Customer Reviews for

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Breathtaking, suspenseful, can't wait for the next book!

Rome, 1492. Francesca Giordano needs to avenge her father's murder, but to do so, she must first gain power by employing the skills she's learned from her father and taking his place as Cardinal Roderigo Borgia's master poisoner. But her father's death isn't a simple ma...
Rome, 1492. Francesca Giordano needs to avenge her father's murder, but to do so, she must first gain power by employing the skills she's learned from her father and taking his place as Cardinal Roderigo Borgia's master poisoner. But her father's death isn't a simple matter to avenge--as she explores the circumstances of his death, she learns that he was involved in an empire-changing plot, and she is expected to follow in his footsteps and carry out an unthinkable assassination.

Francesca is amazing. At first, I thought she would be unsympathetic, since her first act in chapter one is to poison Borgia's current poisoner in order to take his position. But while Francesca does plenty of unsavory things, she still retains a heart capable of loving and a moral compass that pushes her to protect the innocent. In her own words, she lives in ugly times: "We live in the age of poison, of one kind or another. Every great house employs someone like myself for protection or, when necessary, to make an example of an enemy. It is the way of things" (pg 11), and she does her best, considering all the scheming, backstabbing, and upheaval of the society around her. Francesca is also a woman performing what is traditionally a man's job, so she has more than the usual amount of opposition to her work--while a male poisoner is honored as a professional, a woman is looked on with disgust and labeled a witch. Most of her work has nothing to do with killing, but rather with preventing the death of her patron Borgia, who must be protected from poisoned food, poisoned cloth, etc. She has to be intelligent enough to out-think anyone who would make an attempt on Il Cardinale's life, and she's highly adept. Plus, she's not a lone wolf and is circumspect enough to gain allies in the Borgia house, among them the captain of the guard and the chief steward, though her friendship with the bubbly 12-year-old Lucrezia Borgia isn't a calculated move--they're genuinely fond of each other. The only problems I have with Francesca's POV are the times she explains to the reader her reasons are for doing certain things. I could have done without the extra editorializing because her motives always eventually become clear, but aside from that, her narrative style is classy and compulsively readable.

I took my time reading Poison, which is unusual for me. I like to read quickly, but here I found a book worth savoring, something intelligent and suspenseful, with an encouraging undertone. The cruel side of life shown in the despicable actions of the Italian clergy is balanced by Francesca's desire to do the morally right thing for the greatest number of people, despite her dark internal leanings. One last praise I have to offer is that the novel is strongly pro-Semitic, which I very much appreciated--the scenes set in the Jewish Quarter were heartbreaking, and the possibility of genocide against the Jewish people of Renaissance Europe was introduced with all the horror appropriate to such an act.

I was simply delighted when I discovered that there will be more Francesca novels. I think I'll be seeking out more historical fiction in the meantime, to fill the void until Sara Poole's next book comes out.

posted by Tiger_Holland on October 24, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

I totally agree. I wouldve given it five stars.....

Leave out the sex and cussing and then it would be five stars

posted by Scoll98 on January 22, 2012

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