Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance

by Sara Poole
3.8 81

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Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole

In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness.

Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul.

Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father's killer from the depths of Rome's Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429953313
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/03/2010
Series: Poisoner Mysteries , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 351,707
File size: 375 KB

About the Author

SARA POOLE lives in Connecticut, where her discovery of the abundance of deadly flora growing just beyond her doorstep prompted her interest in the poisoner's art.

Sara Poole lives in Connecticut, where her discovery of the abundance of deadly flora growing just beyond her doorstep prompted her interest in the poisoner’s art. Her novels include Poison, The Borgia Betrayal and The Borgia Mistress.

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Poison 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Tiger_Holland More than 1 year ago
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.
miss_dobie More than 1 year ago
A nice book if you would like light reading about the Borgias. For a more serious historical fiction read that is more thrilling, more captivating, a real page-turner, there are books by other authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say this book did not live up to expectations for me. There were a lot of details in this book....a lot. Unfortunately the details were less about the characters and more drawn out on sceneries and events. As a result I never came to know or even care for any of the characters. I feel like this book had a ton of potential. I finished it with relief that it was over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in about three hours. I absolutely loved it! It's a little much at first, but once you get everything sorted out in your head it flows very well. The plot was ingenius and kept me guessing most of the time! Very, very good read. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.
Maria Donahue More than 1 year ago
Great historical read!!!! A real page turner, I truly enjoyed this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sara Poole does a great job of taking history and weaving a fictional tale through it. It makes the book so interesting and believable that I couldn't put it down. I am so excited to read a sequel from her! The way she offers details about the time and place transports you there. It reminds me of something by Anne Rice - my favorite author. The start of the book seems a little overwhelming, but keep reading and everything will fall in to place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leave out the sex and cussing and then it would be five stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was good, but it did drag a bit in some points.
AlwaysReadingDC More than 1 year ago
I'm always on the lookout for a good historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. I picked it up because it was about fictional employee of Cardinal Borgia, but am now starting the second book after becoming fascinated with the poisoner herself. I found this book to be a great read.
jordie32 More than 1 year ago
Great historical mystery
pagese More than 1 year ago
If your looking for something fast paces this isn't it. In fact, it took me awhile to get into the story. But gradually the characters grew on me. I found it very interesting that so many are actual figures in history and how much of their lives revolved around poisons. So, it's only appropriate that the story be about the fictional poisoner. I enjoyed Francesca's voice. She questions her actions, but always continues on with what she thinks is right. I liked her relationships with the characters around her. People are both afraid and in awe of her and it shows in how the behave towards her. She's got an end goal, and I don't think she cares how she gets there. I do get the feeling the some of the "real" characters are played off as being a little bit less diabolical than they might have been in real life. Cardinal Borgia is said to have been one of the most corrupt Pope's in Catholic history. I did not get that impression from this story. The story is slow to build. It has to lay out all the details first. I felt it did a good job of portraying Rome in the late 1400's. It was also interesting reading about the Catholic church and how it may have functioned in a different era. It's also an era I'm sure the church would like to forget. The inclusion of the Jewish people and some of their strife's during this time make the story very real. Some of the events may be fiction, but it seems like this could have happened. Overall, I liked it quite a bit more than I thought I would. The ending leaves an opening for a sequel and I would love to see more of the Borgia family and of Francesca.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1492, Giordano is murdered on the streets of Rome. His daughter wants to know why and who, but no one not even his employer seems interested. To obtain the knowledge she seeks, Francesca knows she must replace her late father as the chief poisoner of Rodrigo Borgia. The only way to prove her capable of performing the position is to poison someone of importance; she kills her target and is hired by Borgia s his personal poisoner. When Pope Innocent II dies, her assignment becomes clear. She must murder any rival of Rodrigo who along with his family plans to see him become the next Pope. However, her efforts prove so successful that those who killed her father come after her. This is a fascinating early Renaissance era thriller starring a fabulous lead protagonist who brings to life the political intrigue of the times. Although the story line can turn slow as Sara Poole provides a powerful look at the Borgia dynasty through the female poisoner, fans will relish this strong historical as murder and mayhem mix in late fifteenth century Rome and Vatican City as competitors to replace the late Pope Innocent II kill off opponents. Harriet Klausner
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The novel started slow for me, but further in it became captivating and hard to put down. It's gritty honesty made you feel as if you really there, witnessing the good and bad alike. More description with Francesca and an immediately enjoyable start would warrant 5 stars.
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I enjoyed the trip back in time! It was a page turner for me. It could have used more depth but overall I would recommend it.
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