of good and evil, ultimately manifesting perfection in beauty and love.
Immortal is one of the most outstanding novels this reviewer has read in years! There is so much more to be experienced beyond this review that is riveting, provocative, beautiful, passionate, and unforgettable in this well-research and well-written Florentine story.
A masterpiece, Ms. Slatton!
Viviane on Crystal Reviews
Dr. Dolhenty’s Review
Classic piece of literature
I read quite a few popular new novels during the course of a year, but I generally don't write reviews of them. Now and then, however, a novel comes along that really impresses me and, indeed, I think may well become a classic piece of literature. "Immortal" by Traci L. Slatton, a first-class historical novel, is just such a work. It satisfies many of the criteria that I think a true classic must meet such as a great theme (or themes), deals with important human values, has memorable characters, has the potential to speak across time, and is written in fine prose. Whether or not this book becomes a genuine literary classic, of course, will depend on whether it is read by the generations to come. It does, in my opinion, have that potential.
… Slatton has done her research….The major themes in this delightful book are Luca's search for who he is, where he came from, and what his destiny is. These are the major themes of any truly "classical" work of literature. But that is not all that Slatton brings to this work. Virtually all of the perennial problems with which humanity suffers and the very fundamental questions which we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives play a part in this beautiful story.
I think the reader will find this a hard book to put aside. I know I did. It is not often that a literary work of this type can be described as a page-turner. Furthermore, I don't think any serious reader will come away from the reading without being profoundly affected. And, maybe, that more than anything, makes this story a potential future classic. Highly, highly recommended.
Dr. Dolhenty’s Review
(See also http://www.themoralliberal.com/radical-academy/dr-dolhenty/)
Romance Reviews Today Blog
A Perfect 10
Ms. Slatton's debut novel is an amazing, incredibly detailed account of the life of a man who could hold the secrets to religious history. A tortured soul, Luca manages to overcome the horrors of his life and learn to love when he is able, trust whom he can, and face an uncertain future, all the time hoping that someday he will learn about his origins. Historical details are wound through this intricate story. The research is impeccable; the characters, even the evil ones, will leap off the pages of this novel, demanding the reader's attention. Great dialogue and beautifully written, IMMORTAL should be on everyone's bookshelf. It's a remarkable story.
Jani Brooks on Romance Reviews Today Blog
Loved this book
Oh my gosh -- I just loved this book! It's a relatively long book (over 500 pages), but I read it in just a few days. I couldn't put it down and I even stayed up late at night to read it (as a mother of two, I don't stay up late very often.) I was so drawn into Luca Bastardo's story from the first few pages until the last. Not only did I like the characters of Luca, but the basic premise of the story was so unique and extremely interesting….
I was so impressed that IMMORTAL is Ms. Slatton's first novel. I found so much of the historical aspects of this novel to be interesting (I can't even imagine how much research she must have conducted before writing this novel;) however, I also appreciated how well she developed the character of Luca. In addition, I thought her prose and descriptions of Florence were very beautiful. I think Ms. Slatton is going to have a wonderful future as a novelist!…
As I read this novel, I kept thinking that it would make a wonderful movie….
If you love reading historical fiction books, then you'll definitely want to check out IMMORTAL. I am so anxious to talk about it this evening with my book club.
Immortal is a fantastic book…
Luca’s life contains some truly brutal and tragic parts that might be a bit much for certain readers. For instance, I know my mom, an artist herself and a lover of the great Italian Masters, would really enjoy reading about the different people Luca meets, but she wouldn’t be too keen on reading about his brutal time in the brothel. Luca also has an internal dialogue about what he perceives are two Gods, one who is kind and one who is cruel. He often credits the "laughing God" as the one responsible for some of the atrocities he faces, but the book is not offensive by any means. It is simply Luca’s opinion at different times in his life, just like he comes to appreciate the kind God during the good times.
That being said, I thought Immortal was terrific and by the end of the book, I was literally left in tears, both of joy and sadness. I am a big fan of Traci L. Slatton, having first been introduced to her writing in her fantastic After series, but I wanted to get a sense of her earlier works. I think Immortal is a brilliant book that weaves bits of history with a compelling story about a truly unique character.
Ashley aka Psibabe on Game Vortex
Works very nicely
Luca Bastardo, our long lived hero, certainly has his ups and downs, and the fun of this richly researched book is in the details — the smell of the marketplace, the color of a woman’s silk dress, and the art that surrounds Luca and sustains him through some very difficult times. The secret of Luca’s past isn’t revealed until the very end, and if you’re willing to accept a little fantasy, it’s a satisfactory finish. Interestingly, although the premise clearly makes this a work that’s more fantasy than straight up historic fiction, Slatton’s approach and her writing are firmly rooted in reality. It works very nicely.
Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation