Fortune’s Fool

Written by David Blixt
Review by Helen Hollick

This was my first introduction to David Blixt’s novels – and I can see what all the fuss is about – I loved it!

I have no idea if the historical facts in the story are facts, as Italy in 1326 is well outside my knowledge level, but the plot, the writing – the story – carried me along with such gusto that, quite frankly, I couldn’t care less if the lot of it was a made-up fairy tale! But then as it reflects Shakespeare’s Verona, and the more famous Star Crossed Lovers, Romeo and Juliet, no one mentions that The Bard is not always historical fact, do they? I have a feeling, though, that the background historical details here are well researched and factually related.

Fortune’s Fool is the third in the Star Cross’d Series. I was concerned when starting it that I had not read the previous two, but I did eventually pick up the story, even though I suspected in places that some of the narrative referred to some previous well-woven plot lines. I would recommend that the initial two in the series are read first (The Master of Verona and Voice of the Falconer) because this is a series well worth starting at the beginning.

Unaware that enemies are attempting to ruin his life and take control of Verona, Pietro Alaghieri is fighting his excommunication by the Pope, who is residing in Avignon. Meanwhile in Verona, the illegitimate-born Cesco is being educated by a hard task-master, his father Cangrande della Scala, and alone, must face a series of page-turning adventures that gallop through the pages at the speed of a Grand National winner. There is a masked rapist, an assassin, political machinations, chases, fights, scandal – and romance. The well-known characters of Romeo and Juliet are there also, although they have not yet begun their tragic love story, for they are still children in this story.

This is one of the most exciting, and satisfying, reads that I have immersed myself in for a long time. Now to get the first two in the series and back-track on the masterfully written entertainment – and then eagerly await the next in the series. David Blixt is a gem of a writer.