The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin: A Review
As the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, Lady Aurelia is a woman with a profound duty, and a longing for adventure. In search of a relic intended for the King of France, Battista and Aurelia cross the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art, political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante's Divine Comedy. It is an adventurous quest with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.
To the casual observer, Battista della Paglia is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe's burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista's search for the elusive objet d'art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own. . .
Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture-- a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart--and change the course of history. . .
The King's Agent is the first of Donna Russo Morin's books I've read but it surely won't be the last! Immediately, I was swept up in the beauty of Italy, the intrigue, the action-packed story itself made me want to keep reading. Morin has a vivacious sense of writing style that is descriptive yet engaging. I found myself laughing at times and wanting to literally hit Battista della Palla over the head with something hard and sharp! I kept saying to myself, who is this man, why does his name sound familiar? After a Google search, and my a ha moment, I ran to my bookshelf for my much dogeared copy of Vasari's Lives of the Artists! I also found myself looking through my old tour programs from my trips to Italy,especially The Vatican and Michelangelo's books as well.
Reading The King's Agent reminded me of Umberto Eco's 'The Name of the Rose' meets 'The DaVinci Code' with hints of romantic fiction thrown in! If you love Italian Renaissance art and its culture, you will enjoy The King's Agent.
Morin brilliantly weaves clues from Dante's 'The Divine Comedy' using it as a sort of treasure map for Battista, the art thief who steals a statue supposedly for the King of France. On this journey, along for the ride is the mysterious Aurelia where they meet an Italian painter named Michelangelo. I won't say how the adventure ends or what happens because you must read it for yourself!
I will definitely read more of Donna Russo Morin's novels. The only thing I will say is that if there is a downside to The King's Agent there was a bit too much detail and specifics in the action scenes. Unfortunately, this almost made me want to skip over bits but I didn't because when reading an adventure story, you do not want to miss any clues!
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