The Messiah

Marek Halter, Author, Lauren Yoder, Translator . Toby $24.95 (487p) ISBN 978-1-59264-216-8

In 1524, David Reubeni—a real-life prince and military envoy of a lost Jewish kingdom—traveled to Venice aiming to establish a Judeo-Christian alliance that would seize Jerusalem from Ottoman control. In Halter's remarkable imagining of David's travels, throngs of followers flock to David as he makes his way through the center of Christendom, mesmerized by the strange man's vast knowledge and regal charm. The prince's tactical and strategic plans to create a Jewish homeland soon win the monetary and diplomatic support of Pope Clement VII and King João III of Portugal. In time, David is given 12,000 men to fight the Turks, an unprecedented feat at a time when European Jews were persecuted and forced to live in ghettos. But David's lofty goals also attract ruthless enemies and eager fanatics who mistake David for a messiah, all of whom jeopardize his mission. The harrowing adventure is satisfying in its ample twists and turns, but Halter's writing of David Reubeni into the historical fabric of premodern Europe—imagining David taking refreshment with Machiavelli, becoming the subject of a sculpture by Michelangelo and suggesting the creation of the College des Lecteurs Royaux to King Francis I—is the book's major pleasure. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/18/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next