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The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin
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The King's Agent (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Donna Russo Morin

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6610180,945 (3.57)1
wagner.sarah35's review
Set in late Renaissance Italy, this novel is a fun blending of fiction and history. Battista della Palla is an agent of King Francois I of France, charged with obtaining many legendary works of art for the French king. He encounters the mysterious Lady Aurelia when he sets out to find a mythical piece of art for the king, a piece which may tip the balance in the ongoing wars in Italy. As Battista and Aurelia work to locate the piece, they endure trials reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy and find clues in the work of great Renaissance artists. While not realistic, The King's Agent nevertheless is a fun read, full of adventure and famous Italian art. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 7, 2012 |
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I received this book as a Goodreads ARC giveaway. This was a great book and I really enjoy it. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and this book did not disappoint ( )
  slvoight | Mar 31, 2013 |
The King’s Agent is a historical fiction set in Renaissance Italy with a fantastic twist. The tale is filled with suspense, secret societies, hidden artifacts, romance and political intrigue. Based loosely on the life of Battista della Palla a patriotic plunder and friend to Michelangelo in the sixteenth century this tale captivated me.

The tale begins when we meet Lady Aurelia, the ward of the Marquess of Mantua. Her life is completely sheltered, guarded, and boring. She longs for adventure, to see sculptures, paintings, cities and landscapes. When Battista della Palla, a handsome thief from Florence breaks into her home she sees an opportunity for adventure. The tale that unfolds reminded me of the movie National Treasure and Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code. As Battista and Aurelia search for a hidden artifact to save Battista’s beloved Florence and aid King Francois of France they encounter secret societies, enemies, allies and an attraction to one another.

The character’s in Morin’s novel are well fleshed out and complex. Each chapter reveals more about them. I liked Aurelia and found her to be curious, brave and bright. There is an air of mystery about her, and she does some things that make you wonder whose side she is on. This added a thread of suspense throughout the novel. Battista is handsome, smart and has a fierce loyalty to the king of France. He loves Florence and is good to the men he employees. I enjoyed the way they interacted with one another. We meet Michelangelo and it was one of my favorite scenes. The author portrayed him in such an interesting light. We go inside the Vatican and hear conversations and thoughts of the current church, and its political views. Characters we meet along the way add to the adventure, from the voyeuristic couple with their wild dinner parties; to the mysterious woman Aurelia secretly meets. The relationship between Battista and Aurelia developed slowly and I enjoyed watching this tender romance unfold.

It is quite apparent that Morin did a lot of research for this novel. I loved the blending of historical fiction and fantasy. I was so impressed with how she wove The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri into the tale, allowing it to reveal clues on their quest. The quest itself was riveting, and action packed as they met danger and death at every corner. I like puzzles, conspiracy theories, secret societies and hidden relics with power and this novel delivers it all. The pace of this tale is slow at times; in part because of the details and world-building. I found myself on Goggle looking up; paintings, people and landmarks in Florence. I also dug up my copy of the Divine Comedy and re-read passages. The attention to detail, the unveiling of the countryside and the challenges within the quest make it well worth the time. I enjoyed the changing perspectives and the way Battista and Aurelia worked together to solve each piece of the quest. The ending reveals Aurelia secrets and wrapped things up nicely. The back of the book contains some interesting information from the author and in itself is worth a read. I found her reasons for the use of certain numbers touching. It is important to note that fans of The Legend of Zelda will see its influences within the quest. Sweet :)

I want to thank the author for sending me a finished copy in exchange for my unbiased review.
Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
( )
  kimbacaffeinate | Mar 30, 2013 |
Battista della Palla is an art collector, or a thief, for the king of France. His job is to collect valuable paintings and sculptures for the king. He is in a mission to find a mysterious sculpture which is believed to have special powers when he meets mysterious woman named Aurelia. Aurelia has been living as a ward of Marquess of Mantua and her life has been very sheltered but she is a woman with secrets.

Before I started this book I thought this would be straight-forward historical fiction and not so much a mystery book with the quest of finding the sculpture. I haven’t read much about Italy and I enjoyed learning more about the country. The book is a take of Dante’s Inferno and video game The Legend of Zelda and I’m not familiar with either of them and I felt like I was missing way too much stuff. Battista and Aurelia travels through "Hell", "Purgatory" and "Heaven" finding clues within paintings and from Dante’s work. The stuff with Hell, Purgatory and Heaven went little too much religious side that I lost interest and I’m not good with this mystery thing anyway.

I loved seeing the relationship growing between Battista and Aurelia. Aurelia had been living very sheltered life and hadn’t know freedom and she grows so much with Battista’s crew and seeing the world. I also liked Battista’s crew and their friendship between them.

While the book was bit hard to get into at first, I still enjoyed it. I just wish I was more familiar with Dante so I could have understood more. But this made me even more curious about the author’s previous book To Serve a King which I’ve wanted to read.
  Elysianfield | Mar 30, 2013 |
It seems like I waited forever for this novel, and despite the fact she autographed it to someone else, I found it to be well worth the wait. I loved the action and the characterization, I hope to read more of her works. I LOVED it! ( )
  croknot1 | Oct 12, 2012 |
Set in late Renaissance Italy, this novel is a fun blending of fiction and history. Battista della Palla is an agent of King Francois I of France, charged with obtaining many legendary works of art for the French king. He encounters the mysterious Lady Aurelia when he sets out to find a mythical piece of art for the king, a piece which may tip the balance in the ongoing wars in Italy. As Battista and Aurelia work to locate the piece, they endure trials reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy and find clues in the work of great Renaissance artists. While not realistic, The King's Agent nevertheless is a fun read, full of adventure and famous Italian art. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 7, 2012 |
Dante's Divine Comedy holds the key to the quest to one of the greatest and most powerful works of art - and it is this piece that Battista della Palla is commissioned by the King of France to acquire, any means necessary. To succeed he must break into palazzos, run through secret doors and passages, and decipher clues that are found in famous works of art. Along his way he meets Lady Aurelia, an intelligent and feisty woman who longs for freedom, adventure and love. This is a brilliant combination of adventure, romance, art, history and mystery. A great read for all!

