The Prince’s Doom

Written by David Blixt
Review by Jeffrey Manton

Verona has won its war with Padua, but lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona and the Church, but the stars themselves. Trying desperately to salvage what’s left of his spirit, for once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake the young man out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, one that will doom them all.” So says the description on Amazon, and The Prince’s Doom is an extraordinary portrait of life in fourteenth-century Verona.

Young firebrand Cesco is out to challenge anyone who gets in his way, despite warnings of the consequences, while his guardian sprit, Pietro, tries to divert him. There is a cast of characters which includes the Moors, English Kings and the exiled Pope, as well as the colourful court in all its glory. This is an epic — an epic tale and an epic read. Blixt writes beautifully, with colour and verve, and the research is meticulous — that shines out. There is more than a touch of Shakespearian tragedy here.

However, you might need to read the first three volumes first. This volume runs to over 700 pages. There is a prologue — really seven prologues of seven characters — and not having read the other three books in the saga, I found it hard to keep track of them all. We need a quest, a monster to slay, a Cinderella to root for, and it’s quite a struggle to work out who is who, what is important to each character, and follow the plot — there are just so many plots. But many will love this, especially readers familiar with Blixt’s style. Readers who enjoy digging in will find much in which to immerse themselves. I suggest reading the first three books first, since without knowing the characters I was uncertain of a clear protagonist to cheer for amidst so many characters. This is a good story, but not a stand alone.