The Man With Sapphire Eyes (The Ballot Boy Book 2)

Written by Larry Mellman
Review by Irene Colthurst

Niccolo “Nico” Soltana is ballot boy, or assistant, to the doge of Venice, a man he serves with devotion, as war is about to come to the Serene Republic in the early 1370s. As the novel opens, the doge sends Nico on a mission to judge how determined King Louis of Hungary is to aid the Paduans.

To help Nico, the doge sends along Donato Venturi, a Venetian swordsman and son of an African princess. From their first meeting, the bond between the two warriors is intense, and as the first battles start, they must grapple with how to balance love and duty.

Moving from the chambers of Venetian power to the forests of medieval Padua, the sequel to Mellman’s Ballot Boy shows Nico’s own body strengthening along with his skill in personal combat.  The dialogue is sharp and engrossing, the settings immersive, and the scenes tightly written, yet there is often no action to accompany the dialogue.

I enjoyed this look at the intrigues of late medieval Venice, and I feel like I know the flavor of life there after finishing this novel. Mellman is skilled at creating atmosphere. Recommended for anyone who wants to visit the most serene lagoon for themselves. Contains mildly explicit sexual content.