The Fallen Blade: Act One of the Assassini [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the depths of night, customs officers board a galley in a harbor and overpower its guards. In the hold they find oil and silver, and a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Stunningly beautiful but half-starved, the boy has no name. The officers break the boy's chains to rescue him, but he escapes.

Venice is at the height of its power. Duke Marco commands the seas, taxes his colonies, and, like every duke before him, fears assassins better ...
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The Fallen Blade: Act One of the Assassini

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Overview

In the depths of night, customs officers board a galley in a harbor and overpower its guards. In the hold they find oil and silver, and a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Stunningly beautiful but half-starved, the boy has no name. The officers break the boy's chains to rescue him, but he escapes.

Venice is at the height of its power. Duke Marco commands the seas, taxes his colonies, and, like every duke before him, fears assassins better than his own. In a side chapel, Marco's thirteen-year old cousin prays for deliverance from her forced marriage. It is her bad fortune to be there when Moorish pirates break in to steal a chalice, but it is the Moors' good fortune - they kidnap her and demand ransom from the Duke.

As day dawns, Atilo, the Duke's chief assassin, prepares to kill the man who let in the pirates. Having cut the traitor's throat, he turns back, having heard a noise, and finds a stranger crouched over the dying man, drinking blood from the wound. The speed with which the boy dodges a dagger and scales a pillar stuns Atilo. And the assassin knows he has to find the boy. Not to kill him though - because he's finally found what he thought he would never find.

Someone fit to be his apprentice.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Grimwood shifts from alternate reality SF (End of the World Blues) to alternate history fantasy, exploring a Renaissance Venice in which witches, werewolves, and vampires get drawn into the inevitable court intrigues. When a raid on a Turkish ship frees a young vampire named Tycho, the vampire apprentices to Venetian assassin Atilo, ready to be employed as a weapon by the mother and uncle of Venice's impotent duke. Both politicians and supernatural entities engage in cruelty and nastiness that almost overwhelm the story; many of the scenes, such as murders of children and a forced impregnation, are not for the squeamish, but little is gratuitous. This grim tale will appeal to fans of political and historical fantasy as well as those who appreciate more traditional interpretations of vampires and werewolves. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Lady Giulietta di Millioni, the teenaged cousin of the duke of Venice, attempts to flee her enforced marriage to King Janus of Cyprus, a man rumored to be cruel and interested only in acquiring an heir. Preventing her escape is Atilo il Mauros, the Moor who has protected her since her childhood and who leads the Assassini, Venice's elite group of enforcers. Her fate, however, and the fate of the city lie in the hands of a young man who stalks the streets at night—and who is said to exist on blood. The author of "The Arabesk Trilogy" (Pashazade; Effendi; Felaheen) turns to historical fantasy in this tale of politics, love, and the supernatural. In his capable hands, 15th-century Venice springs to life, along with a varied cast of nobles, pirates, and supernatural creatures. VERDICT This well-written book should appeal to fans of both period fantasy and vampire fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316123396
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Publication date: 1/27/2011
  • Series: Assassini , #1
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 458,825
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. Apart from writing novels he works for magazines and newspapers. For five years he wrote a monthly review column for The Guardian.

JCG's novels Felaheen and End of the World Blues, won the BSFA Award for Best Novel. He has been shortlisted twice for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award, the August Derleth Award (UK), John W Campbell Memorial Award (US), among other awards.

He is married to the journalist and novelist Sam Baker, currently editor-in-chief of Red. They divide their time between London and Winchester.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a fascinating action-packed alternate historical fantasy

    In 1407, di Millioni Family descendants of Marco Pole (see End of the World Blues) rule Venice. The city-state is powerful on the Italian Peninsular but has much stronger enemies across the continent from the expanding Ottoman, Byzantine and German Empires. Political finesse is needed but the Duke of Venice Marco IV is known as "Simpleton" for an obvious reason. His Uncle Prince Alonzo rules as the Regent supported by a guild of assassins and the alchemist Dr. Hightown Crow. Marco's widowed mother Duchess Alexa abetted by her stregoi witch A'rial keeps the ambitious Regent under some restraint.

    Alonzo arranges for Marco's fifteen year old cousin Lady Giulietta to marry King Janus of Cyprus in a strategically astute move to forge an alliance against the Ottomans. However, his plan is actually much more insidious than a simple pact. Giulietta will already be pregnant carrying a di Millioni offspring when she weds Janus; after their marriage she is to kill her spouse and his relatives.

    Instead Giulietta vanishes. Alonzo dispatches his top agents to recover her. Inside the ship Quaja, guards find a chained naked teen; they free him only to watch Tycho escape using superhuman speed and strength. Later Master Assassin Atilo il Mauros observes Tycho drinking blood from someone the lad just killed. The aging Atilo knows he has found his replacement at a critical time when his team has been battered by German Prince Leopold's werewolves.

    This is a fascinating action-packed alternate historical fantasy. Even with the paranormal elements, Jon Courtenay Grimwood captures the intrigue that was so prevalent in early fifteenth century Venice especially at the top levels of leadership, which in turn makes the otherworldly segues seem genuine. With a delightful twist tying the strong subplots together, fans will appreciate this tense thriller.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    Superbe!

    Loved it loved it loved it!
    Complex characters and a fascinating spin on some classic horror favorites. Couple this with a plot that twists and turns like the canals of Venice (just as murky to boot) and you've got one hell of a story...possibly quite literally...
    A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2012

    Loved it!

    I could envision everything. Grimwood really can tell a story. You get so involved with the politics and the alliances that you forget it's fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2011

    Awesome and bloody

    When I got this book, I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Boy did it surprise me! Not for people with weak stomaches against blood and gore--that's my only warning. Other than that it's well written and captivating. I was really drawn to Tycho. In Greek, I believe it is, his name means 'one who hits the mark.' He definitely hit the mark with me, even though he's not the loveliest of people. I quote, "You said the Blade was justice in action. Where would the justice be in killing the innocent?" You gotta love him for saying something like that. He's not completely bloodythirsty and horrible. In fact, he has a protective streak for women and children. Unless he's really, really hungry--which was before Atilo found him, when he was half crazy half dying. Before he found out blood was what he hungered for....

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    Good writing, horrible plot development

    Grimwood is a good writer, and I really enjoyed the alternate world he developed, from vikings to Italians. His scenes are wonderfully written with excellent voice and detail, and he wasn't afraid to suddenly change the momentum of his characters.

    However, I ran into several issues that drew me close to setting this book down. The main one is the constant lack of a foundation in time: chapters skip ahead (and into the past) with little or no warning, and come back to characters immensely changed 'off screen'. Enemies age months from one page to another, for instance, and are suddenly in love - while the reader is still trying to figure out how they met.

    Also, while I'm a fan of grit in my fantasy, this novel takes that notion to uncomfortable depths: there's a recurring and graphic theme of young girls being raped (particularly by family and friends) and callously murdered. Including by the protagonists. While it made the characters have more depth, I suppose, it ensured that nearly none of them were in any way likable - I made it to the end out of curiosity about what would happen, not any sense of hope that someone or another would triumph.

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    Posted May 6, 2011

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