Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer, as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the western canon, The Prince....
When Pope Alexander dispatches a Vatican courtesan, Damiata, to the remote fortress city of Imola to learn the truth behind the murder of Juan, his most beloved illegitimate son, she cannot fail, for the scheming Borgia pope holds her own young son hostage. Once there, Damiata becomes a pawn in the political intrigues of the pope’s surviving son, the charismatic Duke Valentino, whose own life is threatened by the condottieri, a powerful cabal of mercenary warlords. Damiata suspects that the killer she seeks is one of the brutal condottierri, and as the murders multiply, her quest grows more urgent. She enlists the help of an obscure Florentine diplomat, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Valentino’s eccentric military engineer, Leonardo da Vinci, who together must struggle to decipher the killer’s taunting riddles: Leonardo with his groundbreaking "science of observation" and Machiavelli with his new "science of men". Traveling across an Italy torn apart by war, they will enter a labyrinth of ancient superstition and erotic obsession to discover at its center a new face of evil - and a truth that will shake the foundations of western civilization.
"Epic.... This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, with which it is sure to be compared." (Kirkus )
"Absorbing and intelligent.... Fans of superior historical mystery writers such as Steven Saylor and Laura Jo Rowland will be enthralled." (Publishers Weekly)
"With its vivid, well-defined array of characters, The Malice of Fortune captures the glorious and gritty details of Renaissance Italy in a propulsive story. Ennis has achieved a great accomplishment, historical fiction that places us right into the characters' present." (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Technologists)
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An Unintelligible Reader and So-So Story
- Dataman "Say something about yourself!"
Two Mediocre Hams Read Silly Story
Oh, let's say a coherent story not dependent on ever-escalating scenes of gruesome violence against women, for starters. I'd sort of expected more Machiavelli -- you know, The Prince -- and less over-the-top genre murder.
The plot is ho-hum, the characters unbelievable and shallow.
Let me count the ways --
Female was unintelligible and the male's various voices turned me off to key characters, Da Vinci, especially. What a pity.
But peeve-above-all is this -- presumably these characters are narrating in their own languages, i.e., "Damieta" is reading from her own letter. So WHY these clownish and unintelligible Italian accents?
I'm with Steven -- never again buy a book that hasn't yet been reviewed. Lesson learned.