Voice of the Falconer

Written by David Blixt
Review by Anne Holt

Italy, 1325. It is eight years after the setting of the first book in this series, The Master Of Verona. There is a host of characters in this intriguing saga, with real historical figures blending smoothly with the made-up ones. The plot has many twists and turns, from sexual allurement and stolen ashes, to political intrigue, treachery and family rivalry. The main outline, without giving any spoilers, is the lead character, Cesco, the bastard heir to Cangrande della Scala, the Prince of Verona, is being secretly raised by Pietro Alaghieri, who is exiled to Ravenna. With the news that Cangrande is dead, Pietro returns to Verona to ensure Cesco’s inheritance is not usurped. But Cesco has his own plans, even though staying alive is not going to be an easy option.

Based on Shakespeare’s Italian plays, the novel explores the lush and exciting period of Renaissance Italy, with the drama of Romeo and Juliet and the Master of Verona — and several hilarious scenes that are every bit as funny as one of The Bard’s comedies.

I did find it a little hard to pick up the story, but once I was a few chapters in I was hooked. Blixt writes with an exciting style, easily blending fact with fiction, so it is difficult to tell which is which, the whole point of a well-written historical novel.

My only minor irritation is that I noticed some typos and the occasional editorial error, although these did not detract from the pleasure of the story. I love the cover: it is as evocative as the title and the narrative within.