The Malice of Fortune

  • by Michael Ennis
  • Narrated by Adrian Paul, Carlotta Montanari, John Lee, Fred Sanders
  • 14 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


What the Critics Say

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Unintelligible Reader and So-So Story

Shame on me! I broke one of my cardinal rules and bought this book without listening to the preview. The female reader’s accent is so heavy the words are mostly unintelligible. Instead of being able to concentrate on the book, I had to focus on trying to understand what she was saying. Not being one to waste a credit, I suffered through it but by the middle of the book I just didn’t care anymore and my ears were burning and bleeding.
The plot is average at best. I rushed to buy this book because one of the critics said it was as good as “The Name of the Rose”. It is NOT even close. As I am not a historian of 16th century politics, I must take on good faith that all events in the book are true. I must say that the only thing I got from the book was a feeling that I am glad I did not live in those times.
Since this is a new book by a new author, I am sure there will be a rush by the “Shill Reviewers” from the Author and the publishing house to declare this book a 5-star masterpiece second only to The Bible in importance. I also expect my review to be "Not Helpful" by them (and others). To this I give them the Bronx Cheer and proudly hold up one finger to represent one star.
If this review was helpful, please let me know. Cheers!
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- Dataman "Say something about yourself!"

Two Mediocre Hams Read Silly Story

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

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.

What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

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?

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


Any additional comments?

I'm with Steven -- never again buy a book that hasn't yet been reviewed. Lesson learned.

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Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-11-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio