Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: Master of Verona by David Blixt


Romeo & Juliet is the greatest love story ever told. And every story has a beginning.

A sweeping novel of Renaissance Italy, THE MASTER OF VERONA follows Pietro Alaghieri, eldest son of the poet Dante, as he’s caught up by the charisma and genius of Verona’s ruler, Cangrande della Scala. Pietro risks battles, duels, and murder to impress his new lord. At the heart of the story is an infernal plot against Cangrande’s bastard heir, and the rivalry of two friends over the affections of a girl. That rivalry will sever a friendship, divide a city, and initiate a feud that will someday produce the star-cross’d lovers.

Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, THE MASTER OF VERONA is a novel of brutal warfare, lost friendship, and dire conspiracy, combining to create a heart-stoppingly epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell and Dorothy Dunnett. 

April 23, 2012 | Sordelet Ink | 592p

My Review

4.5 Stars

The Master of Verona, the first novel in David's Blixt's Star Cross'd trilogy, is an epic work of  historical fiction set at the outset of the Italian Renaissance.  At the centre of the novel is Pietro Alaghieri, son of the renowned poet Dante, a young man whose courage and steadfastness in battle bring him to the attention of Verona's much vaunted ruler, Cangrande della Scala.  Trusted by both Cangrande and Cangrande's sister, Katerina, Pietro finds himself drawn deep into the political intrigues of his leader, including efforts to discover the mastermind behind a ruthless plot to kidnap Cangrande's infant heir.  Pietro also finds himself caught in the increasing enmity developing between his two closest friends, a once inseparable pair who have fallen in love with the same woman.  What follows is the start of a feud that will threaten the stability of Verona itself and will lead to the development of one of the greatest love stories of all-time.  

This novel has many strengths, not the least of which are well-developed characters, an engaging storyline and rich detail that brings Northern Italy and its often warring City-States vividly to life.  The novel's hero, Pietro, is easy to root for, as is his father Dante, whose genius with words is clearly evident.  Cangrande, one of Renaissance Italy's greatest rulers, is characterized as a formidable warrior and brilliant strategist, making it easy to understand how he earns Pietro's respect and loyalty.  Although billed as a novel about the origins of the Romeo & Juliet story, this aspect of the plot is in fact secondary to that of the much larger machinations of Cangrande's Verona.  As a result, the foundation of the feud between the Montecchio's and the Capulletto's (aka the Montague's and the Capulet's) is successfully placed into the much larger political context of the era. 

David Blixt's writing style is such that the book's numerous characters, their exploits and their often complicated and intertwined relationships can be followed with ease.  In this respect, Blixt's writing is reminiscent of historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman's, and I encourage any fan of Penman's epic novels to give this book a try.  Furthermore, Blixt's prose is of such quality that, despite being close to 600 pages long, the novel unfolds swiftly.   The Master of Verona is followed by Voice of the Falconer and Fortune's Fool, both of which I am now eager to read. 

Highly recommended to all fans of historical fiction.

Note: A copy of this novel was provided to me by David Blixt as part of his 5-book virtual book tour.


I'm pleased to host an international giveaway for an e-copy of one of the five novels David Blixt is currently on blog tour for:

(1) The Master of Verona;
(2) Voice of the Falconer:
(3) Fortune's Fool;
(4) Colossus; or 
(5) Her Majesty's Will.

Details for each of these books, as well as details about the tour itself, can be found by clicking here (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)    

Giveaway details

- This e-book giveaway (mobi or epub file) is open internationally;
- To enter simply leave a comment below with your email address.  While you are not required to follow this blog to enter, new followers are always appreciated;
- The contest will run until midnight on 21 December, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter; and
- The winner will be selected using random. org and notified by me via email.  

Good luck! 

About the Author:

Author and playwright David Blixt's work is consistently described as "intricate," "taut," and "breathtaking." A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS'D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE'S FOOL) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY'S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, "Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it."

Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as "actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order."

You can visit David's website here: