Revenge of the Rose
By: Nicole Galland
Impoverished young knight Willem of Dole believed he would spend his life in rural Burgundy, struggling to provide for his widowed mother and younger sister, Lienor. And so it’s with surprise–and apprehension–that he obeys a summons to the magnificent court of Konrad, Holy Roman Emperor, whose realm spans half of Europe. Willem’s mischievous friend Jouglet, Konrad’s favorite minstrel, is no doubt behind it somehow . . . but what’s in it for Jouglet?
Court life is overwhelming to the idealistic young Willem, who is shocked by the behavior of his fellow knights, for whom chivalry is a mere game. Yet under Jouglet’s witty, relentless tutelage, the naive knight quickly rises in Emperor Konrad’s esteem–until suddenly his sister, Lienor, becomes a prospect for the role of Empress. This unexpected elevation of the sibling “nobodies” delights Jouglet, but threatens three powerful–and dangerous–men who hold influential positions at the royal court fueled by gossip, secrets, treachery and lies.
Hehe, I honestly picked this book up on a whim; I recognised the author from another book that I added on my never-ending want-to-read list (The Fool’s Tale). The book piqued my interest because the novel is set during the period of the Holy Roman Empire, one of those subjects you don’t often read about unless you’re really studying the period. It also combines the trend of courtly love/notions of chivalry with the politiking of the time, themes that also fascinated me.
By: Simon Tolkien
A complex mystery of deception and betrayal that follows the court case of a young man set to hang for the murder of his father When a famed Oxford historian is found dead in his study one night, all evidence points to his son, Stephen. About to be disinherited from the family fortune, Stephen returns to home after a long estrangement—and it happens to be the night his father is shot to death. When his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, Stephen’s guilt seems undeniable. But there were five other people in the manor house at the time, and as their stories slowly emerge—along with the revelation that the deceased man was involved in a deadly hunt for a priceless relic in Northern France at the end of World War II—the race is on to save Stephen from a death sentence.
Everyone has a motive, and no one is telling the truth.
Unwilling to sit by and watch the biased judge condemn Stephen to death, an ageing police inspector decides to travel from England to France to find out what really happened in that small French village in 1945—and what artifact could be so valuable it would be worth killing for.
To be honest, the first thing that caught my attention with this book was that it was written by the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s pretty cool that he also became an author, albeit of the mystery/suspense genre. The premise of the novel also intrigued me so it went on my want-to-read list; it was only recently that I finally got a hold of a copy to read. Contains some spoilers!
Rise of Empire
By: Michael J. Sullivan
A PUPPET IS CROWNED. THE TRUE HEIR REMAINS HIDDEN. A ROGUE’S SECRET COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING.
War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists whom are fighting the Imperialists in the south. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce’s suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own grab for power. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian’s past–what he discovers may end their friendship and break Riyria in two.
Rise of Empires is the second installment of the Riyria Revelations (you can find my review of the first installment, Theft of Swords over here), containing the two stories Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm and furthering the adventures of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater. And it was quite a journey they were in for this novel! Contains some spoilers!
The Gentle Axe
By: R.N. Morris
Just before Christmas, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1866, police investigator Porfiry Petrovich faces his most challenging murder case since the events made famous by F. Dostoevsky in the novel Crime and Punishment-a case with disturbing parallels and even darker implications
Stumbling through Petvosky Park one cold morning in search of firewood, an elderly woman makes a horrifying discovery. A burly peasant twirls in the wind, hanging from a bowed tree by a rope about his neck, a bloody axe tucked into his belt. Nearby, packed neatly into a suitcase, is the body of a dwarf, a deep axe wound splitting his skull in two.
It does not take long for the noted police investigator Porfiry Petrovich, still drained from his work on the case involving the deranged student Raskolnikov, to suspect that the truth of the matter is more complex than the crime scene might suggest. Why do so many roads lead to the same house of prostitution and the same ring of pornographers? Why do so many powerful interests seem intent on blocking his efforts? His investigation leads him from the squalid tenements, brothels, and drinking dens of the city’s Haymarket district to an altogether more genteel stratum of society. As he gets deeper and deeper in, and the connections between the two spheres begin to multiply, both his anger and his terror mount.
I’ve read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment years ago but the details are quite hazy to me now beyond the basic plot points (a sign that I need to re-read the novel sometime soon ^_~). I came across R.N. Morris’s works on GoodReads and thought it was interesting that he chose to write a mystery series featuring a character from Crime and Punishment. The Gentle Axe is the first novel in this series featuring Porfiry Petrovich and set in St. Petersburg.
The Rossetti Letter
By: Christi Phillips
Claire Donovan always dreamed of visiting Venice, though not as a chaperone for a surly teenager. But she can’t pass up this chance to complete her Ph.D. thesis on Alessandra Rossetti, a mysterious courtesan who wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council warning of a Spanish plot to overthrow the Venetian Republic in 1618. Claire views Alessandra as a heroine and harbors a secret hope that her findings will elevate Alessandra to a more prominent place in history. But an arrogant Cambridge professor is set to present a paper at a prestigious Venetian university denouncing Alessandra as a co-conspirator — a move that could destroy Claire’s paper and career.
As Claire races to locate the documents that will reveal the courtesan’s true motives, Alessandra’s story comes to life with all the sensuality, political treachery, and violence of seventeenth-century Venice. Claire also falls under the city’s spell. She is courted by a handsome Italian, matches wits with her academic adversary, bonds with her troubled young charge, and, amid the boundless beauty of Venice, recaptures the joy of living every moment….
I forgot how I came across this novel but it had been sitting on my want-to-read list for so long at GoodReads that I finally decided to pick it up a few months ago xD I’ve chosen this novel for the I Love Italy Reading Challenge that I am participating in. Contains some spoilers ahead!