Saturday, April 29, 2017

G807 Book Review of under the Spell of the serenissima by Michael Stolle

Name of Book: under the Spell of the serenissima

Author: Michael Stolle

ISBN: 97814942117594

Publisher: Self published

Part of a Series: The French Orphan

Type of book: 1642 or 1643, Italy, France, travel, friendship, adult, Cardinal Mazarin, ring, the templars, revenge, relationships, trapped

Year it was published: 2013


The third in the French Orphan series follows the exploits of Pierre, former penniless orphan who discovers he is heir to the de Beauvoir inheritance.

So far, Pierre has found friends in unexpected places, been surprised by love, learned the true meaning of friendship, discovered the extent of human cunning and depravity and dodged numerous attempts by his closest family member to despatch him to the next world.

In Under the Spell of the Serenissima Pierre’s search for the third Templar ring continues, but as ever, his path is not a smooth one. Pierre and Armand, along with Jean and Edoardo, are making for Venice, unaware that others too are racing towards the beautiful city, some intending to help, others with far more sinister motives.

As the various characters are drawn inexorably towards Venice, a conclusion will be played out that must decide Pierre’s fate, one way or another…


There are a lot of characters, but I will cover only a few; first of all is Pierre who is a French Marques as well as a British Duke. He is intelligent, a bit naive and is in love with Marie, although that doesn't stop him from feeling affection towards other women. Armand is Pierre's best friend who is more worldly and knowledgeable and is also a bit of a playboy. Jean is Pierre's devoted valet who is talented in fighting and also has premonitions of sorts. Francois is Armand's cousin who seems to have love/hate relationship with Armand and who is best described as sort of a dandy as a cover while in reality he is very hardworking and loyal to his mother and sisters. The villains include Henri, Pierre's villanous cousin who desires to the title of Marques and who looks like Pierre. (Many characters get the two confused) The Contessa, a beautiful, deadly and mysterious woman who seems to enjoy sucking men from their money. It's rumored quite a few men died just to be with her, and Nicolas, Henri's former/current lover who is seeking revenge against Pierre and Armand.


Don't judge a book by its cover, or in this case, don't judge people by their covers


The story is in third person narrative omniscient point of view from Pierre's, Armand's, Henry's and Nicolas's points of view. (I am pretty sure that there are few other characters involved, but I cannot recall who they might be.) In this novel, the women are portrayed a little bit better than the previous two books, but I still think the author needs to work on developing their characters/personalities. Although I understand about the double standard between men and women, that it's okay for men to have multiple lovers while women are expected to be devoted to one man, I am still uncomfortable reading that aspect of the story. The series, in my opinion, is beginning to be a bit addictive because one does become curious about the multiple roles that the characters play.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Born and educated on the Continent, Michael has spent most of his working outside the UK. ALthough an Economics graduate, Michael's first love has always been history, and he indulges hsi thrist for reading at every opportunity.

It was during yet another tedious business trip and a severe lack fo suitable reading matter that the characters of Pierre, Armand, and Henri came to mind; once they were conceived, so to speak, it was only a matter of time before they became real and took over any free time Michael had. The rest, as they say, is history. Or historical fiction, perhaps...


To me it feels that the author is getting better with each successive book of the French Orphan series, which is a good thing. Like previous books, this one contains the "lovable" cousin Henri who seems to have nine lives of sorts, and again Henry is messing with the heroes, this time when they travel to Italy for the mysterious ring. On top of Henry's machinations, the infamous Cardinal Mazarin of the Three Musketeers fame also makes an appearance in order to attempt to steal the diamond away. Along with the old favorites such as Pierre, Armand, Jean, Pierre's cousin and love interest as well as Armand's cousin, new characters such as The Contessa and Julia as well as her influential aunt also appear. Again, while the writing may be similar to the original Three Musketeers, due to possible numerous threesomes, I wouldn't recommend the book for young adults.

This is for HFVBT

4 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.)

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