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Elinor S. (Loudonville, NY)
The Borgia Betrayal
I liked the book. It appealed to my criteria for an enjoyable book: Learning something (about history), entertaining me and enjoying the way it was written. Since I had not read Ms. Poole's previous book on the Borgias, I'm anxious to read "The Poisoner". I would recommend it to my friends, especially those who have enjoyed Philippa Gregory's books.
Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)
The Borgia Betrayal
The Borgia Betrayal is the sequel to Poison by Sara Poole, the first book about Francesca Giordano, but readers who start the series with the second one will have no trouble picking up the story, as it really stands alone. I was surprised that a series based on a female Italian poisoner was not about Lucrezia Borgia, but although she makes several appearances in the book, she is thirteen and waiting for her wedding, that may or may not actually take place. Francesca is the personal poisoner and protector of the Borgias, Lucrezia, Cesare (her lover) and Pope Alexander VI and is trying to protect them and, at the same time, kill her father’s murder, a mysterious priest who is the enemy of the Borgia pope and supporter of the fanatic Savonarola. Amid poisoning attempts and obscene graffiti, underground tunnels and an army of thieves, Francesca must always be one step ahead of those who threaten the Borgias. Although the papal and international politics of the time form the background of the plot, readers unfamiliar with them will not be disadvantaged as enough information is scattered in the chapters to make it clear what’s happening outside of Rome. No big paragraphs of history, just enough conversation to guide readers in the complex politics of the time. The hot, humid atmosphere of Rome in the summer makes you want to turn up the air conditioner full blast—or at least get a cold lemonade. Although taking place in a small part of the city, I felt that I knew it when the book was done and could have greeted the glassmaker and Captain of the guard by name. Sara Poole writes well, the story is well paced and I really got a sense of Francesca and her friends. Although the repeated references to Francesca’s “darkness” and “the beast inside” make me wonder if this was going to be one of the trendy vampire mashups, it wasn’t (thankfully) and even Francesca’s psychological issues were well integrated into the story. Now I need to read the first book and find out what started Francesca on her dark road. The conversation with the author at the end of the book indicates that Poole has several more volumes planned in Francesca’s story, so more to look forward to. Thanks to BookBrowse for sending me The Borgia Betrayal, and introducing me to this fascinating woman and her times,
Michele J. (Port Orchard, WA)
Historical Fiction "Beach Read"
I wasn't aware that this book is the second of a proposed trilogy, although I had no difficulty understanding what happened in the plot of the first book....the author does a fine job of "catching you up" to her current plot.
Judy B. (Santa Fe,, NM)
The Pope's Poisioner
This is a historical fiction thriller-type book with a strong female lead character who is, of course, a poisoner in the employ of the infamous Borgia pope, Alexander VI. There's plenty of intrigue and action here in the late 15th Century Rome and I'm fairly certain the book will interest those who have been following the new Borgia series on television.
I call this a historical fiction "beach read" to differentiate it from serious, in-depth historical fiction. This novel is easy to follow and is more of a thriller simply set in a historical period. Don't expect a lot of detailed, accurate history. In other words: it all depends upon your taste in historical fiction. Some readers, myself included, prefer our historical fiction to be heavy on the historical side. Other readers enjoy less detail and more action....and The Borgia Betrayal falls into this latter category.
The continuation of Sara Poole's character, Donna Francesca, the Pope's Poisoner, is an action-packed novel with handsome knights, ordinary citizens of 15th century Rome, smugglers of the world below that city, a priest who is not very holy, and Pope Alexander VI who is conniving and cunning and wishes to barter his daughter's hand in marriage to retain his office as Pope. Donna Francesca must find the priest who wishes to kill the Pope before he does so and in so doing determine which of the pope's sons is a loyal subject. This is a very well researched "page-turner" of the highest form and you are learning history, too! Incidental to the plot are historical characters such as Christopher Columbus and their Most Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, play parts as well, making this a lush, swashbuckling, historical tale.
Julia A. (New York, NY)
Much as I wanted to dislike the heroine of "The Borgia Betrayal," since she is essentially a murderer, I could not do so. Francesca is an engaging narrator, even when she is recounting how she has poisoned or stabbed someone. As the Pope's poisoner, she is also charged with ruling on the safety of all foods and other materials that come into the Papal household, so some of her doings are good rather than evil. Even when she is being "evil," it is for the protection of the Pope and the persons she acts against are depicted as pure evil themselves. The historical research into the period (the year is 1493) is impressive. i learned a lot, in addition to being captivated by the political/religious intrigue of this era. I had difficulty putting the book down, once I got past the first 50 pages or so. A must read for those who enjoy historical fiction.
Martha L. (Warner, NH)
Another Fascinating Book by Sarah Poole
Another fascinating book. The Borgia Betrayal/b by Sara Poole was riveting. Francesca, the poisoner was busy in the house of the Pope, Alexander VI. She was working to keep the Pope and his family safe from harm. Cesare, the Pope's oldest son was back as well, as Francesca's lover. There are threats all around the Pope with people wanting to kill him for a variety of reasons, mostly political gain. Conspiracies, treason, political maneuvering, a sociopath and family are all part of this book and this was all centered around a Roman landscape in the late 1400s.
Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
The Borgia Betrayal
Excellent book! The storyline was intriguing and it drew you in right away. Even though I had not read the first book in this series, Poison, there was enough background information given so this book stands alone easily. (I did buy a copy of Poison and am reading it now.) The characters are well-drawn and all very interesting, although not all are likeable. Sara Poole has done great research into the time period both historically, especially dealing with the way Jews were treated and looked upon at that time and in the way the Roman Catholic Church tried to discourage education among the masses, and in terms of the art and architecture of the time. While resolving most of the loose ends in this book, Ms. Poole has left the door wide open for the next book in the series, which I will be eager to read. I would highly recommend this to all fans of historical fiction/suspense.
Maggie P. (Redmond, WA)
The Borgia Betrayal
The Author has a way of pulling you in to want to find out what happens next. I hadn't read the first book in this series Poison, but felt I still understood all the going-ons in the book. I found the story interesting and I would recommend it to individuals or book clubs.