I wrote it in 42 writing days, four of those in January of 2016, then 17 days in Italy (Florence and Sardinia) in May/June 2017 (in which I wrote 40,000 words) and the rest after I got home in September 2017.
It’s 116,000 words long, which makes it a little longer than most of my novels. It was inspired by a letter of Marsilio Ficino, quoted in Donald Weinstein’s Savonarola: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Prophet.
It will be published by Tor on 28th May 2019.
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Girolamo’s mix of moral rigidity and reflexive kindness makes him a complex yet affecting guide to this intricate set of alternate histories, each rendered gently but with a devastating emotional weight. Fans of Connie Willis and The Good Place will be awed by this nuanced, loving grapple with better selves and better worlds.
Kirkus, Starred Review
From Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning Jo Walton comes Lent, a magical re-imagining of the man who remade fifteenth-century Florence—in all its astonishing strangeness
Young Girolamo’s life is a series of miracles.
It’s a miracle that he can see demons, plain as day, and that he can cast them out with the force of his will. It’s a miracle that he’s friends with Pico della Mirandola, the Count of Concordia. It’s a miracle that when Girolamo visits the deathbed of Lorenzo “the Magnificent,” the dying Medici is wreathed in celestial light, a surprise to everyone, Lorenzo included. It’s a miracle that when Charles VIII of France invades northern Italy, Girolamo meets him in the field, and convinces him to not only spare Florence but also protect it. It’s a miracle than whenever Girolamo preaches, crowds swoon. It’s a miracle that, despite the Pope’s determination to bring young Girolamo to heel, he’s still on the loose…and, now, running Florence in all but name.
That’s only the beginning. Because Girolamo Savanarola is not who—or what—he thinks he is. He will discover the truth about himself at the most startling possible time. And this will be only the beginning of his many lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is Lent set in the same universe as any of your other books?
A. They’re real people from the real world, and I’m using them again in a different universe. They’re also in Or What You Will.
Q. Why are Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola in so many of your books?
A. They’re just that awesome.
Q, Is apocatastasis a heresy?
A. No, although Pope Innocent VIII condemned it as a heresy when it appeared in Pico’s work, it was propounded by St. Gregory of Nyssa, who is a saint, and can be therefore be considered to be part of canonical Christianity.
Q. Where did you get the idea for the way the Lent universe works?
A. It’s a weird theory of Ficino’s. No, really.
Q. What should I read if I want to know more about Renaissance Italy?