This Borgia-era novel creates fictional events utilizing factual evidence from historical characters in the manner of Philippa Gregory and Matthew Pearl. The primary players in the Borgia family of Renaissance Italy include Pope Calixtus III, his nephew Pope Alexander VI, Alexander VI's son Cesare, and daughter Lucrezia (See "Beyond the Book").
The Malice of Fortune is set during the papacy of Alexander VI. The story is narrated by Damiata, a Vatican courtesan; and Niccolo Machiavelli, who is most well-known now for his book The Prince. Damiata and Niccolo work with the other mastermind of the time, Leonardo da Vinci, to solve a series of brutal murders.
In the opening third of the novel, we hear from Damiata, mistress of the murdered Duke of Gandia (one of Alexander VI' sons). Though it is not until fairly late in the book when her personal history is revealed, Damiata's narrative...
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