The sequel to The Serpent and the Pearl continues the trials and tribulations of the three main characters, Giulia Farnese, Carmelina and Leonello, all of whom play prominent roles in the lives of the Borgia clan. Kate Quinn has delivered a masterful look at the historical timeline of Pope Alexander, the sixth of that name, and has filled in the gaps with stunning results. Edge of the seat drama coupled with exquisite glimpses of the pomp of the Vatican Court and the powerlessness of those who serve. Hardhearted cruelty, tenacious loyalty and love being found in all the wrong places are some of the highlights that await you, dear reader.
In all of the Kate Quinn books that I have read prior to this I have felt a twinge of envy for her very talented Muse and The Lion and the Rose was no different. Kudos for another well written series. 4.8 stars
What I know of this time and place has been gleaned mainly from the two made for television series’ on The Borgias (while I enjoyed both series, I liked the Jeremy Irons version more). So, I was more than curious as to how Kate Quinn would approach the subject matter while trying not to impose any of my preconceived notions on the main characters. Well, as it turns out, I was unduly concerned as the author tells this story from the viewpoints of personages on the periphery of the Borgia clan. Well maybe not periphery for one of the characters, after all, Giulia Farnese occupied Pope Alexander’s (the sixth of that name) bed as his mistress. Once again the author had me immersed in the sights and smells of the era, from the kitchens of Carmelina to the flashing knives of the dwarf bodyguard Leonello. A superbly crafted cast of characters, an attention grabbing storyline with plots and subplots enough to keep the reader guessing. The main story follows the fortune of La Bella, Giulia, from the beginning of Rodrigo Borgia’s ascent to Pope to her dealings with the invading French. The placing of Carmelina and Leonello into the narrative provides a refreshing look at this fascinating time of political and religious upheaval. Another pleasant and page turning work from a very talented scribe. 5 stars