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The Malice of Fortune | [Michael Ennis]

The Malice of Fortune

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

2.5 (41 )
5 star
 (4)
4 star
 (6)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (12)
Overall
3.0 (34 )
5 star
 (7)
4 star
 (7)
3 star
 (4)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (6)
Story
2.0 (36 )
5 star
 (3)
4 star
 (2)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (19)
Performance
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  •  
    Molly Gordon Suquamish, WA, USA 09-28-12
    Molly Gordon Suquamish, WA, USA 09-28-12 Member Since 2005

    Master Certified Coach

    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    143
    5
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    "Female narrator is impossible to listen to."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I have no idea. I could not get past the narration after the first hour, so I can't really comment on the story. If I could have left the Story and Overall categories unstarred, I would have.


    What was most disappointing about Michael Ennis’s story?

    Not able to comment.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

    I would have cast someone whose accent was less intrusive and who did not speak in a monotone.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Honestly, I couldn't tell.


    Any additional comments?

    I hate to be such a cranky pants, but it's very frustrating to have to miss an entire book because one of the narrators is so grating.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Las Vegas, NV, United States 09-21-12
    Jonathan Las Vegas, NV, United States 09-21-12 Member Since 2005

    Jonathan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Narration Lost Me"

    I really like the premise of the story and so wanted to listen to this book. However, I quit after five chapters. Carlotta Montanari's Italian accent was so distracting that I simply could not follow the book. Accent's are great for character dialogue, but not narration. Why the Publisher/Ennis chose this method of narration is beyond me. Be sure and listen to the sample before you purchase. I should have. I wish I could get my money/credit back on this one.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Guthrie Saint Paul, MN USA 09-20-12
    Pamela Guthrie Saint Paul, MN USA 09-20-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So Much Work"
    What did you like best about The Malice of Fortune? What did you like least?

    The story is so good, but Carlotta Montanari's reading was very challenging for me to follow, and so not very engaging.

    I love the idea of having the story read with an Italian accent, but often, an unusually accented syllable or strange vowels means that I have to try to figure out what she said, and lose the thread of what she is saying.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    It was someone difficult to follow the plot since the narrator's accent was so thick. I would rather not work so hard to understand the story.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

    The male voices worked really well. I wished the female narrator was a native English speaker, or had a softer accent. I usually follow foreign accents easily, but this one was a lot of work.


    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K 09-16-12
    K 09-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    37
    4
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    "Two Mediocre Hams Read Silly Story"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Oh, let's say a coherent story not dependent on ever-escalating scenes of gruesome violence against women, for starters. I'd sort of expected more Machiavelli -- you know, The Prince -- and less over-the-top genre murder.

    The plot is ho-hum, the characters unbelievable and shallow.


    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    Let me count the ways --

    Female was unintelligible and the male's various voices turned me off to key characters, Da Vinci, especially. What a pity.

    But peeve-above-all is this -- presumably these characters are narrating in their own languages, i.e., "Damieta" is reading from her own letter. So WHY these clownish and unintelligible Italian accents?


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom


    Any additional comments?

    I'm with Steven -- never again buy a book that hasn't yet been reviewed. Lesson learned.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Urbana, IL, United States 11-10-12
    Joan Urbana, IL, United States 11-10-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Virtually incomprehensible due to narrator"

    In more than fifteen years listening to audiobooks, this is the absolute worst performance I have yet encountered. The narrator of the first section is evidently not a native speaker of English, and her accented text is practically impossible to understand, let alone follow in any enjoyable fashion. Arrgh! There are the bones of a good story lurking, but I'll be darned if I could extract it.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dataman 09-14-12
    Dataman 09-14-12

    But it’s a Kosher frog!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Unintelligible Reader and So-So Story"

    Shame on me! I broke one of my cardinal rules and bought this book without listening to the preview. The female reader’s accent is so heavy the words are mostly unintelligible. Instead of being able to concentrate on the book, I had to focus on trying to understand what she was saying. Not being one to waste a credit, I suffered through it but by the middle of the book I just didn’t care anymore and my ears were burning and bleeding.
    The plot is average at best. I rushed to buy this book because one of the critics said it was as good as “The Name of the Rose”. It is NOT even close. As I am not a historian of 16th century politics, I must take on good faith that all events in the book are true. I must say that the only thing I got from the book was a feeling that I am glad I did not live in those times.
    Since this is a new book by a new author, I am sure there will be a rush by the “Shill Reviewers” from the Author and the publishing house to declare this book a 5-star masterpiece second only to The Bible in importance. I also expect my review to be "Not Helpful" by them (and others). To this I give them the Bronx Cheer and proudly hold up one finger to represent one star.
    If this review was helpful, please let me know. Cheers!

    29 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII 12-07-12
    HIII 12-07-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Read the other reviews BEFORE purchasing"

    What a fiasco. I am an avid audibles listener, this is the worst narration I have ever heard. When I can wade through Carlotta Montanari's reading I just feel disapointment at the flat plot-skip this one it is truly horrible.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaime Chavez Texas 10-30-12
    Jaime Chavez Texas 10-30-12 Member Since 2004

    Living life of Significance

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Can I audition to read a book??"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This is the first time I stop listening to a book because it was not a pleasant experience. I agree with some of the reviewers that Carlotta's accent is not quite the problem, but her lack of passion when reading. It feels like she's reading the classifieds section on the newspaper!. I wish the whole book was read by John Lee, then maybe the story would be actually understandable. Sorry Carlotta, don't quit your day job.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Again the long intro narrated by Damiata just kills the story. I don't like over acting on the narration but Carlotta went the opposite direction and just ended my interest.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

    John Lee. John Lee and maybe John Lee. Just kidding. You guys have so many good female narrators that I didn't even think that you had a bad one. Well, you found her!! Sorry Carlotta.


    Any additional comments?

    Enough said.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    goddess_of_pipework Roswell, GA United States 09-21-12
    goddess_of_pipework Roswell, GA United States 09-21-12 Member Since 2002

    goddess_of_plumbing

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "absorbing story, so-so narration"
    What did you love best about The Malice of Fortune?

    The relationship between the three main characters, Damiata, Macciavelli, and DaVinci, is very interesting. All three are brilliant, passionate, and driven.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    The plot was interesting, although it relied to heavily on gruesome murders to advance the story.


    What three words best describe the narrators’s voice?

    The narration was only so-so. I could have done without Adrian Paul's bogus Italian accent, and his attempts at the voices of DaVinci and Cesare Borgia. He should have either not attempted it, or the producers should have added cast members.


    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Sterling, VA, United States 10-23-12
    Mary Sterling, VA, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "For Lover's of Italian History"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially knowing that much of the story comes from the papers of the actual characters. I will say however, that to follow the plot, one must have more than a passing acquaintance with Italian history.

    As for the narration, I was less enthusiastic. I know nothing of Carlotta Montanari's background, but I found her very difficult to listen to, not because of her accent, but because it sounded as if she were reading English not completely understanding what she was reading. Adrian Paul on the other hand, did an excellent job as long as he was reading the part of Machiavelli. I hear Italian spoken everyday, as well as English spoken by Italians, and I think his accent was quite authentic. Once he switched to other characters, however, whether da Vinci or Cesare Borgia, the characterization was pretty bad and was quite distracting. The production would have been far superior had they hired a few more actors.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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