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Leonardo and the death machine by Robert J.…
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Leonardo and the death machine

by Robert J. Harris

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    Leonardo's Shadow: Or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci's Servant by Christopher Grey (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both involve assassination plots and art in Renaissance Italy & Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo and the Death Machine is more of a 'Young Indiana Jones' style adventure novel and includes a rowdy friendship with Sandro Botticelli. Leonardo's Shadow revolves around The Last Supper and the political intrigue surrounding its creation.… (more)
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Fourteen-year-old Leonardo da Vinci is eager to move beyond the dull copying exercises set for him in his apprenticeship to acclaimed artist Andrea del Verrochio. When an impromptu football match leaves his friend Sandro Botticelli unable to fulfill an important commission for the Medici family, Leonardo jumps at the chance to help. But he gets more than he bargained for when he stumbles across the plans to a mysterious machine. Soon Leonardo has a ruthless assassin on his heels as he attempts to uncover a plot to bring down the ruling family of Florence.

Leonardo and the Death Machine is a fast-paced historical adventure story that highlights all of Leonardo's genius (artistic and mechanical) in a way that doesn't make him seem like MacGyver. I enjoyed the interweaving of details of the way artists worked and the political situation in volatile Renaissance Florence, and I smiled at the inclusion of Leonardo's famous fastidiousness regarding his appearance. For all the inclusion of historical detail, though, Harris never let his research dictate the story. Sports matches, assassination attempts and flying machines make this a book clearly geared toward boys (I certainly enjoyed it as well) - after all, what teenaged boy could resist that title?

Leonardo da Vinci makes a wonderful adventure protagonist - he's ingenious, mechanically and artistically inclined and living during a turbulent and fascinating era. What better way to bring a history lesson alive? Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that there are more of Leonardo's adventures to come, but I'll certainly be picking up the author's other Young Legends titles, including Will Shakespeare and the Pirate's Fire!

Also posted at A Hoyden's Look at Literature. ( )
  Caramellunacy | Feb 3, 2010 |
High adventure as a young Leonardo da Vinci stumbles on an intricate and indecipherable diagram of something guaranteed to bring 'destruction on to the plain' by the 'hand of God'. A mystery has to be solved before Piero de Medici is killed and the Pitti clan take control of the city of Florence. The young Leonardo is likeable in his preoccupation with all things mechanical; his desire to draw the 'heart' of people and objects, and his urge to be up and doing. The life of renaissance Florence swirls around him as he and his friends come to the attention of Lorenzo de Medici, at the same time try to avoid capture and/or death by the Pitti henchmen
  cranbrook | May 24, 2009 |
A fictional story set in 1466, in Renaissance Florence in Italy. Florence is the most exciting city in Europe, the centre of art, science, finance and deadly intrigue. Fourteen year old Leonardo da Vinci has only recently arrived in the city to begin his apprenticeship training as an artist, but already he is bored with the drudgery of his master's workshop. He yearns to be a great artist himself but seems he to spend more time running errands.
An impromptu street football match ends in an arm injury for his friend Sandro (Botticelli) sees Leonardo leap at the opportunity to help out the unfortunate painter who has been commissioned to paint a portrait for the rich Medici family. This leads to the young artist being dragged into murder and intrigue, and will be fleeing for his life.
Leonardo sees a chance for fame and fortune when he stumbles upon the plans for a mysterious machine, an intricate and indecipherable diagram of something intended to destroy the rulers of Florence, the powerful Medici family. The mystery must to be solved before Piero de Medici is killed and the Pitti clan take control of the city of Florence. Before he can act, he is accused of a bloody murder and forced to go on the run with the fugitive slave girl Fresina. They flee into the countryside, but are pursued by a ruthless assassin who will stop at nothing to silence them.
As armed mobs fill the streets, Leonardo has to return to Florence to solve the mystery of the deadly machine in order to save himself, Fresina and his new friend, Lorenzo de Medici. ( )
  Rhondda | Oct 1, 2008 |
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Young Leonardo da Vinci dreams of being a great artist, but as an apprentice he is doing the boring work of brush-cleaning, canvas-stretching and debt-collecting. But life soon becomes more exciting and dangerous as he finds himself caught up in a murder.… (more)

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