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The Master of Verona (Star-Cross'd Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

David Blixt
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Romeo & Juliet is the greatest love story ever told.

Every story has a beginning.

A sweeping novel of Renaissance Italy, THE MASTER OF VERONA follows Pietro Alaghieri, eldest son of the poet Dante, as he’s caught up by the charisma and genius of Verona’s ruler, Cangrande della Scala. Pietro risks battles, duels, and murder to impress his new lord. At the heart of the story is an infernal plot against Cangrande’s bastard heir, and the rivalry of two friends over the affections of a girl - a rivalry will sever a friendship, divide a city, and spark a feud that will someday produce the star-cross’d lovers.

Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, THE MASTER OF VERONA is a novel of brutal warfare, lost friendship, and dire conspiracy, combining to create an epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell and Dorothy Dunnett.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Upon the death of his elder brother in 1314, Pietro Alaghieri, 17, is thrust headlong into the post of scion to his father, the famous poet Dante, in this rollicking historical debut from Shakespearean actor Blixt. In trying to keep up with his razor-sharp father and their new patron, the scintillating and brilliant Francesco della Scalla (known as "Cangrande"), Pietro finds qualities in himself that surprise him. Cangrande may or may not be the prophesied "Greyhound" who is to cast out evil and usher in a new world under God—many seek the role. Meanwhile, Pietro's two best friends, Mariotto and Antonio, are pushed to the edge of rekindling an ancient blood feud by their joint love of a woman, which stretches Pietro's loyalties to their limits. The precipitous ending, marked with dizzying revelations by the protagonists, do nothing to mar a novel of intricate plot, taut narrative, sharp period detail and beautifully realized characters. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Intricate plotting, well-staged scenes, and colorful descriptions enhance head-spinning but lively entertainment. - Kirkus Reviews
A novel of intricate plot, taut narrative, sharp period detail and beautifully realized characters. - Publisher's Weekly
Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it.  - Historical Novel Society
A delightful romp through the backstory of 'Romeo & Juliet.' - Chicago Sun-Times
David Blixt bursts onto the historical fiction scene with this masterful tale of adventure, love, and intrigue -- this is high adventure at its best, an epic novel filled with the breathtaking feats and evanescent beauty of the early Renaissance.  - C.W. GORTNER, The Last Queen and The Confessions Of Catherine De Medici. 

Shakespearean actor David Blixt traces the genesis of the famous feud between the Montagues and Capulets in this sharp, arresting novel that is completely impossible to put down.  - MICHELLE MORAN, Nefertiti and Madame Tussaud
Dante's Italy and the internecine, blood-feuding struggle of the dominant families of the northern city states. This story of corruption and the quest for power is as compelling as Mario Puzo's Godfather and as thrilling as any of Rafael Sabatini's historical adventures.  - PETER TREMAYNE, The Chalice Of Blood

For anyone who has not yet read one or more of David's novels, you are about to hit the literary lottery. Yes, he is that good. In his hands, history comes to bright, blazing life. " - SHARON KAY PENMAN, The Sunne In Splendour and Lionheart

Product Details

  • File Size: 5470 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615874746
  • Publisher: Sordelet Ink (April 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,751 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but... November 15, 2008
I have just finished 'The Master of Verona' and I must say I've a sort of bittersweet taste in my mouth.
First things first: I am a Veronese and for us tales of Cangrande e Dante are the stories we grew up with, almost every corner of the old town is linked to them in some way, so I'm a bit sensitive about a novel featuring both of them.

I like history and I like historical novels, and I realize that novels take liberties with history to tell a good story, and The Master of Verona *is* a good story, but, there are a few things that marred my enjoyment.

The use of Italian in the novel is often awkward,for instance no one would say 'Signore Montecchio' in addressing another, it would be either 'Signor Montecchio' (rater modern-sounding) or, in the old way, 'Messer Montecchio'. It probably doesn't mean much for the average reader in English, but for someone who knows Italian this sort of repeated little mistakes is comparable to the irritation of driving over a bumpy road.

In chapter 17 (page 218 of the trade paperback ) at the beginning of the horse Palio, a rider utters, in Italian, what is defined immediately after as a 'joyful curse'. I believe Mr. Blixt was somehow misled, since what the character says is, in fact, a very strong blasphemy. I do not object to strong language when it has a reason to be there, and mr. Blixt's use of it is definitely not gratuitous, so this faux-pas (I don't think it was intentional)definitely stands out.

I like many characters in the book and I feel their relations and their development are well done, Pietro is a likeable protagonist, young Cesco is intriguing, Immanuel Ben Solomon and Gemma Donati have interesting cameos, Cangrande is the Cangrande we in Verona are proud of...up to the last 20 pages.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite Beach Book of Summer 2007 September 5, 2007
When I started The Master of Verona, I had no intention of reading a 560 page book in three days. I had other things to do.

I read the book instead.

