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THE FALLEN BLADE by Jon Courtenay Grimwood Kirkus Star

THE FALLEN BLADE

By Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-07439-1
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Alternate-world fantasy from the talented and versatile author of End of the World Blues (2007), wherein Marco Polo's family founded the dynasty that rules Venice.

In the early 15th century, Venice is powerful but must play her enemies—Ottomans, Byzantines, Germans, etc.—off against one another. Alonzo, the idiot Duke Marco's uncle, rules as Regent, his authority enforced by a cadre of assassins and the mage-alchemist Hightown Crow, while Alexa, Alonzo's sister-in-law, and her witch A'rial keep Alonzo in check. Alonzo has arranged for Marco's cousin Giulietta to marry Janus, the king of Cyprus, ostensibly as an alliance against the Turks. However, Alonzo's real plan involves arranging for Giulietta to be impregnated; she has been ordered, following the birth, to poison Janus and his relatives. So when Giulietta goes missing, Alonzo spares no effort to find her. In the hold of one ship, Alonzo's guards find a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Eerily beautiful and unnaturally strong, Tycho escapes as soon as he's brought on deck. Later, Atilo il Mauros, the duke’s master of assassins, comes upon Tycho sipping blood from a murder victim. Tycho evades Atilo's men and escapes with astonishing speed. Since the assassins' ranks were recently decimated in battle with werewolves secretly led by Prince Leopold, the bastard son of the German emperor, the aging Atilo knows he must find the boy and bind him as his apprentice. Grimwood adroitly combines a satisfying complexity with visceral detail and bouts of astounding violence, knit together by suitably Machiavellian intrigue.

Pounce on this one.