“I was only an apprentice. I swear it. By all the angels in Heaven.” Fifteen year old Michael de Lorraine was about to lose his life for having been the apprentice of a dilettante, an armchair Magus, when Père Francis Duchienne, apparently just your basic Benedictine Abbot, rescues him from the pyre by calling up a rainstorm and installs him instead in the Monastery of Sainte Felice. Young Michael loses no time in finding out that the motley crew of Sainte Felice is cowl-deep in real magic, with most of the traditional seven artes prohibitae represented.
The year is 1480. The characters are contemporaries of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. The characterizations are robust and realistic, the historiography believable and compelling, especially the descriptions of late medieval magic. You can’t find out why this is by looking only at this book, but if you do a quick web search on the author’s name, you will find she is one of the founders of the Roebuck (American tradition of Cochrane-derived Craft). I had already heard her interview with Carroll “Poke” Runyon on the Hermetic Hour for March 4, 2011, so I had a decent idea of the depth of her knowledge, when my wife, in a typical act of psychic synchronicity, bought the book for me.
I avoid fiction these days, unless it is good historical, occult, or paranormal fiction; my criteria are much more severe than most people’s, as I have a great deal of Aries drive and start to smell like brimstone and shoot sparks from my ears if I feel my time is being wasted.
All that said, I cuddled up with this book and invested gallons of midnight oil in finishing it. I recommend it heartily to anyone interested in the historical period, the development of magic, or just an engrossing read. This book is published under Llewellyn’s Flux imprint, so it is supposed to be for young readers; but whatever the reading level of the book measures out to be, it was congenial to at least one old codger.
Next up: Dr. Leo Martello’s Weird Ways of Witchcraft; M. R. Sellars’s In the Bleak Midwinter; and a whole pile of other interesting stuff.
The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Flux; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches