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Monday, March 19, 2012

Review and Tour Stop: The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin

Publisher: Kensington
Genre: historical fiction
Trade paperback, 432 pages
Book Source: Historical Fiction Book Tours

From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:

To the casual observer, Battista della Palla is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe’s burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista’s search for the elusive objet d’art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own…

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture—a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart—and chance the course of history…
Three Reasons Review:
1.)Reasons you chose this book
Historical fiction, the search for a lost treasure, and set in Italy...sold!  I also discovered the author used Dante's Divine Comedy and the video game Legend of Zelda (two of my interests) as inspiration for elements of the story, so I knew this author was for me.  Lastly, I have heard good things about Morin's
previous books and she has been on my list of authors to read.
2.)Reasons you liked or disliked this book
I loved, loved, loved this book!  So much so that I plan on re-reading it again in the future.  To me this book did not read like the usual HF.  I think HF tends to follow a familiar outline: setting is an important historical event, female is a main character, said female affects or is involved with said historical event, and also falls in love along the way.  There is nothing wrong with that.  HF is one my favorite genres to read, and maybe that is the best way to write it.  Makes sense, right?
With The King's Agent, I felt as though Aurelia and Battista were both focal points of the story.  They both shared in the historical events that were unfolding, and the adventure was as much of the story as the characters and the history were.  Speaking of which, the adventure, its reason and how Morin described and played that out was awesome!  I loved it and I held my breath at times while I read those sections.  Totally unexpected for an HF but within the confines of this story, it was perfect.  Morin uses Dante's Divine Comedy as the vehicle for the search for the lost treasure.  I've always wanted to read Dante's work, and now here's another reason to.  That's my plan: Divine Comedy and then re-read The King's Agent.  I think I will have a better appreciation and enjoy it even more. 
Back to the characters, both Aurelia and Battista were enjoyable because they were both strong, yet vulnerable; principled and believed in their respective causes.  As for Aurelia, she has an air of mystery surrounding her.  Who is she?  Why is she a ward of the Marquess and so sheltered?  What's her true nature and purpose?  Aurelia's story thread was kinda explained but remains hazy to me.  I was slightly miffed at that, but now I think that was Morin's intention.  As for Battista, he is so lovable and a joy to accompany on his adventures.  He has a great sense of duty and family, and I liked that.  All of the characters in this book were lovable, even Battista's company of friends.
The writing and detail drew me in from the start. the setting, the clothes, the moment the reader meets Battista liberating a piece of art, everything draws you in.  Morin firmly places the reader in the story alongside her characters.  I felt the flames and heat licking my skin too!  With respect to the historical details they were executed perfectly.  Nothing felt forced or intentional.  I especially liked the inclusion of Michelangelo.  Yes, the great Michelangelo.  He added another layer to the story that was rich and enjoyable.  If Morin ever decides to write another novel featuring Michelangelo, I'm there.  I liked her portrayal of him.
3.)Reasons for recommending
This story was refreshing and different.  I did not want the story to end, and I thoroughly enjoyed and lost myself in it's pages.  I highly recommend this book and I intend ti explore Morin's back list as well.  Excellent book!
My Rating: 100
For more infromation about Donna Russo Morin please visit her website.
Thanks to Historical Fiction Book Tours for including me on the tour.  Please be sure to stop back on Friday March 23rd, for a guest post by Donna.  I'm so looking forward to it.
 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"