The book's scope of topics is as broad and intricate as a medieval tapestry; just when you think you've seen it all, Blixt draws your eye to a new detail as compelling as the last. There's Pietro, son of Dante, learning to become a knight under the shadow of his famous father. There's medieval Italian politics as vicious as anything you see on The Sopranos. There's great female characters like Antonia Alighieri and Katerina Della Scala using words as devastatingly as the men use swords. There's the historical figure of Cangrande attacking a neighboring city in a battle sequence as vivid as those you find in Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books. There's a horse race that makes a NASCAR crash look tepid and a duel that only a writer who's also a fight choreographer and swordsman himself could write. Blixt also throws in a mysterious child, assassination attempts, oracular prophecies, and a villain as curiously loathsome as one from Dickens or Dumas. All of this should collapse into an unreadable mess, but Blixt's well-honed prose, characters, and narrative line turned it instead into my favorite beach book of summer 2007. Oh, and if that weren't good enough, throughout the book, you come to empathize with the fathers of both Romeo and Juliet and watch as their friendship turns to hate. I can't wait for his next book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant mix of history and Shakespeare August 10, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book has it all: adventure, intrigue, drama, duels, battles, and a little sex thrown in for good measure. And the characterizations are extraordinary. If Mr. Blixt had not done such an amazing job building such complete, three-dimensional characters, it would be hard to believe that such intriguing figures as Cangrande, his sister Katerina or the fascinating Antonia Alaghieri actually existed. As a bonus, the narrative is liberally peppered with appearances by some of William Shakespeare's most famous Italian characters, and we see how the turmoil of northern Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance led to the famous feud at the heart of "Romeo and Juliet."

One aspect that I particularly enjoyed was the characters' various dispositions on astrology, which plays a central role in the novel. Given the time period, it is fascinating to watch as a culture begins to shrug off the mysticism of its past.

It is a wonder that more books don't employ the setting and characters of David Blixt's debut novel. Between the people and locales which inspired the works of William Shakespeare and the historical personages of Dante and Cangrande della Scala, I am amazed that more writers have not mined this period more thoroughly. That said, I wonder if there are very many who could do it better than "Master of Verona."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an exceptional story September 25, 2007
Have you ever wondered why the Montagues and Capulets of Romeo and Juliet began their famous feud? David Blixt has, and in answer, he gives us The Master of Verona.

Yet, The Master of Verona isn't so much about the feud (though it is in there) as it is about Congrand della Scala. Told through the perspective of Pietro Alagheri, son of Dante (The Inferno), we catch a slice of Veronese life on the brink of Renaissance.

The cast of characters is enormous (and, thankfully, it is provided at the beginning of the book). Fictional characters intermingle with historical figures as well as Shakespearian figures. They all have names like Gargano Montecchio and Marsilio Da Carrara, and if it isn't enough that most of the names sound like someone else's, they all have nicknames as well. All that is said to say that to read this book is a commitment. But if you'll hang in there for a few chapters (and refer regularly to the cast), it will be worth it.

I am rather unfamiliar with this time period, so I can't be certain, but this novel seems very well researched and accurate to the times. Even the author will tell you that he potentially took some liberties with the life of Dante and the work of Shakespeare, though not direct contradictions to historical record.

I found this to be a highly engaging and exceptional story. It took a good bit for me to get into it and keep track of the characters, but once I did, it was thoroughly enjoyable. It is an intimidating work. But even if you aren't familiar with the period, their weapons, their manners and their customs, you will be before you are finished.

Armchair Interviews says: This read is well worth the effort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Useless "Book Review Guy" quotes
This book, and this series, will make you thankful that you learned to read.
Blixt's characters will jump off the page into your home; where they will eat your food, drink... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Anthony C Granato
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining medieval literary/historical stuff...but the...
Plenty of other delighted readers give a good overview of the myriad strengths of this well-done conflation of Dante, Shakespeare and medieval Italian history. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich tapestry, engrossing and entertaining!
This book was my first experience with David Blixt's writing, and what a treat. I have since read all of his other works and none have disappointed. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nancy T. Theodore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I enjoyed this book. I had not read much about historical Italy, but this book has piqued my interest. It has interesting characters and moves at a very rapid pace.
Published 5 months ago by Nan
5.0 out of 5 stars Put this on your must read list!
Loved the drama of another period in time. Reading this book made me feel as if I was there, and I could become part of it. The characters were believable and the plot intriguing.
Published 5 months ago by Carol A. Sizemore
4.0 out of 5 stars R&J meet Pertrucchio and his Shrew
You know, this is fun stuff! David Blixt has crafted a tale that doesn't depend upon the Bard's stories to give power to his own. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical read
This book is very interesting if you are into Italian history and,Mystery. Being Italian, I was interested. In the beginning it can be confusing with the variations on names. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Cc
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Craftsman
David Blixt is a marvelous craftsman of his trade blending historical figures and fiction to present a story that can't be put down. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Shirley A Lawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterfully Crafted Historical Fiction
"The Master of Verona" is a masterfully crafted story that weaves in Shakespearian characters and events as well as notable figures from the Renaissance age. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Believer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
If you like historical fiction, action, with a little romance and lots of intrigue, you'll enjoy this book. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Techno Grama
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More About the Author

Author and playwright David Blixt's work is consistently described as "intricate," "taut," and "breathtaking." A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS'D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE'S FOOL) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY'S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, "Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it."

Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as "actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order."

For more about David and his novels, visit

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