Review of Master of the arts

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Cristina-Ioana Toader
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Review of Master of the arts

Post by Cristina-Ioana Toader »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Master of the arts" by Doug McPhillips.]
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4 out of 5 stars
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In Master of the Arts, Doug McPhillips intricately weaves the tapestries of history, philosophy, and fiction into a captivating narrative that transcends time and geography.

Master of the Arts is a historical fiction novel that explores the life of Rustichello da Pisa, a companion of Marco Polo, during their imprisonment in Genoa. While the narrative primarily focuses on Rustichello's intellectual and philosophical journey, it also skillfully introduces Marco Polo's extensive adventures and astute observations in Asia. The connection between the two narratives is Rustichello himself, who, despite being imprisoned, was responsible for documenting Polo's epic Asian journeys. Set against the backdrop of medieval Europe and Asia, the novel delves into themes of resilience, the pursuit of knowledge, and the intertwining of Christian and Islamic civilizations. McPhillips portrays Rustichello as a Renaissance man, navigating through personal loss and societal upheaval, all the while contributing to a legacy of knowledge and cultural exchange that bridges diverse worlds.

What I mostly enjoyed about this book was Rustichello da Pisa’s pilgrimage on the Camino Way, which offers more than a historical journey; it provides a deep dive into his personal philosophy. The narrative reveals how life’s trials—illness, loss, love, and even moments of folly—are not obstacles but essential tests that forge our identities. Rustichello suggests that without these challenges, life would be dull and meaningless, a flat road to nowhere. I appreciate how he emphasizes the importance of learning from every experience, particularly the painful ones. Forgiveness and unconditional love are portrayed as crucial lessons in opening our hearts and understanding trust. Through his reflections, Rustichello not only confronts his own flaws but also illustrates how each encounter and event shapes who we are and who we become.

The only drawback I noticed was the persistent grammatical errors, including issues with capitalization, misspellings, and punctuation, which slightly tarnished my reading experience. These errors occasionally disrupted the engaging narrative that the author skillfully crafted. Despite these issues, the content of the book is thoroughly entertaining and would benefit greatly from meticulous professional editing. Additionally, I encountered some difficulties distinguishing between Rustichello's journal entries, written in the first person, and the author's own sections, written in the third person, due to the lack of proper punctuation marking the transitions.

This book caters to a wide range of readers, from historical fiction enthusiasts and philosophy and theology buffs to fans of character-driven narratives. Master of the Arts explores significant religious themes against the backdrop of the Crusades, offering deep discussions on faith, divine providence, and the philosophical underpinnings of medieval thought. While it focuses on Christian characters and themes, the narrative's exploration of the intersections of religions and their impact on society and personal growth has universal appeal. It's particularly resonant for Christians but also engages those from different religious backgrounds or with a secular interest in history and philosophy.

Having said all this, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars. The only drawback has been the grammatical side, which led to a deduction of one point from a perfect score. I still think Doug McPhillips leaves readers with a poignant reminder of how our hardest challenges shape the core of who we are, urging a reflection on the interconnectedness of faith, history, and personal evolution.

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Master of the arts
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Julie Basil
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Post by Julie Basil »

This sounds like a book that is very interesting. I have previously read a historical fiction novel set during the same time period and am personally interested in hiking the Camino de Santiago someday. I might choose to pass on reading this one though due to the persistent grammatical and formatting errors as I find those very distracting while reading and agree that they detract from the reading experience. Thanks for your thorough and honest review!
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Cristina-Ioana Toader
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Post by Cristina-Ioana Toader »

Julie Basil wrote: 05 Jun 2024, 21:28 This sounds like a book that is very interesting. I have previously read a historical fiction novel set during the same time period and am personally interested in hiking the Camino de Santiago someday. I might choose to pass on reading this one though due to the persistent grammatical and formatting errors as I find those very distracting while reading and agree that they detract from the reading experience. Thanks for your thorough and honest review!
My pleasure. Should you decide to read this book despite the grammar issues (possibly in a future edition with fewer errors), I think you'll appreciate Rustichello's arduous pilgrimage. The journey is detailed with numerous rest stops, local customs, and legends, which should particularly interest you.
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