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The Serpent and the Pearl

Borgias, Book 1
Series: The Borgias, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (346 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Rome, 1492: The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous - or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web....

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope - and passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.

©2013 Kate Quinn (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Narrator for Giulia sounds like she needs a nap

Any additional comments?

I think the story content is fascinating, and 2/3 of the narrators are wonderful. However, the narrator for Giulia seriously sounded like Ben Stein running on 2 hours of sleep. I'm gathering she's not a native English speaker, but the prosody was horrible. She'd pause mid sentence and it would be confusing as to the emotional content of the message. I tried listening for 2 days then couldn't do it anymore. Guess I'll read this on my Kindle!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • CB
  • 12-14-13

This was a pleasant surprise!

What made the experience of listening to The Serpent and the Pearl the most enjoyable?

I often struggle with buying audiobooks from first time writers, because I've been burned way too often. Thus, I bought this book with really low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

I think the best part of it was the choice to have multiple narrators. I found it exceptionally wonderful to listen to these three narrate this story, and what's more, it really complements the way author wrote each character both as they see themselves, and as others see them. That's a clumsy way to describe it, but when you hear it, it will make perfect sense.

What did you like best about this story?

I don't read historical fiction so that I can learn about history, but I really do enjoy being able to get a sense of a place and time other than my own here and now. This book does a wonderful job of taking you then and there, and shows you what life is like from more than one point of view.

Any additional comments?

Worth a credit, worth a listen, and looking forward to book 2!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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VERY INTERESTING TAKE ON THE BORGIAS

I've read a lot of books on the Borgias, both fact and fiction, and watched all the recent cable movies about them. This book is great point of view on the Borgias, told by Guilia Farnese, the teenaged married mistress of the Borgia patriarch, 60 year-old, Rodrigo, later Pope Alexander VI; a cunning intelligent dwarf who is portrayed as a very sexy little person like Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Dinklage in "Game of Thrones"; and a female chef who is on the run from a major crime in Venice. The cool thing is that each character is read by a different narrator. There's nothing more disconcerting than a male narrator trying to sound like a teenaged girl or a female narrator making "courtly love" in a quasi-bass voice. The dialogue is clever and interesting. Well worth the price of admission!

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Good Story & Performance

Any additional comments?

I am currently listening to this audiobook and am really enjoying it. I've been a big fan of the Studio Canal & Showtime productions of the Borgias and am enjoying the alternate POVs from non-Borgia characters.
I was disappointed that there weren't any more Kate Quinn books available on Audible yet. I hope they plan to release more of her novels in Audible format.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Half a book

I listened to all of Kate Quinn's The Serpent and the Pearl and I'd have liked to have found out how it ended. Yes, yes, I listened to the entire thing, but the story just stops with the heroes in grave danger and no resolution to any of the stories I've been following for sixteen hours.While it is true that the title includes a "Book 1" after a very strategic colon, I took that to mean the first one in a series - not act one of a story.

I might listen to the next one if I can't find anything good (want to bet it won't resolve anything either?) but I feel a little ripped off.

Besides the non-ending, this is a historic melodrama with characters and dialogue that are alright, but in no way memorable. The writer has an annoying tendency to harp on specific characterizations over and over again: Julia has long hair, the dwarf character is short and the cook is thin. Alright to pass the idle hour, but don't get your hopes up that you'll find out how it ends without spending more credits. Bah.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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ehhh

Very slow start almost turned me away. It did get interesting and then the author must have gotten bored and just ended it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nothing Happened til the end

I dont understand the great reviews of this book. it was pleasant enough and the narration from three different narrators and description of the food kept me listening but actually nothing much happens in this book til the end and then they leave you hanging. It wasnt awful as I did finish but not great. Certainly not a best seller. Read The Alice Network by this author a far superior book. couldn't put that one down. As some other reviews have stated the narration of Julia ( not spelled that way) was not a problem for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not Alice Network

If you are looking for another “Alice Network” this is not it. It was okay but I would not go out of my way to recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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ME-LO-DRAMA

Am into the book enough to realize I have to trade off with other books. It could be a great
listen but for the constant - and I mean constant - literally non-stop drama. I think, but am not certain, that the narrator might have spoken less emotionally more of the time to lessen
this affect.

The content itself is interesting and informative about those who went to Iraq to fight.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not boring, just too slow.

If you are looking for a book to just pass the time and not interested in action and suspense, this book is right for you. It just did not go forward as I expected. I liked the fact that there were different voices for each principal character. Having said that, still not my cup of tea.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • v.jeffs
  • 08-13-13

compelling

I have just finished listening to this book and loved it. The characters of the dwarf and the female cook have been described so well you feel as though you know them personally.
I cannot wait until the next book comes out........but I will have to.
Even though I knew a lot about the Borgias this shows them from a different angle.......the lives of those in his household and how they see the Pope, his children and most importantly his mistress!
This is a compelling book and will not disappoint!!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Able Marle Devon
  • 02-20-14

Just beautiful!

What did you like most about The Serpent and the Pearl?

This story is just gorgeous - you close your eyes and you are back in 15th century Rome.

What did you like best about this story?

If you liked the recent TV series you will absolutely adore this book. The characters just spring to life.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

It was lovely to have the story told by 3 people - it made the book really interesting and the narrator's sounded exactly as you imagined Guilia, Carmelina and Leonello to be.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A different side to the Borgia story

Any additional comments?

If you love history you will love it, if you don't love history this book will spark your interest and you will probably end up loving history!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Adanaya
  • 06-10-18

An absolutely brilliant book

Whilst I'm still white hot with rage with whoever recorded 'The Alice Network', because the lead character is actually English, not American, rendering the book useless, this one is different. Okay, so one of the narrators is a little too precise, but the story is all there and I'm not going to give any spoilers, but it's the best novel on the infamous Borgias I have ever read. Each scent overwhelms you, each colour and texture wraps itself around you, If you're a fan on historical novels, then make this (and the sequel) your next choice. Kate's historical research is pretty good, even though she does bend time a little, but her characters are real live people and their stories draw you in like so many little tugs pulling out a great ocean liner

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 05-31-15

A good introduction to the Borgias

I really enjoyed this book, which covers an aspect of the history of this era that I have never read about before. I'm now looking forward to listening to the next book in the trilogy, which I have already downloaded!

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  • laura haszard
  • 07-02-19

Terrible narrative

I really enjoyed a previous book by K Quinn but was so disappointed by this. The narrative was very irritating especially the main character. I couldn’t listen to it. I’m returning it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-15-19

Ms Quinn writes a spellbinding historical novel

This was my second Kate Quinn novel. She has a way of weaving interesting historical facts into a captivating story. i'll be reading all of her books.