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The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

The Outcast Blade

by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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865214,439 (3.86)7
As the Byzantine and German emperors plot war against each other, Venice's future rests in the hands of three unwilling individuals: The newly knighted Sir Tycho. He defeated the Mamluk navy but he cannot make the woman he loves love him back. Tortured by secrets, afraid of the daylight, he sees no reason to save a city he hates. The grieving Lady Giulietta. Virgin. Mother. Widow. All she wants is to retire from the poisonous world of the Venetian court to mourn her husband in peace. But her duty is to Venice: both emperors want her hand in marriage and an alliance with Europe's richest city. She must choose, knowing that whichever suitor she rejects will become Venice's bitterest enemy. Lastly, a naked, mud-strewn girl who crawls from a paupers' grave on an island in the Venetian lagoon and begins by killing the men who buried her. Between them, they will set the course of history.… (more)



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Showing 5 of 5
The 2nd Act of the 'Assassini' sees Tycho raised up as a knight, as just as swiftly cast down, as Grimwood's alternate Venice is coverted by both the German and Byzantine empires. ( )
  orkydd | Feb 2, 2017 |
History and fantasy is one of my favourite combinations. With great characters and intricate plots involving royalty and empires this is a good way to fill the time waiting for the next 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book. ( )
  Clifford.Terry | Apr 30, 2015 |
This is a strange book to pin down. It is clearly a middle volume but does not suffer from middle volume disease in that with zero knowledge of the first book the story is enough fun to be worth the read yet in reverse the data dumps from book 1 are handled lightly enough not to be a bother. It is nominally an alternate history but the POD's are elusive and almost beside the point - the book would work roughly as well if the history was standard as little is made of the alterations. It has paranormals and magic but they are essentially props to the plot. What we have is a quite baroque presentation of a noir romance pseudo-historical thriller. Sounds nasty but the writing and characterization are so good it doesn't matter. You have star crossed romances, high political intrigue, several bows to Shakespeare and Marlowe with several more bows to Raymond Chandler and Quentin Tarantino. It works so well I look eagerly forward to the next volume and have bought two books from other series by the same author. If you like Gibson, Zelazney [especially Nine Princes in Amber], Walter John Williams or any serious cyber or noir you should like this although there is no cyber and it is not exactly noir. However those are the touchstones I would use to describe it. Or from a different direction Hunter Thompson. Not high literary art but wonderful twisted genre fun. ( )
  agingcow2345 | Apr 25, 2012 |
(This is the exact same review as the one I wrote for my blog.)

Gritty, stinking, decaying, romantic 16th century almost-Venice – a violent place, brimming over with inbred scheming nobility. Add magic, vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings and voilà - The Outcast Blade, the second act in Jon Courtenay Grimwood‘s Assassini trilogy.

Meet Tycho, misunderstood by everyone including himself, who finds himself involved in a high-stakes game for the power over Venice. Just because he fell in love with the “wrong” girl. Also meet the girl’s scheming aunt and uncle – the dowager Duchess of Venice and her brother-in-law Prince Alonzo, Regent of Venice – and the game is on.

In so many ways this is standard fantasy fare but the way it is told make it something more – a pre-history to Dracula, it seems, and perhaps a writing exercise for the author; a way to show how vampire teenage angst can be written as literature rather than as fast-food fluff. In this the Assassini books reminds me of Guy G Kay‘s Fionavar trilogy, which in so many ways tried to show how a proper high fantasy trilogy should be done – a polemic work, in all its splendour, and thus with it’s downside; a hectoring tone follows the reader throughout.

Not so, in my opinion, with the two Assassini books.

Grimwood’s prose and his devotion to the texture and smell of the places he describe lift The Outcast Blade above the rhetoric level, making the city and its inhabitants show as on the silver screen before the inner eye, in both affected grandeur and desperate decay, gilded velveteen and utmost poverty.

I definitely liked it and I look forward to act three, which should be out in a year or so. ( )
  Busifer | Apr 19, 2012 |
Showing 5 of 5
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