From Publishers Weekly
In Hickman's coincidence-heavy latest (after The Aviary Gate), Paul Pindar, a 17th-century English merchant working in Venice, is obsessed with the Sultan's Blue, a 322-carat diamond coveted by every collector in the plague-ravaged city. Pindar, broke from drinking and gambling, needs the diamond to ransom his captive love from a sultan's harem. Intertwined with his story are those of Sister Annetta, a convent novitiate who alone knows how the Sultan's Blue came to Venice, and Maryam, an acrobat charged with escorting a crippled mute and her deformed newborn (who might be a mermaid) to Venice. When Pindar learns that the Sultan's Blue will be the prize in a high-stakes card game, he desperately tries to scheme his way to the table, going against warnings from fellow traders Ambrose Smith, a covert intelligencer, and John Carew, a friend with his own secret. Though the narrative moves from Pindar to Annetta to Maryam in a frustratingly helter-skelter fashion, Hickman provides a convincing portrait of a troubled Venice that will tide readers over until the story elements click into place just in time for a series of satisfying resolutions.
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Suspicion, greed, and love fuel this sequel to The Aviary Gate (2008), which resolves the inconclusive relationship at the heart of that book. In early-seventeenth-century Italy, a wandering troupe of women acrobats is persuaded to take a frail, damaged woman and her infant, whose fused legs make her seem like a mermaid, to Venice. At the same time, Englishman Paul Pindar, a merchant in Venice, is becoming increasingly addicted to gambling as he still grieves for his fiancée, Celia Lamprey, lost long before in a shipwreck. As Pindar bets everything on a high-stakes game for the beautiful and mystical diamond known as the Sultan’s Blue, his servant, John Carew, who’s fond of bedding young nuns at the convent across the lagoon, finds that place a source of both information and love. Hickman’s well-researched, vivid portraits of seventeenth-century life—from the stinking Venetian canals to the threat of plague, in settings ranging from a sultan’s harem to a cloistered convent—add so much vigor to this historical novel that it’s easy to forgive the divergent plotlines and somewhat rushed wrap-up. --Michele Leber
"Katie Hickman’s vividly drawn historical confection transports us to 17th-century Venice, where an English merchant schemes to win the 322-carat gem of the novel’s title at the gaming table while several storylines converge with page-turning satisfaction." – Barnes & Noble Review
“Hickman’s well-researched, vivid portraits of seventeenth-century life—from the stinking Venetian canals to the threat of plague, in settings rangingfrom a sultan’s harem to a cloistered convent—add... much vigor to this historical novel” – Booklist
“Masks, courtesans, nefarious plots, plague—Hickman’s panorama of early-17th-century Venice has it all.” –Kirkus
“A celebrated writer of history and travel books, Katie Hickman has always been a master of evoking time and place. With The Pindar Diamond , her follow-up to The Aviary Gate , she brings early-seventeenth-century Italy vividly to life, and also demonstrates her maturity as a novelist. A tale of love and avarice, with a touch of the mystical, The Pindar Diamond is rich with historical detail, and unfolds with urgency and grace. It is accomplished, wholly satisfying historical fiction.” –Passages to the Past
'Beautifully written, glamorous, disturbing and very dark' Wendy Holden, Daily Mail 'A vividly sensuous tale' Daily Telegraph 'Nuns, precious gems, swashbucklers and courtesans, plus a plot to keep you on your toes, are stirred and shaken into pure escapism' Sunday Times 'No one writes historical novels more evocatively than Hickman ... The Pindar Diamond will utterly transport you' Stylist
About the Author
Katie Hickman is the author of several previous books, including history books, travel narratives, and novels. She has been shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and for the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year award. Hickman lives in London with her two children and her husband, the philosopher A.C. Grayling.