Thursday, February 26, 2015

City of God by Cecilia Holland

"Night had come. Nicholas Dawson, waiting on the stony shore of the Tiber, began to shiver in the cold. He tucked his hands into the folds of his coat and swayed a little from one foot to the other, and cast a look around him, from the river to the swampy meadow behind him, stinking of rot." 
Opening Paragraph

Synopsis:  A self-serving political player in sixteenth-century Rome is caught up in the ruthless and powerful Borgia family’s deadly intrigues of murder and betrayal

It is known as the City of God—but Rome at the dawn of the sixteenth century is an unholy place where opulence, poverty, and decadence cohabitate sinfully under the ruthless rule of Rodrigo Borgia, the debauched Pope Alexander VI. Englishman Nicholas Dawson is secretary to the ineffectual ambassador of Florence and, as such, finds himself linked to Borgias’ murderous machinations, specifically the brutal power plays of the warlord Cesare, the pope’s bastard son. A skilled liar, conspirator, spy, and manipulator—a man drawn to power and the pleasures of excess—Dawson coolly plays his part in Rome’s draconian political dramas with an eye to personal gain and no true allegiance to any side or player. But his attraction to a beautiful and very dangerous young man soon threatens to bring Dawson’s secret enterprises crashing down around him, dooming him to a brutal and ignoble fate.
The great Cecelia Holland is acclaimed as one of America’s premier creators of historical fiction. With City of God she brings a remarkable epoch and a legendary family of scoundrels and murderers to breathtaking life—the corrupt patriarch pope; the suspiciously widowed and incestuous daughter, Lucrezia; Cesare, the bloodthirsty conqueror; and the tragically imprisoned and damned Caterina Sforza. Holland has written a stunning tale of betrayal, deception, and blood.

City of Gods is a suspensful novel set in Rome during the time the Borgia family rose to power. Nicholas Dawson is an assistant to the Ambassador of Florence. He is also a bit of an introvert, and gay. Through his work he becomes entangled with the dastardly man, the Duke of Valentino and the Borgia pope, Alexander. The novel is full of political machinations, intrigue, evil, and corruption. Most of the characters have a very dark side, making this one of Cecelia Holland's darkest novels yet. Despite all the wickedness and evil intent, Nicholas is a charasimatic characters who manages to weave through the despicableness of the Borgia reign. An interesting take of this fascinating era in history.

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