Michael Ennis is the New York Times best selling author of the historical thriller The Malice of Fortune, published in the United States by Doubleday in September 2012, and internationally in twelve countries to date. His previous international best-selling historical novels are Byzantium and Duchess of Milan. He earned his degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a former John D. Rockefeller III Foundation Fellow. His non-fiction writing, on subjects ranging from military preparedness and national politics to art and architecture, has won several national awards, been included in the curriculum of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and has been published in a number of books and anthologies as well as magazines ranging from Esquire and Texas Monthly to I.D., ARTnews, and Architectural Digest.
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.” Travelling 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 civilisation.
There is a Tag line on the front of this book that goes “A Simmering stew, thick with chicanery, Bloodshed, code breaking and Puzzle solving.”
This is about as accurate a review as you will probably find.
For me the book was not my normal fare, there was not a lot to love about any of the characters, even though we saw the story through the eyes of first Damiata and then Niccolo. Whilst the story was at times tragic, at others horrific and bloody with the murders committed by the killer. There seemed very little that was personal for me in the tale.
The scene setting and history is wonderful, and very atmospheric, you can feel the cold of the sea and of the winter nights. But while i could feel the time period , the weather, the violence and i could feel the momentous history and occasion. I could not feel the desire, the passion and the fear of the main characters.
I will take that failing as my own not the author, i think this is a book well worth reading, despite it not hitting every chord with me.
This is not a blood and thunder action book, it is not action adventure, it is a romantic tragedy set in the back drop of history, with character names that just leap off the page. Borgia, Machiavelli and Da Vinci to name a few. This alone makes it worth a look. I hope the romantic tragedy angle works for you, i wish it had for me, because if it had this would have been right up there in great reads this year.