The Fifth Servant

The Fifth Servant

Book - 2010
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"Whatever you are currently reading, I promise you it is not nearly as intelligent, witty, compelling, or entertaining as The Fifth Servant....Wishnia makes history come alive."
-- David Liss, author of The Devil's Company

A brilliantly imagined, beautifully written combination of scrupulously researched historical novel and riveting suspense thriller, Kenneth Wishnia's The Fifth Servant carries readers back to 16th century Prague in the shadow of the Papal Inquisition--and introduces a uniquely unforgettable protagonist, a young Talmudic scholar who has three days to solve a heinous murder before official reprisals decimate the city's Jewish community. A richly atmospheric tale of religion, mystery, and intrigue, The Fifth Servant recreates life in the era when Emperor Rudolph II occupied the throne--a time of uncertainty and fear viewed through the eyes of an intrepid rabbinical student on a quest for truth and justice.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, [2010], ©2010
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780061725388
Branch Call Number: FICTION Wis
Description: xii, 387 pages : map ; 24 cm


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Jun 06, 2014

I am fascinated by the medieval Jewish community. What they were accused of, and how they survived is a marvel, when almost no one liked them and they were accused of everything bad that ever happened in the areas they lived.

I think this story did a fantastic job of describing the lives of those in the Prague Jewish ghetto. It also creates a very believable atmosphere for the city, both in and out of the ghetto, when the Jewish are accused of killing a Christian girl. The author obviously did a vast amount of research and it shows in the quality of historical fact in the book.

Jul 26, 2011

This story is an historical Jewish crime drama. I don't think that I've read a story with that descriptor before! The story is very dense with many different characters, some do not seem all that important to the telling of the story. It took a while to get into the flow of the novel. I read this as an e pub book. I think an actual book may have been better as I could have looked up all the Jewish words and phrasing more easily in the glosery. Once I did get into the story I liked it. I felt like I was there with the main characters. I really enjoy learning about other times, history, other cultures. The characters are extremely well developed and the dialogue is very authentic. Here are two quotes from conversations with the main Characters.
“The Talmud encourages us to look at every side of an issue, every detail, no matter how trivial, because the work of finding a satisfactory answer is never done.”
“But how do you enforce a rabbinic opinion if it's not enshrined in law?”
“We don't.”
“Then what do you do?”
“We learn to live with conflicting opinions.”

“The Rabbi Isserles sounds like a very practical and wise man. A real... uh.. what's the word? A hasid?”
“You probably mean a tsadek.”
“What's the difference?”
“A hasid is a pious man who always keeps to the letter of the law, and a tsadek is righteous man who finds meaning in the gaps between the letters of the law.”


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