Phew! Q, what a rollicking good read!

I recently finished reading ‘Q’ a novel by Luthur Blissett, Arrow Books.

It’s a book that blasts you through the religious wars of 16th Century Northern Europe at a cracking pace. The authors (all four of them) are truly steeped in the knowledge of the period’s history – and it shows! The characters are real, living and, all too often, bloody participants in the protestant (in this case German Anabaptist) struggle to overthrow the Catholic Church’s Holy Empire. But more, it’s the story of people’s struggle to overthrow the dominant mindset imposed  by the Catholic Church through its priests, bishops, cardinals and the knights and armies of landed princelings. Full of intrigue, rebellion, revolution, counter-revolution, double-cross, and double-dealing ‘Q’ shifts brilliantly from the thoughts, feelings and desires of the ‘highest’ in the land to those experienced by the lowliest landless peasant or whore.

‘Q’ shows dramatically how ideas have no national boundaries. How technology, in this case the printing press, became a tool for liberation. Just look how the internet, Facebook, mobile phones, etc. were closed down recently by various North African rulers and compare that to the efforts of the Catholic Church to prevent the spread across the continent of bibles translated into European languages and made available to the masses. How revolutionary it was to read or hear, for the first time, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, “Blessed are the poor…”, etc.

In 16th Century Europe politics and religion were nigh on inseparable and religious unity was regarded by the state and religious establishments across Europe as essential for political union. Thus those who followed the teachings of Martin Luther and other reformist protestants challenged not only established Catholic belief but also the authority of the Kings and Princes of Christendom.  There’s a huge debate currently being led by mainstream historians who are saying that the religious wars in 16th Century Europe were just that; wars about religious beliefs. These historians challenge the counter-view that the initial Lutheran ideas of reform of the Catholic Church were then taken up by the ‘middle sort’ of people and by destitute peasants who craved a revolution and the establishment of a common wealth based on the original world of Adam & Eve where all was in common ownership. This book, allows us to see tsunami shock-waves of humanity sweeping away the old order and old ways of thinking and does so through the eyes of fact-fictionalised characters who will inspire all who read this book.

‘Q’ is so refreshing. Normally books about this period in European history deal with the Kings, Queens, Popes and Bishops – the ‘big’ names – this one rollercoasts across Europe following the lives and exploits of individuals who have few means, plenty of courage and are armed with a will to turn the world upon its head – in the face of overwhelming odds. These people changed the world. These people made us who we are today. Read this book!


About Jim McNeill

I am a blogger on 'The Social History of the Touraine region of France (37)' and also 'The Colonial History of Pennsylvania and the life & Family of William Penn'. I am a Director of Fresh Ground Group Ltd.
This entry was posted in 16th Century, Protestantism + Huguenots, Wars of Religion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Phew! Q, what a rollicking good read!

  1. Jim McNeill says:

    You’re very welcome ~ I hope you enjoy it.
    My partner and friends have just (this evening) started a french-english book club ~ they’ll be meeting once a month in the South Touraine. It’s quite informal – getting to know each other combined with exploring new authors recommended by members of the group. Would you like her to sent you further details? If so do send me your e-address to

  2. GaynorB says:

    I’ll be swerving to Amazon asap! I like a good read, especially something which promises to be a bit different. I’ll save the book for our Easter holiday in Le Petit-Pressigny. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Jim McNeill says:

    Hi Jean

    Glad you enjoyed the post. You can get a copy of Q via Amazon – there’s a link on the blog page.
    I loved your description and images of Ligueil ~ if you haven’t already you might want to view the 4 posts I’ve written about the town ~ it’s quite an interesting place and I want to write more about it – its waterways, park, market, its two bakers!, etc. I’ve also been meaning to take a phot of the delapidated urinal at the back of the curch – do you mind if I use yours (I’ll say where it comes from).
    There are so many places that Sandra and I pass through by car and always mean to stop. But spring’s just about here and it’ll be time to get out our bikes and wander.

  4. jean lacey says:

    This sounds exactly my cup of tea. If I can find a copy I will read it. Thanks for the recommendation.

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