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Shadow of the Lion (Heirs of Alexandria) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 936 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (1 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743471474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743471473
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 4.3 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 799,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A luscious bouillabaisse of alternate history, high fantasy, and historical romance."

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The yellow lantern-lights of Mainz's dockside inns reached out across the dark Rhine. Read the first page
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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Mr Mark Brimicombe on 22 Mar. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Don't be put off by the HUGE thickness of this book - you won't notice how time passes once you get into it. And for a collaberation, the style is remarkably consistent.
In a parallel world where magic is real, but is fundamentally just a form of prayer, huge political pressure comes to bear on the independant city of Venice. And this is the home of the brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, last scions of one of the oldest noble houses of Venice, who have been hiding from assassins in the swamps and slums since orphaned as young children, and now almost fully grown. They don't want to get mixed up in the politics that killed their mother, but it seems they have little choice. The Lion of Venice may sleep, but its Shadow is bringing together an unlikely group of heroes. The brothers Valdosta will find their fates caught up with Kat, a smuggler struggling to preserve her own house's reputation (which house just happens to have a vendetta against Valdosta); the reliable canal girl Maria, and her lover, the deadly mercenary Caesaro Aldonte; Manfred, the youngest wastrel nephew of the Holy Roman Emperor, sent incognito among the Knight of the Trinity (a religious order much resented in Italy) into Venice, along with his protector Erik, the tomohawk wielding Icelander who must both protect and reform his royal charge. And then we have Chiano, the marshdwelling mage whose past is lost to him, and his brainwashed former assassin Harrow, and even Petro Dorma, the rising star of Venetian Politics and head of the secret police. All must learn to work to a common goal, if the Lion of Venice is to be awoken in time to hold back the forces of the demon Chernobog. But Chernobog already has agents loose within the city...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 July 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A very well written book, much as one expects of Mercedes Lackey by now - if you haven't read her other books I suggest you look them up and buy them.

Following on from the review above, I have been unable to find Much Fall of Blood and The Great Doom's Image, have they been released yet? Or are they by other authors?

Also - although A mankind Witch was written last, it should be read 2nd, to get the correct chronological order of events in the books.
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By I R Butterworth on 26 Feb. 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
very happy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 59 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Ringing Changes on the Middle Ages! 3 May 2002
By Walt Boyes - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love historical novels, especially the really well researched and lushly written kind, like the late, and very much lamented Dame Dorothy Dunnett wrote, and I love science fiction, fantasy and alternate history. Mercedes Lackey, Dave Freer and Eric Flint have managed to write an alternative historical fantasy about 16th century Venice. So I got three of my favorites in one shot.
This novel is long. But it never flags. The pace is headlong, but the descriptions are clear, crisp and detailed. And the characters are wonderful, especially the little people, the spearcarriers, and the supporting cast.
A case in point is the use of a certain Basque priest as a main supporting character. It plays great without knowing who that character is based on, but it adds piquancy indeed to know that the character is really St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
The magic isn't intrusive where it shouldn't be, and is organic... that is, it doesn't just come from anywhere, and there are clear rules about how it works.
The magic isn't nearly as important to the plot as the convoluted and terrifyingly complex politics in the story. Remember, this is the same part of Europe that was still reading Macchiavelli as a "How To" textbook.
I read snippets before publication, and I can't wait for the next one. The collaboration of Lackey, Freer and Flint is greater than each of them alone. And since Lackey and Flint are known for being extremely good on their own, and Freer is too, just not as well known, that's saying a lot.
Buy this book. You will be swept away.
The Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
At first daunting, but ultimately very satisfying 13 Aug. 2002
By Joseph Rodriguez - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I must admit, I wasn't particularly looking forward to this book. While I love certain of Mercedes Lackey's writing - especially her Elemental Masters and Free Bards series and her historical retellings of fairy tales - I've never warmed up to her Valdemar books, and I'd never read anything by (or even about) her two co-authors, Eric Flint and David Freer.
