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Library JournalThis second novel by best-selling Spanish author Falcones (La catedral del mar) features another young male protagonist coming of age in Spain. Hernando is the blue-eyed son of a Moorish mother, raped at age 13 by a Spanish priest, in 16th-century Spain. Hernando senses the rejection of his stepfather and other members of the clandestine Muslim community, but early in adolescence, at the feet of other elders, he learns to appreciate the rich cultural and religious legacy of Moorish Spain. His entire existence unfolds in the uneasy space between the two cultures. When Muslims rebel against abuse, they are killed and expelled. In the heat of one battle, as a young man, Hernando meets his first wife, Fátima. Fierce and firm in her faith, she will shape his existence. The title alludes both to her and to the hamsa amulet, also known in Spanish as "la mano de Fátima." Readable and engaging, this massive tome is grounded in meticulous historical research. The twists and turns of Hernando's life provide a tour of early modern Spain, with an emphasis on the human tragedies and triumphs of the Moorish peoples. At its heart, though, the book is a love story not just about a man and the women about whom he cares deeply but also about the culture he is bound to by faith and passion. Highly recommended for larger bookstores and libraries.—Laura Barbas-Rhoden, Wofford Coll., Spartanburg, SC
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