In 1314, seventeen year old Pietro Alighieri travels to Verona with his father, the infamous poet Dante, at the invitation of its leader, the legendary Francesco “Cangrande” della Scala. A sneak attack from Padua leads Pietro into his first battle, fighting alongside the charismatic Cangrande, and into a tight friendship with Mariotto Montecchio and Antonio Capulletto. Behind the scenes, repeated attempts are made against the life of a child believed to be Cangrande’s illegitimate son and possible heir.Sometimes it happens that I really love a book, but I still don't get around to writing a review for it straight away (or at all, but we won't think about all those unwritten reviews just now!). This is one of those books.
Inspired by the plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the events of history, The Master of Verona is a compelling novel of politics, loyalty, conspiracy and star-crossed romance.
My interest was initially drawn to the idea of setting a book at the time of Romeo and Juliet, but this is much more than a retelling of that famous tale. It isn't even the main action within the novel, but it is an important component.
The story is more about Pietro Alighieri, son and reluctant heir to his father, the famous and controversial poet Dante Alighieri. I say reluctant because for many years Pietro was the second son of a famous man, not really expected to do much in terms of continuing his father's legacy, but with the death of his older brother, Pietro finds himself fulfilling a role that he is ill suited for.
He is given the chance to shine when he unexpectedly gets to fight with Francesco "Cangrande" della Scala, charismatic leader of Verona. This engagement also brings him into contact with his new best friends, Mario and Antonio. The boys are friends, but they are also competitors both in the contests of the Palio and for two of them, in love. This very first fight begins with a flying leap off of a balcony onto horseback - a very telling sign of the type of swashbuckling to come throughout the book!
Blixt skilfully deals with the historical figures of Dante and Cangrande, Shakespeare's famous love story, an intriguing suspense subplot plus provides the reader with an engaging, exciting and engrossing story with a large cast of well written characters.