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The Shadow Of The Lion (Heirs of Alexandria) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The prolific Lackey (the Bardic Voices series, the Urban Faerie series, etc.) and cohorts Flint (1632) and Freer (The Forlorn) whip up a luscious bouillabaisse of politics, intrigue, love and black magic set in an "Other-worldly, New-Age Venice." Like the actual 16th-century city-state, the authors' Venice of the 1530s is a dangerous place, filled with as many illicit love affairs as murders. Garbage and occasional dead bodies float in the stinking canals. The city is also a target for would-be foreign conquerors: the Vatican, the Holy Roman Empire, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, and the small city-state of Ferrara, ruled by Enrico Dell'este, who surreptitiously watches his grandsons, Marco and Benito, the story's water-rat heroes. Around Benito, a thief, and Marco, a canal doctor, swirl a host of characters, major and minor: the men and women who ply the gondolas and rafts; the spy Caesare Aldanto, the boys' supporter; plus courtesans, whores, monks, priests, knights, shamans, undines and the demon Chernobog. Meanwhile, the winged lion of St. Mark's, symbol of Venice, is stirring, and its shadow falls on Marco as the city's future ruler. The authors' use of contemporary American vernacular "get real," "fat chance," etc. instead of pompous period speech keeps the pages turning fast, but the last-minute stampede of fantastic monsters that abruptly resolves the story's various conflicts makes for a clunky climax. In a book this fat the glossary at the end is essential.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Three writers (the others are Eric Flint and Dave Freer) collaborate on this massive concoction of alternate history, high fantasy, and historical romance set in the sixteenth-century Venice of an alternate world in which Catholicism is factionalized, the Hohenstauffens instead of the Habsburgs rule the Holy Roman Empire, magic works, and the grand duke of Lithuania is trying to use that magic against his enemy, the emperor. The central characters are half-brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, grandsons of the duke of Ferrara who are hiding from their grandfather's enemies by posing as Venetian street (or canal) urchins. In a complex web of incidents, coincidences, luck good and bad, and the mixed motives of sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, the boys' personal fates become central to Venice's survival in the face of the northern menace. Brevity isn't the soul or any other part of this book, and the appended glossary is utterly necessary. Yet rich plotting, vivid characterization, and splendid evocation of Renaissance ethics and culture should make readers turn all the pages. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heirs of Alexandria
  • Mass Market Paperback: 936 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; 1st edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743471474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743471473
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Walt Boyes VINE VOICE on May 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love historical novels, especially the really well researched and lushly written kind, like the late, and very much lamented Dame Dorothy Dunnett wrote, and I love science fiction, fantasy and alternate history. Mercedes Lackey, Dave Freer and Eric Flint have managed to write an alternative historical fantasy about 16th century Venice. So I got three of my favorites in one shot.
This novel is long. But it never flags. The pace is headlong, but the descriptions are clear, crisp and detailed. And the characters are wonderful, especially the little people, the spearcarriers, and the supporting cast.
A case in point is the use of a certain Basque priest as a main supporting character. It plays great without knowing who that character is based on, but it adds piquancy indeed to know that the character is really St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
The magic isn't intrusive where it shouldn't be, and is organic... that is, it doesn't just come from anywhere, and there are clear rules about how it works.
The magic isn't nearly as important to the plot as the convoluted and terrifyingly complex politics in the story. Remember, this is the same part of Europe that was still reading Macchiavelli as a "How To" textbook.
I read snippets before publication, and I can't wait for the next one. The collaboration of Lackey, Freer and Flint is greater than each of them alone. And since Lackey and Flint are known for being extremely good on their own, and Freer is too, just not as well known, that's saying a lot.
Buy this book. You will be swept away.
The Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Rodriguez on August 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I must admit, I wasn't particularly looking forward to this book. While I love certain of Mercedes Lackey's writing - especially her Elemental Masters and Free Bards series and her historical retellings of fairy tales - I've never warmed up to her Valdemar books, and I'd never read anything by (or even about) her two co-authors, Eric Flint and David Freer.
I started the book, and was underwhelmed. While the concept seemed interesting - an alternate Renaissance Italy where magic works - the execution seemed clunky, introducing over a dozen major characters within the first chapter or so (a common mistake in historical novels). But within the first few chapters, I found myself caught up by the characters and the events that tied their lives together. By this point, the book had become so gripping that I couldn't stop until I finished it - and at 800-some pages, that takes a while! This is a wonderful book, and has persuaded me to check out some books by Flint and Freer while I'm at it. Certainly if you're at all interested in historical fantasy (especially dealing with alternate histories) you should give this book a chance.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Allegra on March 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this collaboration of Lackey, Flint and Freer. I had been rather disappointed with Lackey's latest offerings (except The Serpent's Shadow)and, while I love and adore Flint, his books with Freer are lightweight bordering on silly. This book really worked for me. I couldn't identify the various authors which is often a problem with collaborations and the plot moved seamlessly from one story line to another. Unlike other reviewers,I had no problem with following the plot, the characters or the intrigue and I don't believe other Lackey or Flint fans will have trouble either. Nor is the Shakespeare reference difficult for any high school student who has read Romeo and Juliet!
The story, set in an alternate world Venice, is an adventure, a fantasy, a court intrigue, a romance, in other words, something for all tastes but in a unified package with great and sympathetic characters. Don't let the heft of the package put you off - The Shadow of the Lion is long but well written, using an easy to read vernacular. Highly recommended.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CFE on March 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first thing to say is that I like almost everything that Mercedes Lackey has written and so I am predisposed to like this. I have to say, however, that I suspect that Ms Lackey did not write the lions's share of this book (or perhaps she did write that part because the book gets much more 'Lackey-like' when touching on the supernatural). (The Lion of St Mark features in the book)
The book is really an alternative history and will, I think be enjoyed by people who like relatively lightweight alternative history. It creates a world where the Library at Alexandria was not burned and the wisdom and knowledge contained there was saved by Hypatia, the courageous librarian who was unable to protect the library in our world . (Hypatia is obviously a favorite of Ms Lackey's .since she 'featured' in The Ship Who Searched'). The theory is that the Library contained much arcane knowledge and that as the result of saving it Hypatia was beatified and set up a tolerant and liberal Christian denomination with St John Chrystomenes (sp?) (who in real life was, I believe, dismissed as a crazy fanatic). In addition the knowledge of and practice of magic is very much a part of this world. Furthermore there is a substantial pagan presence. Some of these pagans are Mages. There is a group called the Strega (again , not well explained, they seem to be the equivalent of gypsies), whom the Church - or certain factions in it - are oppressing. Many of the Strega work magic in some form.
In this sixteenth century Venice the Church has factions who follow St Peter (the Petrines) and those who follow St Paul (the Paulines) and some Hypatians.
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