Rome, 1492: The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous - or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web....
Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope - and passionately in love with her.
Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.
©2013 Kate Quinn (P)2013 Penguin Audio
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"Narrator for Giulia sounds like she needs a nap"
I think the story content is fascinating, and 2/3 of the narrators are wonderful. However, the narrator for Giulia seriously sounded like Ben Stein running on 2 hours of sleep. I'm gathering she's not a native English speaker, but the prosody was horrible. She'd pause mid sentence and it would be confusing as to the emotional content of the message. I tried listening for 2 days then couldn't do it anymore. Guess I'll read this on my Kindle!
"This was a pleasant surprise!"
I often struggle with buying audiobooks from first time writers, because I've been burned way too often. Thus, I bought this book with really low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
I think the best part of it was the choice to have multiple narrators. I found it exceptionally wonderful to listen to these three narrate this story, and what's more, it really complements the way author wrote each character both as they see themselves, and as others see them. That's a clumsy way to describe it, but when you hear it, it will make perfect sense.
I don't read historical fiction so that I can learn about history, but I really do enjoy being able to get a sense of a place and time other than my own here and now. This book does a wonderful job of taking you then and there, and shows you what life is like from more than one point of view.
Worth a credit, worth a listen, and looking forward to book 2!
"Good Story & Performance"
I am currently listening to this audiobook and am really enjoying it. I've been a big fan of the Studio Canal & Showtime productions of the Borgias and am enjoying the alternate POVs from non-Borgia characters.
I was disappointed that there weren't any more Kate Quinn books available on Audible yet. I hope they plan to release more of her novels in Audible format.
"VERY INTERESTING TAKE ON THE BORGIAS"
I've read a lot of books on the Borgias, both fact and fiction, and watched all the recent cable movies about them. This book is great point of view on the Borgias, told by Guilia Farnese, the teenaged married mistress of the Borgia patriarch, 60 year-old, Rodrigo, later Pope Alexander VI; a cunning intelligent dwarf who is portrayed as a very sexy little person like Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Dinklage in "Game of Thrones"; and a female chef who is on the run from a major crime in Venice. The cool thing is that each character is read by a different narrator. There's nothing more disconcerting than a male narrator trying to sound like a teenaged girl or a female narrator making "courtly love" in a quasi-bass voice. The dialogue is clever and interesting. Well worth the price of admission!
"Half a book"
I listened to all of Kate Quinn's The Serpent and the Pearl and I'd have liked to have found out how it ended. Yes, yes, I listened to the entire thing, but the story just stops with the heroes in grave danger and no resolution to any of the stories I've been following for sixteen hours.While it is true that the title includes a "Book 1" after a very strategic colon, I took that to mean the first one in a series - not act one of a story.
I might listen to the next one if I can't find anything good (want to bet it won't resolve anything either?) but I feel a little ripped off.
Besides the non-ending, this is a historic melodrama with characters and dialogue that are alright, but in no way memorable. The writer has an annoying tendency to harp on specific characterizations over and over again: Julia has long hair, the dwarf character is short and the cook is thin. Alright to pass the idle hour, but don't get your hopes up that you'll find out how it ends without spending more credits. Bah.
"Best Audio book I've listened to in years."
I give this book five out of five stars for immersing me in the 14th Century Vatican, exposing me to stunning characters, mesmerizing me with mystery and intrigue, and making me hungry like a culinary trained foodie. If you haven’t read a work by Kate Quinn you need to, the woman will wrap you up in a tale and leave you begging for more. I could not put this book down.
The three main characters each have their own narrator. Between the work and the actors, this is one of the best audio book I have listened to in years, fantastic.
"Interesting Take on the Borgias"
While there are some glaring historical inaccuracies, the overall story was entertaining enough that it didn't really matter. The author knew she was taking liberties and just went with it. The three separate characters each had their own unique quirks and a good storyline that wove together enough to make me want to keep listening. It was unbelievable at times, and not exactly great literature, but I can't say that I didn't enjoy listening. I even bought the second book to continue the story. I will agree with some people's comments that the narrator for Gulia was awkward with her pauses and pronunciation. The two other narrators were perfect.
"Entertaining story, poor performance"
Kate Quinn delivers interesting characters and an entertaining (if insubstantial) story.
All three of the narrators had beautiful voices, but the performance left much to be desired. I'm not sure if the problem was that the narrators were inexperienced, or if they were just reading the book for the first time... but all three performances suffered from awkward pauses and inconsistent pronunciation of names & places.
"A delicious take on the world of the Borgias"
I finished this book and immediately bought the sequel, I really didn't want to leave the world that the author has (re)created. Set when Rodrigo Borgia become Pope, The Serpent and the Pearl was *very* enjoyable. It's just the sort of historical novel I like, with plenty of actual history wrapped around the tale, but not getting in the way of it. It's written from three alternating first-person points of view. There's the Pope's naive mistress (who shares a household with her mother-in-law and various Borgia bastards), a runaway-nun Venetian cook, and a very short but deadly bodyguard. The voices of each character are quite distinct, both in a story sense, and in the performers reading the story sense. I especially enjoyed the acerbic food-obsessed cook.
It ends on a slightly too abrupt cliff-hanger, though as I now have the next book, I'm not too worried (that was a very effective tactic there Ms Quinn).
All in all fine summertime escapism, also making me want to go back to Rome.
"Interesting story with some caveats"
I did not like the narrator for Guilia as she was hard to listen to. The story seemed only half finished but the characters were interesting. Some of the description was repetitive but overall I liked it well enough. Interesting era.
I have just finished listening to this book and loved it. The characters of the dwarf and the female cook have been described so well you feel as though you know them personally.
I cannot wait until the next book comes out........but I will have to.
Even though I knew a lot about the Borgias this shows them from a different angle.......the lives of those in his household and how they see the Pope, his children and most importantly his mistress!
This is a compelling book and will not disappoint!!!!
This story is just gorgeous - you close your eyes and you are back in 15th century Rome.
If you liked the recent TV series you will absolutely adore this book. The characters just spring to life.
It was lovely to have the story told by 3 people - it made the book really interesting and the narrator's sounded exactly as you imagined Guilia, Carmelina and Leonello to be.
A different side to the Borgia story
If you love history you will love it, if you don't love history this book will spark your interest and you will probably end up loving history!
"A good introduction to the Borgias"
I really enjoyed this book, which covers an aspect of the history of this era that I have never read about before. I'm now looking forward to listening to the next book in the trilogy, which I have already downloaded!
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