So – who’s obsessed with The Borgias on Showtime©? The one where Jeremy Irons is the deviant Pope Alexander VI, father of one of the most notorious families in Italian history even though they are all Spanish? I am. And while the television show is modernized and prettied up for modern tastes, the chain of events set in motion as Rodrigo Lanzol de Borgia used his power, his family, his enemies and his papacy to amass power and riches is an interesting treat into the less ‘palatable’ history of the Catholic church.
In The Lion and the Rose, the second installment in Kate Quinn’s The Borgia Chronicles, the author brings us a story revolving around the pope’s infamous mistress Giulia Farnese. Those familiar will recognize the name as a long-standing association with the pope, married yet traded for favors by her less than loving husband, Giulia is not all sweetness and light. She is a keeper of secrets, with gentle and not so gentle manipulations to further her own position, and to make her indispensable to the pope. She, unfortunately, is discovering that her indispensability also make her a liability, and could even lead to her death.
Such a twisted and tangled plot with plenty of corruption, dubious religious morality, murder, war and danger are present in nearly every situation: as the Pope is seeking to condense his power base and rule over a rather unruly Rome. With nearly every character having at least one, if not more allegiances or grudges to fight for, the potential pitfalls to the grandiose plans for the Borgia dynasty are everywhere.
Kate Quinn manages to build characters that draw your attention and hold you in their power even as you may not appreciate their cunning and manipulation to gain their own ends. So many twists and turns, the story is laced with actual events and retelling of legends in new ways: endlessly dramatic and gripping. Although this is the first of this series that I have read, it stands alone comfortably, allowing the reader to approach these 4 years (1494 – 1498) as a point in time with relevant information to follow the story is provided neatly and without overwhelming the reader.
A lovely storytelling style highlights this curious mix on the fictional retelling of one of history’s most notorious and infamous dynasties in an era when war, money and the grasp for power and supremacy across the European continent were at their highest levels.
Title: The Lion and the Rose
Author: Kate Quinn
Genre: Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction /Historical Setting
Published by: Berkley, Penguin
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 18 Hours
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From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . .
As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.
Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . .
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.