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The Shadow of the Lion (Heirs of Alexandria) Hardcover – March, 2002
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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.
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
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Top customer reviews
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What makes this world different is that magic works, at least sometimes. The plot does not necessarily follow history. The future of this world is not known by reading a history of Europe.
All three of the collaborating authors are known for their memorable characters, You are sure to find someone to root for.
I have all of the series, including both (completely different) Vol 2's and have been know to re-read them.
Many will do a book report on this first - of - the - series. I simply say I liked it enough to intentionally buy it twice. I would be surprised should anyone want their money back.
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.
For me, this was all the better. I love a good fantasy, but I also appreciate getting a book I can sink my teeth into - and this one is a book that cannot be digested all in one bite. There is a 25 page prologue that takes you over 3 different locations and 8 characters - and these are just the men that pull the strings of power, not the heros and heroines of the book. Then in the next 25 pages you meet Benito, Katerina and Marco the most major characters in the book.
Its a daunting 50 pages and can leave you feeling overwhelmed, but once you get past it the book begins to draw you in. As advertised on the front cover, it IS "Rich plotting, vivid characterization.." As a matter of fact, at the end I found myself wondering about the histories and futures of several of the more minor characters as well as what Benito would do in the future. This is not a light read, but it IS a good solid enjoyable one. Buy it and digest it, you'll be glad you did.
Most recent customer reviews
I'm often wary of collaborations, but in this case as I was reading I kept forgetting that the book has more...Read more