Fortune’s Fool

Fortune’s Fool (sequel to Master of Verona and Voice of the Falconer)

By: David Blixt

(http://www.davidblixt.com/)

Sordelet Inc. (April 23, 2012)

An historical fiction review

Blixt’s Star-Cross’d series has always been bursting with secrets, additional flavor for the action-filled plots.  Fortune’s Fool, however, allows secrets the place of prominence.  While plenty of incidents occur throughout this novel, the driving force behind this part of Blixt’s story is mystery.  Pietro Alighieri, Dante’s oldest son, finds his mission to the Avignon papacy opposed by a hidden foe.  Antonia Alighieri and Cangrande both face unknown malefactors.  Cesco encounters a mysterious assailant.  In the midst of grappling with religion, politics, and changing relationships, Blixt’s characters must deal with their personal puzzles and endure their separate trials.

This book differs from its predecessors in many ways.  The shift from action to mystery slows the pace, considerably where Pietro is concerned.  The overall isolation of the characters from each other for much of the story changes the personal dynamics not only for them, but for the readers.  The prior two novels highlighted a couple main characters, while this one’s focus is more spread out.  More significantly, this narrative brings a darker, more raw feel to the story.  While sex, malice, and the message that life is pain have always been a part of this story, Fortune’s Fool throws those elements front and center.  It feels like the middle of a story, where things get sticky and difficult to chew.  The discovery that Fortune’s Fool began as the middle of a longer sequel that had to be split up put this book in the frame I was comfortable with.  Blixt fleshed out this novel enough to hold my attention and build my intrigue, but it lacked that special luster I expect from finishing a Blixt book.  Knowing that there’s another installation to come in this arc explains everything.  The second part of any trilogy tends to offer more darkness and less gratification; if it holds up and builds the story then it works.  Fortune’s Fool certainly achieves that!       

This work contains many compelling pieces.  The verbal sparring remains brilliant, more side characters get a chance to shine, and we get a taste of new love.  The writing style is still excellent, if heavier.  The cast don’t get to play off each other as much, but their individual journeys keep them whole and emotionally connected to their audience.  In short, everything in this book works well.  As the second of a three-part installation, it works very well.  It would be even better if there had been something to chase that sticky, hard-to-chew, filling taste.  When you bite into that candy, you want the filling to be there, working with that sweet outer shell of chocolate.  Without that sliver of sweetness to encase it, the taste is missing an element of satisfaction.  Like a good filling, I enjoyed this book very much, but…now I want my chocolate shell.

Voice of the Falconer

Voice of the Falconer (sequel to Master of Verona)

By: David Blixt

(http://www.davidblixt.com/)

Sordelet Inc. (April 23, 2012)

An historical adventure fiction review

 

Young Cesco is the hidden heir to Verona’s master, Cangrande della Scala, the foster child of Pietro Alaghieri and the rest of Dante’s family, and a mercurial eleven-year-old.  Voice of the Falconer brings Cesco to Verona with his entourage of protectors.  Through an onslaught of plots, surprises, and lessons, Cesco must make spectacular debuts, uncover secrets about his identity, and above all: survive.  Meanwhile, Pietro’s return finds him confronting both old friends and familiar demons.  With battles, intrigues, and references galore, this sequel retains all the momentum and excitement of its predecessor.

 

In Voice of the Falconer Blixt sets up all the players of “Romeo and Juliet,” enriching their characters and continuing to make them his own.  Entwining them with other Shakespearian tales like “Merchant of Venice” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” Blixt’s cleverness will delight fans and draw the Bard new ones.  Far from staying in Shakespeare’s shadow, these references spark seamlessly alongside history, prophecy, research, and philosophy.  Never less than an adventure, each aspect of Blixt’s novels carries multiple sides: passion, poetry, humor, mystery…Voice of the Falconer twists its cast through intriguing events without ever sacrificing depth of character.  This sequel’s ability to reintroduce readers to old friends after an eight year gap is impressive, but that pales to the achievement of showing such astute shifts in relationships and individuals through the novel.  Even laboring under the knowledge of many character’s deaths, Blixt’s portrayals give these people a marvelous wholeness and reality.

 

I’ve waited five years to read this sequel.  This book is worthy of that wait.  Its only problem is that I already care so deeply for many of these characters that remembering “Romeo and Juliet” grows painful.  Luckily, there is always one more quest for my heroes to follow, one more mystery needing to be solved, one more gorgeous sentence that I have to read twice.  Above all, there is so much of the plot left that I cannot foresee and that I absolutely need to know!

 

Blixt’s historical Italy was never a place for the faint of heart and this second book brings no relief, throwing readers through a gauntlet of anticipation, suspense, and wonder.  It’s a rough environment that not everyone will enjoy-definitely not a cozy, relaxing read.  For readers who thrive on challenging, intricate works, this is a gift for you.