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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

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No Reviews are Available
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  • lintoinette
  • 06-09-2013

Narrator for Giulia sounds like she needs a nap

Any additional comments?

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!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachelle
  • 14-12-2013

This was a pleasant surprise!

What made the experience of listening to The Serpent and the Pearl the most enjoyable?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Any additional comments?

Worth a credit, worth a listen, and looking forward to book 2!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Hills72
  • 22-08-2013

Good Story & Performance

Any additional comments?

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda Lou
  • 24-08-2013

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!

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • 03-03-2014

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.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Caron
  • 22-02-2018

dreadful narration

I loved Kate's book, The Alice Network, so downloaded this book. The narration is appalling... sorry I can't finish what sounded like a promising story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • L J Goddard
  • 10-08-2017

Bad narrator spoils the book

I enjoyed the story but the person who narrated Julia is terrible. I felt she was just reading the words but doesn't understand what she is saying. Her phrasing is terrible. All the other narrators are great
I enjoyed the other Kate Quinn book 'The Alice Circle 'much more

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Holly G. Stone
  • 09-08-2015

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrea Luhman
  • 05-02-2015

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-2015

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • v.jeffs
  • 13-08-2013

compelling

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!!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Able Marle Devon
  • 20-02-2014

Just beautiful!

What did you like most about The Serpent and the Pearl?

This story is just gorgeous - you close your eyes and you are back in 15th century Rome.

What did you like best about this story?

If you liked the recent TV series you will absolutely adore this book. The characters just spring to life.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

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.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A different side to the Borgia story

Any additional comments?

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Adanaya
  • 10-06-2018

An absolutely brilliant book

Whilst I'm still white hot with rage with whoever recorded 'The Alice Network', because the lead character is actually English, not American, rendering the book useless, this one is different. Okay, so one of the narrators is a little too precise, but the story is all there and I'm not going to give any spoilers, but it's the best novel on the infamous Borgias I have ever read. Each scent overwhelms you, each colour and texture wraps itself around you, If you're a fan on historical novels, then make this (and the sequel) your next choice. Kate's historical research is pretty good, even though she does bend time a little, but her characters are real live people and their stories draw you in like so many little tugs pulling out a great ocean liner

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  • David
  • 31-05-2015

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!