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Immortal tells the fascinating story of Luca Bastardo, a mysterious child left to fend for himself on the dangerous streets of 14th century Florence. Luca is a beautiful and unusual child, one with strawberry blonde hair and dark plum-colored eyes, definitely not something common in Florence. His past is unknown to him, although he knows he is different from others. While he survives on the streets with the help of two urchins he calls friends, he finds himself sold into service at a brothel run by an evil man named Bernardo Silvano. Luca experiences and sees unspeakable horrors and cruelty while in Silvano’s employ, all the while trying to find a way to escape. Silvano knows something of Luca's past and possibly even of his parents and often teases Luca with this secret knowledge. While Luca only appears to have aged a few years, several decades pass and he is finally able to free himself of Silvano, but not before making a permanent enemy of the man’s young and equally evil son.

Once he is free of the brothel, Luca befriends a Jewish family after rescuing the father and daughter from certain death. A new chapter begins for the young boy, one filled with kindness and learning. He had previously only been exposed to the rare act of kindness in the form of a painter named Giotto, but soon makes new friends in alchemists Geber and a strange man known only as The Wanderer. As time continues to slip by him, Luca ages very slowly and along the way, is able to amass great wealth and a few powerful friends, including Leonardo da Vinci and members of the Medici family, but along with the friends come enemies and a good many of them are named Silvano. As Luca continues the search for his family, he yearns for true love and a family of his own. Through tragedy, he finds love, but can he ever solve the mystery of his own life?

Immortal is a fantastic book, but it’s not for everyone. It contains a lot of Italian terms and characters that may not be recognizable to someone not interested in art or Italian history, but since I took Latin in college, I found myself creating a picture in my mind of the time period and what was happening around Luca and I thought it was great. Aside from that, 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.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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