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The Shadow Of The Lion
by Mercedes Lackey
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From Publishers Weekly
The prolific Lackey (the Bardic Voices series, the Urban Faerie series, etc.) and cohorts Flint (1632) and Freer (The Forlorn) whip up a luscious bouillabaisse of politics, intrigue, love and black magic set in an "Other-worldly, New-Age Venice." Like the actual 16th-century city-state, the authors' Venice of the 1530s is a dangerous place, filled with as many illicit love affairs as murders. Garbage and occasional dead bodies float in the stinking canals. The city is also a target for would-be foreign conquerors: the Vatican, the Holy Roman Empire, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, and the small city-state of Ferrara, ruled by Enrico Dell'este, who surreptitiously watches his grandsons, Marco and Benito, the story's water-rat heroes. Around Benito, a thief, and Marco, a canal doctor, swirl a host of characters, major and minor: the men and women who ply the gondolas and rafts; the spy Caesare Aldanto, the boys' supporter; plus courtesans, whores, monks, priests, knights, shamans, undines and the demon Chernobog. Meanwhile, the winged lion of St. Mark's, symbol of Venice, is stirring, and its shadow falls on Marco as the city's future ruler. The authors' use of contemporary American vernacular "get real," "fat chance," etc. instead of pompous period speech keeps the pages turning fast, but the last-minute stampede of fantastic monsters that abruptly resolves the story's various conflicts makes for a clunky climax. In a book this fat the glossary at the end is essential.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Three writers (the others are Eric Flint and Dave Freer) collaborate on this massive concoction of alternate history, high fantasy, and historical romance set in the sixteenth-century Venice of an alternate world in which Catholicism is factionalized, the Hohenstauffens instead of the Habsburgs rule the Holy Roman Empire, magic works, and the grand duke of Lithuania is trying to use that magic against his enemy, the emperor. The central characters are half-brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, grandsons of the duke of Ferrara who are hiding from their grandfather's enemies by posing as Venetian street (or canal) urchins. In a complex web of incidents, coincidences, luck good and bad, and the mixed motives of sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, the boys' personal fates become central to Venice's survival in the face of the northern menace. Brevity isn't the soul or any other part of this book, and the appended glossary is utterly necessary. Yet rich plotting, vivid characterization, and splendid evocation of Renaissance ethics and culture should make readers turn all the pages. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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