Review: The Fallen Blade

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Fallen BladeThe Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Series: The Assassini #1
Published by Orbit on January 27, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Venice in the early fifteenth century is at the height of its power. In theory Duke Marco commands. But Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. Within the Serene Republic, their word is law, but for all their influence, Venice's fate still lies in other hands . . .

Lady Giulietta is the Duke's cousin. She enjoys greater privilege than many can even dream of, but her status will demand a terrible price.

Atilo Il Mauros is head of the Assassini, the shadow army that enforces Venice's will - both at home and abroad.

Prince Leopold zum Bas Friedland is the bastard son of the German emperor and leader of the krieghund - the only force in Venice more feared than Atilo's assassins.

And then there is Atilo's angel-faced apprentice. Only a boy, Tycho is already stronger and faster than any man has a right to be. He can see in the dark, but sunlight burns him. It is said that he drinks blood.

Award-winning author Jon Courtenay Grimwood seamlessly blends history, politics and dark fantasy in a compelling vision of a Venice that might have been.

I went into this book with no knowledge of the author and little of the plot. All I knew was that it was the first book of a historical fiction vampire series. My expectations were pretty low. In this context, I liked the book far more than I anticipated.

This story caught my interest early and managed to hold it. There is quite a bit of action and the characters are so odd that I wanted to figure out what was going on. Though I would not have had the story develop the way it did, it was definitely decent.

I had two main quibbles with the book:

  1. There is only one non-attractive woman in the book, the one-armed old woman who raised Tycho, the boy in the box. All of the others are described by words like ‘lush.’ Unlikely.
  2. Few chapters (of which there are many) pass without someone voiding their bowels out of fear and/or pain. This strikes me as unnecessarily gruesome, graphic and gross. Sure this is a natural thing and does happen to people, but every time violence happens? Really?

Some people will quite enjoy this book, which I thought was pretty decent for what it was. If you have no problems with violence or constant discussion of scatalogical happenings, give this a try. It also has a bunch of action scenes, political machinations and paranormal fantasy. I don’t think I will be returning for book two, but this was not a bad read.

One response to “Review: The Fallen Blade”

  1. GMR says:

    Huh…interesting. I would never have guessed any of that from the cover/title….who would? Sounds like the characters in the book need a bit more backbone if they are scared witless that easy…enjoyed the review. Thanks for sharing!

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