I started the book, and was underwhelmed. While the concept seemed interesting - an alternate Renaissance Italy where magic works - the execution seemed clunky, introducing over a dozen major characters within the first chapter or so (a common mistake in historical novels). But within the first few chapters, I found myself caught up by the characters and the events that tied their lives together. By this point, the book had become so gripping that I couldn't stop until I finished it - and at 800-some pages, that takes a while! This is a wonderful book, and has persuaded me to check out some books by Flint and Freer while I'm at it. Certainly if you're at all interested in historical fantasy (especially dealing with alternate histories) you should give this book a chance.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Not a juvenile - thank the Lord! 8 Mar. 2002
By M. Allegra - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this collaboration of Lackey, Flint and Freer. I had been rather disappointed with Lackey's latest offerings (except The Serpent's Shadow)and, while I love and adore Flint, his books with Freer are lightweight bordering on silly. This book really worked for me. I couldn't identify the various authors which is often a problem with collaborations and the plot moved seamlessly from one story line to another. Unlike other reviewers,I had no problem with following the plot, the characters or the intrigue and I don't believe other Lackey or Flint fans will have trouble either. Nor is the Shakespeare reference difficult for any high school student who has read Romeo and Juliet!
The story, set in an alternate world Venice, is an adventure, a fantasy, a court intrigue, a romance, in other words, something for all tastes but in a unified package with great and sympathetic characters. Don't let the heft of the package put you off - The Shadow of the Lion is long but well written, using an easy to read vernacular. Highly recommended.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Not Mercedes Lackey's usual offering 17 Mar. 2002
By CFE - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first thing to say is that I like almost everything that Mercedes Lackey has written and so I am predisposed to like this. I have to say, however, that I suspect that Ms Lackey did not write the lions's share of this book (or perhaps she did write that part because the book gets much more 'Lackey-like' when touching on the supernatural). (The Lion of St Mark features in the book)
The book is really an alternative history and will, I think be enjoyed by people who like relatively lightweight alternative history. It creates a world where the Library at Alexandria was not burned and the wisdom and knowledge contained there was saved by Hypatia, the courageous librarian who was unable to protect the library in our world . (Hypatia is obviously a favorite of Ms Lackey's .since she 'featured' in The Ship Who Searched'). The theory is that the Library contained much arcane knowledge and that as the result of saving it Hypatia was beatified and set up a tolerant and liberal Christian denomination with St John Chrystomenes (sp?) (who in real life was, I believe, dismissed as a crazy fanatic). In addition the knowledge of and practice of magic is very much a part of this world. Furthermore there is a substantial pagan presence. Some of these pagans are Mages. There is a group called the Strega (again , not well explained, they seem to be the equivalent of gypsies), whom the Church - or certain factions in it - are oppressing. Many of the Strega work magic in some form.
In this sixteenth century Venice the Church has factions who follow St Peter (the Petrines) and those who follow St Paul (the Paulines) and some Hypatians. The exact beliefs of these factions are never explained - which probably doesn't really matter since the book is complicated enough without that - except that, by not going into that kind of detail the book may lose alternative history fans. The Church is a powerful and complex force in this world's politics as it was in the real world - but I missed just where each faction stood. Certainly the politics of Europe, woven through with magic and a powerful Lithuanian demon ARE pretty detailed - and complicated- as are the political factions within Venice herself. I found that reading the book took some effort because of the very rather labyrinth like plot but, having made the effort I finally got caught up in it ...only to find it had finished!
The reason that I don't think Ms Lackey wrote much of the book is that one of her strengths is her ability to make the reader care about a character, or small group of characters. In this book the two principal characters are orphaned brothers Marco and Benito. They are pawns of shadowy puppet masters - who, again, the reader never knows much about. However, apart from the fact that Marco is fairly saint like and Benito is a street rat,and they are important in a 'great scheme', I never really felt I knew much about ' how they ticked'. We spend a lot of time with Ceasare, a shady character who is a spy, assassin and mercenary . . .but his character is deliberately unreadable.. . Only one character comes across clearly; an ambitious courtesan called Francesca. We understand her, she is highly intelligent, beautiful and a survivor. She also seems as if she is the only person who has control over her life! Perhaps the book should have been about her!
I do not feel that regular Mercedes Lackey fans will necessarily enjoy this book. In fact, I would recommend this book only if you like dense, alternative universe stuff (though it isn't good enough for an alternative history purist) with less characterization that we have come to expect from Ms Lackey and (not enough) rather erudite magic.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
If you need a Merovingen Nights fix... 8 Feb. 2003
By Michele L. Worley - Published on
Format: Hardcover
_Shadow of the Lion_ (hereafter referred to as SoL) is indeed related to Merovingen Nights, although SoL's acknowledgements may not mention it, but it's not a simple recycle.
