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". Traveling 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 civilization.
©2012 Random House Audio (P)2012 Michael Ennis
"Epic.... This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, with which it is sure to be compared." (Kirkus )
"Absorbing and intelligent.... Fans of superior historical mystery writers such as Steven Saylor and Laura Jo Rowland will be enthralled." (Publishers Weekly)
"With its vivid, well-defined array of characters, The Malice of Fortune captures the glorious and gritty details of Renaissance Italy in a propulsive story. Ennis has achieved a great accomplishment, historical fiction that places us right into the characters' present." (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Technologists)
I tried to like this book, it had a great concept and it's a genre that I like. The story was fine but I just couldn't tolerate the narration by the Italian woman reader. Because her accent was so strong you had to concentrate all the time just to get the words she was saying. Plus she had zero animation in her voice, maybe because it wasn't her native language. If had gotten to the later parts read by someone else I might have liked the book more. As it was, I just couldn't stand it and quit in the first segment. Absolutely don't buy this one.
Carlotta Montanari ruined the book for me. She destroyed the English language. It seemed clear she is not used to reading English and didn't always, if ever, understand what she was reading. I just couldn't understand her and had to stop listening. She is one of the worst readers I have heard so far.
I came to care about the characters and the underlying mystery once my ear adjusted to the accents!
Can't think of any I would compare it with-maybe The Name of the Rose?
Although the idea of using Italian readers to provide atmosphere is laudable, the accents (especially of the female reader) were so thick that it took some time to adjust. The male reader used some really odd voices to differentiate characters-DaVinci was particularly odd and funny.
The story itself is quite interesting and the atmosphere of Renaissance Italy is exciting once you get past the accents.
This is a partial review, commenting only on the performance. I hope to be able to find and read a print copy of the book so I can comment on the story as well. The reviews of the story intrigued me, and it sounds as if it could be a good historical fiction thriller.
But at the moment, I am so put off by the female narrator that I don't think I can continue listening. WHO HIRED THIS WOMAN? She is clearly not a native speaker of the English language; perhaps she is Italian. She almost swallows Italian phrases and proper nouns (as I am guilty of doing with my own name when I introduce myself...because it's so familiar).
The majority of the text she reads is English, but her incredibly poor pronunciation makes me miss about 1 word in every 5. And since I'm listening on my iPod, I can't back up just a few seconds, I have to jump back to the beginning of a chapter. So I just let her go on and on, wondering if I am getting enough details to follow the story. Even the words I do understand are mangled. For example, the word "purchase" comes out "poor CHASE" with a long A.
Occasionally I hear a sentence that makes me smile in pleasure at the clever writing, the unexpected phrase that communicates beautifully and adds a bit of humor or insight. That's why I want to read the book in print, now. It just isn't worth it to struggle through this abysmal narration any more.
The Carlotta Montanari portion of the narration has such a heavy pseudo-Italian accent that I can barely understand it. The story may be interesting, but it is just to hard to concentrate ALL the time to get the meaning of the words. Why not just read it in unaccented English?
This technique of using the accent of the language that the character would be using at the time makes no sense, because the person is speaking English, which they would not because they would speak their own language. But, they are speaking not their own language, but English, which they do not speak, so why ACCENT it at all.
It is used often when the characters are not English, but they would NOT be speaking English, so why accent it at all. Makes no sense to me.
I can't judge the story since I could not tolerate listening since the Italian woman was going to be narrating all the way through to at least Chapter 6. Had to give up.
I was really looking forward to this book--and was really disappointed! The narrator sounds like she's a non-English speaker reading phonectically. No emotion, no excitement. Sounds like she's reading a grocery list.
I still wanted to try to get through the story, but just couldn't get through the lackluster performance of that female narrator.
The female non-Englsh speaking illiterate narrator destroys this possibly interesting book. What a disaster! Who on Earth chose this woman to read in a language she does not understand? "The nobbles........" I think was supposed to be "nobles." I could not coninue. " The nobbles....." " the nobbles....." Argh. Shame. A total waste of a credit.
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