Thursday, February 17, 2011
BOOK REVIEW: The Fallen Blade
Author: Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Release Date: February 2011
A new voice and a new angle on the fantasy genre.
Venice in the early 15th century is at the height of its power. In theory Duke Marco commands. But Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They command the seas, tax the colonies, and, like those in power before them, fear assassins better than their own...
On the night their world changes, Marco's fifteen-year-old cousin is praying for deliverance from a forced marriage. It is her bad fortune to be alone in the chapel when Mamluk pirates break in to steal a chalice, but it is the Mamluks' good luck - a Millioni princess is a much greater prize. In the gardens behind the chapel, Atilo, the Duke's chief assassin, dispatches his latest victim. Having cut the man's throat, he hears a noise and turns back.
He finds a boy crouched over the dying man, drinking from the wound. The speed with which the boy dodges a thrown dagger and scales a wall stuns Atilo. And the assassin knows he has to find the boy. Not to kill him, but because he's finally found what he thought he would never find. Someone fit to be his apprentice...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jon Courtenay Grimwood studied at Kingston College and has worked as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers including the GUARDIAN. He has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award twice and the BSFA Award for Best Novel seven times, winning twice. He lives in Winchester with his wife, novelist and editor of RED magazine, Sam Baker.
The Fallen Blade is not just another book in the ever-popular vampire genre. It is set in historical Venice and mixes up actual history with vampire lore, creating a very believable and exciting world.
Set in the 15th century, we find Venice ruled by decendants of Marco Polo and also inhabited by vampires, werewolves, magicians and a dark and seedy underworld of assassins and gangs.
Atilo Il Mauros is head of an organisation known as Assassini, the secret service of Venice’s ruling family. Through searching for one of the kidnapped royals, Atilo encounters a young man, Tycho with unnatural abilities. Each character is developed slowly over the course of the book with many questions left unanswered at the end, wetting the reader’s appetite for more in the second book.
The intrigue of the 15th century society combined with the supernatural creatures makes this one wild ride from front cover to back cover. Fallen Blade reads like a historical fiction novel and readers would be forgiven for not knowing where the lines of reality have been blurred and what is true. This book sets up the series quite well and I can’t wait for the next instalment.