Once upon a time (1980s), the Merovingen Nights series, hereafter referred to as MN - 1 novel and 7 anthologies - was set in the city of Merovingen (a Venice-like city of canals) on Merovin, a world in Cherryh's Union/Alliance universe cut off from the rest of humanity and frozen at a pre-starflight level of technology. Cherryh introduced the framework of the city and some of the star characters in the novel _Angel with the Sword_. The series regrettably stopped at anthology #7 and passed out of print.
Moving on to _Shadow of the Lion_ (SoL), we have an alternate universe wherein the breakpoint was the conversion of Hypatia (last Librarian of Alexandria in our timeline) to Christianity. (This information is provided gently early on, via a character ducking into a church during a rainstorm, looking at the frescoes of Saint Hypatia.) In SoL's universe, when the mob incited by bishop Cyril (in our universe, *he's* the saint) came to burn the Library down, Hypatia was saved by a miracle. That's the official version, anyway; it's been several centuries, Hypatia was an eloquent woman, and magic exists in SoL's universe, so SoL's history may have been prettified. Since Hypatia became a major Christian theologian-saint and the Library survived, Christianity and the political map of the world are different in SoL's 16th-century: the Church has different relationships with other religions, the Holy Roman Empire is a major power, and neither France and England exist as such. The magic system resembles that of Lackey's elemental magic novels with more religious overtones, a la Katherine Kurtz' Deryni.
What has this to do with MN? The main action of SoL takes place in Venice (obviously correlating nicely with Venice-like Merovingen), and Lackey has used some of her contribution to MN's characters and short stories as raw material for SoL. Both characters and plots have been remolded, however, allowing for 1) the different histories of Venice (pretech) and Merovingen (posttech), 2) more realistic characterization, and 3) revision of areas where the original cast and plots interacted most with contributions from other authors. Consequently, any similarity between the storylines fades as events in SoL play out.
Manfred - a prince serving his hitch in the Knights of the Holy Trinity - and his protector Erik have no counterparts in MN, and neither does Manfred's lover, the courtesan Francesca, consummate political operator that she is. I suspect Lackey of major contributions to her character, especially some of her conversations with Kat Montescue, daughter of a noble house fallen on hard times; Kat's far better developed than her underutilized MN alter ego. The priests seeking to form a new order within SoL's Church have no MN counterparts - instead, they correspond to those who in our universe founded the Society of Jesus: the Jesuits. The nebulous Strega correspond to the slot occupied by the Janists in MN, but only insofar as they interact with the Valdosta brothers.
In place of MN's house Takahashi, SoL has the ducal house of Ferrara - the Valdosta family. As in MN, a wayward daughter of the house got involved with a very dangerous group of political fanatics - in SoL, the Montagnards - who murdered her as unreliable before the story opens, leaving her two young sons fugitives far from home. Marco's in the Rigel Takahashi role: a good, somewhat naive kid, having had no chance to learn social skills in the swamp. Benito corresponds to his younger half-brother Denny - a wild petty thief. Their introduction to SoL is a twisted reflection of "Deathangel" from _Festival Moon_: they ask one of their mother's old contacts (now *ex*-Montagnard, as it turns out) for help. Caesare is far more realistic than MN's Mondragon. Mondragon was a wish-fulfillment character - very beautiful, a great fighter who'd left his revolutionary cause through having a few too many ethics (his assassin aspects were played down), and genuinely devoted to the canaler-girl who once saved his life. Caesare presents a Mondragon-like facade, especially to his rescuer Maria, but it's a pose. He's mercenary to the core: he's only interested in Maria for her canaler connections and her body, and wants her loyalty as long as she's useful. When *he* takes in the Valdosta brothers, it's not charity; their grandfather hadn't abandoned them, and had paid Caesare (among others) to search for them. (What the reader knows up front, although the other characters don't, is that Caesare helped murder the kids' mother in the first place.)
To summarize: the events of the Marco & Benito thread initially reflect those of the corresponding characters in MN; compare with the 5 stories Lackey contributed to MN anthologies 2-6. However, the SoL and MN threads diverge with good reason, with the realistic characterization of Caesare and Maria and their differences from Mondragon and Jones.
SoL isn't MN, but if you liked certain aspects of MN you'll like this.
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