Publication Date: 1st March 2012
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Synopsis: The King’s Agent is based loosely on the life of Battista della Palla-a patriotic plunderer, a religious rogue-of the 16th century, a lifelong friend to the great Michelangelo.
As the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, Lady Aurelia is a woman with a profound duty, and a longing for adventure. In search of a relic intended for the King of France, Battista and Aurelia cross the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art, political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante's Divine Comedy. It is an adventurous quest with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.
I'm probably not in the majority when I say I found the first half of The King's Agent hard going. Not a story to be read in fits and starts, it's one that benefits from a large chunk of reading time being devoted to the experience.
Battista & Aurelia are characters you cannot help but love. Battista della Palla is a historical figure, (one I wasn't familiar with) commissioned to gather art treasures for Francois I of France. Battista is strong, selfless and fiercely loyal, quite the lovable rogue. A man who inspires loyalty in others and his band of men are a treat to read of. A veil of mystery surrounds Aurelia, it's clear she has untold secrets, it's clear that something's amiss but I couldn't put my finger on what that something was.
The fate of Florence rests with Battista & Aurelia's quest to find an ancient relic, their dangerous journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise echoes Dante's Divine Comedy but reminded me of a 16th century Indiana Jones adventure. While I'm not completely ignorant of Dante's allegorical journey, I can't say I'm well versed in Italian literature so I did feel a little out of my depth.
The King's Agent is rich in detail; food, wine, architecture, art. Ms Morin's flamboyant descriptions, research and attention to detail give a wonderful sense of time and place. So, whilst I had difficulty getting into The King's Agent, I loved being immersed in the culture of Renaissance Italy and I adored the guided tour of Rome and time spent with Battista's good friend, Michelangelo ... yep THE Michelangelo.
Not an easy read for me but enjoyable nonetheless and I applaud Ms Morin's creativity combining history and fantasy.
Donna Russo Morin's website
Tour Schedule: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
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