THE BOOK OF SPLENDOR
In preparation for a possible massacre of the Jews of Prague, Rabbi Loew crafts a golem (a legendary creature created to save the innocent from unimaginable horrors) from the mud of the river and breathes life into him. The golem, though mute, is immediately infused with humanity and falls in love with Rochel, a poor, illegitimate seamstress who recently married the town's shoemaker.
In his palace across the river, Emperor Rudolph II plots to find the elixir of life. He brings English alchemists John Dee and Edward Kelly to Prague to produce the potion. Rudolph then becomes convinced that Rabbi Loew possesses the secret of eternal life and holds the entire Jewish community hostage.
Blending mysticism, historical fact and a pair of unusual lovers, Sherwood fashions a magical, compelling story infused, like the golem, with the flavor of life in 17th-century Prague, This intelligent, fascinating novel will endear Sherwood to readers of all faiths. SWEET (Jul., 348 pp., $14.95)