Click here to read reviewer Jaimie Bell's take on Immortal.
The early enmity of a street urchin and the evil man who forces him into a children’s brothel are the setting for a 14th-century tale of a flourishing Tuscany filled with creative genius, religious zeal and superstition.
Luca Bastardo is only nine when he is captured by Bernardo Silvano and thrust into the bowels of a brothel where no child ever leaves. Enduring years of abuse, Luca is a survivor. The most unusual thing about him - besides his striking beauty - is that he ages so slowly that he is often mistaken for a younger boy.
By the time the plague decimates Florence, the streets are silent, save the rats and moldering piles of bodies, the peacekeeping mercenaries unwilling to tempt infection. It is at this moment that Luca realizes he can escape his imprisonment and wins his freedom by killing Silvano. An act of kindness - sparing Silvano’s son - will come back to haunt Luca years later, a vendetta that will not die out until the slaughter of the monster is avenged.
With nowhere to go, Luca turns to the Jewish quarter and the home of a man he has saved from a crowd looking to scapegoat the innocent Jews for the plague, Moshe Sforza. This learned physician will open the doors of knowledge for a young man driven by insatiable curiosity.
Having met and made friends with the artist Giotto as a child, Luca, through the assistance of his new friends, expands his horizons, including the acquaintance of the enigmatic Wanderer and an elderly man who initiates Luca into the fine art of alchemy, offering an opportunity for Luca to embrace both longevity and the alchemist’s secrets.
Yearning to know about his parents, Luca has only been able to ascertain that they are of the nobility and somehow connected with the Cathars, a sect the Church has long deemed heretical. Luca is unable to make progress in his quest, save the knowledge that Silvano held a document of much value to Rome, decidedly to Luca’s detriment.
Leaving Florence, Luca wanders yet always returns to the city’s irresistible siren song. Falling into the influential sphere of the Medicis, Luca is indeed learned and sophisticated, becoming friends with the fledgling artist Leonardo da Vinci. Caught up in the politics of Florence through the threats of Lorenzo Medici, Luca finally meets the love of his life.
United, the couple turns away from politics at a dangerous time, the Inquisition growing through the Confraternity of the Red Feather, Savonarola and the ancestors of Silvano. By the time Luca meets his fate and surrenders to the torture of the Inquisitors, he has finally resolved the lifelong dance with what he calls the two faces of God, the punishing one and the Laughing God.
Unresisting, Luca embraces the truth of his journey, the loss of his loved ones and the ecstasy of death, his journey flush with beauty and creativity, evil and depravity excoriated by the joy of once more uniting with his loved ones after a fiery death.