Author: David Blixt
Publisher: Sordelet Ink
Part of a Series: Star Cross'd
Type of book: 1328-1329, friendship, marriage, wedding, couples, Italy, Verona, Venice, politics, Padua, the feud, Shakespeare, Dante, incest, teenage rebellion, stars, love
Year it was published: 2014
The explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross'd series! Verona has won its war with Padua, lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona, but the stars themselves.
For once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the many plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake Cesco out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, and will only to doom them all.
There are a whole ton of characters, and it would take me forever to go through them all, thus I will talk about a few of them such as Cesco, Cangrande, Pietro, Lia and Katerina. The author gave voice to all the characters in the book, not leaving any out, and somehow he made them all seem larger than human. The characters didn't feel constricted to the story or pages, but instead they felt as if they could be someone you know or someone you care about. Cesco is the lovable (in my opinion) rogue/rapscallion who is a genius, witty, handsome but has his own darknesses in the fact he pushes authority too far, suffers from an addiction and seems to lack a woman's love. The things he learned and went through in the book is enough to drive anyone mad, but at the same time there is nothing fake or gratuitous about the drama he suffered. Cangrande is Cesco's father who seems to have too much of his son in him. He is a bit difficult to get a hold of, but I imagine that he might have had a similar upbringing to Cesco. He isn't merciful to himself nor to his son, he bitterly laughs at everything, and he seems to be Cesco's puppeteer rather than a father. He is a pretty strange character. Pietro is Cesco's foster-father who is very devoted and loyal to Cesco at the cost of everything else. He is the reason when it comes to Cesco's antics and I also loved the fact that he had a sympathetic view of the Jews of that time. Lia is Cesco's love and a very close familial relation who seemed to have wormed into his heart and refuses to leave him. She seems to be like him a lot. Katerina is Cesco's foster-mother, a vindictive and hateful woman who cares more for prophecies than anything else. Apparently she has a fascinating history of bad deeds to her name and although I have known her for a short time, I can tell that she is an unforgettable character.
The story touches a lot on themes of free will versus fate, and faith versus reason
The story is in third person narrative mainly from Cesco's and Pietro's points of views. Other characters briefly come in and out, but they don't stay a long time, although they do leave their marks. I have to be honest that as a newcomer to the author and the story, I was confused by beginning, but as Cesco's brilliance/madness begins to come out, I got drawn into the story a lot more, and many times wished I could have read the previous three books before embarking on this one. The timing and the pitches of the story are excellent; I didn't sense anything being rushed, but I sensed that the story was taking its time in presenting the grand performance. While its an excellent stand-alone novel, I have to say that some of the plots feel as if they stretch back to the previous three books and if you aren't familiar with the characters as I was, some of the subplots make little to no sense (no sense, nonsense haha)
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Is it too soon to ask when the next book is coming out? Considering that I've finished the book today, and that I'm hungry for more of Cesco's adventures...umm I don't think so. I am really blown away by the story, the book and the writing. I'm new to the author and the series, thus the first thing that went through my mind when I saw that it was 720 pages is what I've gotten myself into. However, as I read more and more, the characters jumped off from the page and many times I wanted to be certain that I read what I thought I was reading when it came to Cesco's views and claims. I am still not sure if Cesco is mad or a genius because he is arguing heresy/atheism against the church (loved the scenes and the way he reasoned things out!) He is very unpredictable and quickly captured my heart. While Cesco is a major reason for falling in love with the book, the other reasons I loved is that it seems to be a 14th century version of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; whatever you are looking for, you'll find it in there; tragic love, comedy, daily life, friendship, mystery, sabotage, revenge, wits and wordplay and so forth. Also, I am really not a fan of Dante or Shakespeare, yet the author has really breathed life into two of these ancient authors and I'm even considering re-reading Purgatorio by Dante just to understand Cesco even more. While I didn't appreciate the conversion scene of Shalakh the Jew, I did like the fact that the author portrays some people as sympathetic to the Jews and that they balance the negative christians such as Antonio out.
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5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)