Please visit my blog for my full review:
http://bookchateau.blogspot.ca/2012/04/kings-agent-donna-russo-morin.html ( )
  keida | Apr 25, 2012 |
The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin is a historical fiction novel set during the 16th century in Italy. It is based on the real life art thief, Battista della Palla. Battista works for The King of France, Francois I. During a trip to 'acquire' a particular piece of art he runs into Aurelia. Aurelia has lived a very sheltered and mysterious life. She helps Battista escape with the condition that she accompany him. Battista is desperate so he agrees. Battista and Aurelia have great chemistry from the beginning of the book.
Battista takes Aurelia home with him. Aurelia won't sit back and stay at home. She wants to help Battista solve an artistic mystery that might help France. Together, with the help of Battista's lively crew, and a poem by the infamous Dante, they traipse across Italy on an adventure of a life time. Battista is charming, loyal, and clever. Aurelia is an intriguing character. The way her character unfolds during this novel is compelling. This story has quite a handful of characters including Battista's loyal friends.
The King's Agent is a cross between the Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones with endearing characters that will captivate you. The Italian landscape makes a perfect backdrop to this book. It has everything from adventure to romance. The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin is very entertaining. It is an epic adventure that was a joy to read. ( )
1 vote mt256 | Apr 6, 2012 |
Florence, Michelangelo, art, THAT COVER! What is not to like about this book at first blush? Nothing! And after reading it my initial opinion stands and then some. I don't know about you but I am first attracted to a book's cover and then drawn in by the synopsis; this one had me two for two.

Our hero, Battista was a real person. In this novel he is an "acquirer" for Francois I. Of art. Great art, beautiful art. And with his latest assignment - art that hasn't been seen in a VERY long time. Francois is battling Charles V of Spain and feels that his ownership of a certain piece will ensure his superiority. Francois turns to his man Battista to find the lost art. Battista is most intrigued by the challenge and by the artwork.

Aurelia is a lovely young woman under the care of her ward. She longs for a freedom he will not allow. Suddenly Battista enters her life offering her that freedom but she holds a secret (oh it's a good one!) that can help but it also can hurt. Will they do what is right?

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written, enthralling mix of Renaissance art, politics, the supernatural, Dante,suspense, space, romance and yes - my passion, Michelangelo. He makes an appearance and how could I not love a book where he appears. Ms. Morin develops a cast of remarkable characters drawing from both the historical and the fictional to create a world that might have been. They all seem so very REAL. The writing evokes atmosphere so very well at times I almost thought I could smell and taste the food being served. Florence is a city of sights and smells that can almost overwhelm but Ms. Morin tames it without tempering it. This is a book I will keep for another reading as it is full of so much that I love; art, Florence, Michelangelo, love.

Ms. Morin is expert at drawing out a mystery and keeping the reader turning the pages for wont of knowing what will happen next. She develops her characters slowly, chapter by chapter until you are about ready to scream - then another piece is revealed. I love a book that evokes that kind of emotion. Aurelia is a fantastic character.

So do yourself a favor and join The King's Agent as he searches for his sculpture. You will have a heck of a good time. And learn a little something along the way. ( )
1 vote BrokenTeepee | Mar 27, 2012 |
This is a romp of a novel. The story literally bounces along, bops happily through Florence and Italy in search of mysterious piece of sculpture of immense importance, following clues from Dante's Divina Commedia, following clues in paintings that may or may not indicate UFOs. And yet, while it sounds a bit laughable and weird, it all kind of fits together and was, in the end, a great deal of fun.

Set in 1500s Florence, the story follows Battista della Palla, a Florentine patriot who steals art to keep Florence free. When he receives a mysterious request from the King of France to locate an even more mysterious sculpture, he comes across Lady Aurelia, protected ward of the Marquess of Mantua. Educated and longing for freedom, Aurelia allies herself with Battista and joins him in his search for the sculpture.

I suppose the flavor of this novel is 16th century Indiana Jones. While reading, I was reminded of Emilio Salgari, Zorro, and Errol Flynn movies. The playful thief-hero practically winks at the reader with each daring theft, and there's this overabundance of masculinity among the thief's band of co-thieves that begs to be slashed. It's campy, but what can I say? I love me some camp!

It took me some time to really get in to the story; the feel was a bit too bombastic for my tastes: first a theft! and a mischievous-but-honorable thief hero! and his adorably rascally and masculine crew! and a mysterious imprisoned woman! But about 60 pages in or so, I think the story settled in a bit and I got used to Morin's writing style, and from that point, I was sucked in.

The novel requires some suspension of disbelief and a willingness to not be a historical stickler (the heroine's behavior felt a little too romance novel-y feisty for me, a bit like Tangled's Rapunzel all grown up) but much like The DaVinci Code or the Indiana Jones movies, doing so allows for a delightfully silly, engrossing ride. ( )
  unabridgedchick | Feb 28, 2012 |
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