Thursday, 13 September 2012

Armchair Novel Review: The Malice of Fortune

The Malice of Fortune
by Michael Ennis

Hardcover, 416 pages

It's not that often that I choose historical fiction to read. But this book offered such intrigue, and such a tantalizing cast of characters that I could not resist.

In war-torn Renaissance Italy, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) rules. Of his seven illegitimate children, his favourite, Juan, is killed en route to his lover's home. The corrupt pope suspects his son's cortigiana onesta, Damiata, was complicit in the assassination. Holding her beloved son hostage in the Borgia compound, he dispatches her to Imola- ostensibly to gather information.

In Imola Damiata finds herself embroiled in intrigue and danger in a cloak and dagger pursuit of a Jack the Ripper-like killer, all while trying to save her own life and get to the bottom of her lover's murder.

Aiding her are none other than Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. Together they form a forensic-style investigation into the killings as they try to piece together the larger puzzle.

A fascinating work of fiction that is based on actual historical events. It will change the way you look at historical fiction!

MICHAEL ENNIS taught art history at the University of Texas, developed museum programs as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and works as an independent curator and consultant. He has won several awards for art criticism, and written for such magazines as Esquire and Architectural Digest, on topics as diverse as business, national defense, and politics. But when people ask him what he does, he only claims to be a writer of historical fiction. His first historical novel, Byzantium, was the true story of a Viking prince exiled to the court of the Byzantine Emperor; his second, The Duchess of Milan, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, History Book Club featured selection, had a six-figure mass market sale, and was a bestseller in Italy, where it is still selling. Michael lives in Dallas with his wife, Ellen, a television producer, and their Australian Shepherd, Zoë.