Q: A review

I already posted this review on Goodreads.  If y’all’re interested in reading the synopsis, just click the linked title below.  And if you’ve already read Q, I’d love to hear what you think in my Comments section.  You know, way down yonder at the bottom.


Q by Luther Blissett, translated by Shaun Whiteside.  Rated 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, and shelved it as Christianity, European, historical fiction, novel, and Reformation on Goodreads.

The Middle Ages and the Early Modern period are two of my favorite reading subjects, and I love novels about both, so there was little chance I wasn’t going to like Q.

I’ve read a slew of reviews that denigrate Q as a literary stunt and an extended inside joke coauthored by 4 pseudonymous leftist Italians who are trying to rewrite European history. While I have no serious reason to doubt those claims, I also have no ability to assess their validity.

Given my relative ignorance of the local cultural and historical nuances of the various themes in play, I was able to enjoy the novel for what on the surface it so clearly is: the fast-paced adventure tale of a many-named narrator who starts as a young, wide-eyed student and idealist religious reformer and progresses through stages over the next 40+ years to reluctant soldier, subversive & militant religious reformer, brawler, brothel owner, spy, and conspirator in massive economic and literary crimes. Oh, and most importantly, arch-nemesis, occasional unwitting ally, and lifelong counterpart to the eponymous Q, epistolary spy to the eventual Pope Paul IV.

This novel, as densely layered as it is thick, for the most part moves at a breakneck pace and has just about everything: action, adventure, espionage, urban and battlefield combat, melee, economic intrigue, philosophical and theological debate, and everywhere the mud, blood, stink, and struggle of oppressed European commoners from Wittenberg in East Germany west to Antwerp, Belgium then south and east again to Venice, Italy.

Although Q weighs in at 750+ pages, and it took me 10 days to read, every time I cracked it open, I was reluctant to snap it closed. If you liked Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose or Baudolino, you’ll probably like Q. I sure did.


5 thoughts on “Q: A review

    1. In my opinion, Goodreads’ rating system is better than Amazon’s because 3 stars means “liked it”, and I did like it. I try not to give a book too many stars because I don’t wan’t my average rating to cause people to think I just hand out stars like candy or am too subjective as a rater. I count on the actual text of my reviews to let reveal how I truly feel about a book. Also, Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star ratings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, that’s interesting about rating objectively. I have to disagree, but each to their own, after all, I’m sure other readers will understand that liking a book is subjective after all and it is your experience, not another’s, that’s in question. But I do agree that the review itself will speak for itself and that’s where you can get to the nitty gritty of pacing, research, character development and plot. A ten star rating system would be better, but I do like GR rating system as it does explain what each star rating means.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s