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The Fallen Blade: Act One of the Assassini by by Jon in Courtenay Grimwood [Paperback] Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841498459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841498454
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,065,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Sharp as a stiletto, dark and dazzling as a masquerade. Grimwood's Venice is totally compelling (Mike Carey)

Full of mysteries that remain unsolved . . . Grimwood creates a fascinating world and involving characters . . . most importantly, he makes us want to read the next two volumes of the trilogy (INDEPENDENT)

Vividly gothic . . . complex but compelling (IMPACT)

Book Description

A tale of ambition, revenge and the rise of a vampire assassin from this critically acclaimed British author.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Fallen Blade is the first book in Jon Courtenay Grimwood's new series, The Assassini. In it, he creates an alternate 15th century Venice, one plagued not just by the era's political upheavals, but also vampires, werewolves and witches. It is an exciting time to be alive (or undead).

For a relatively compact book, The Fallen Blade contains a sprawling cast of characters and no shortage of action. The ostensible lead is a mysterious young man called Tycho - who has, quite literally, appeared from nowhere (or ancient Scandinavia, same difference). Tycho is a gorgeous physical specimen with the face of an angel. However, that's where the resemblance ends. He's a vampire (Mr. Grimwood gains kudos not only for avoiding the word but also avoiding it in a natural way) and one with no self-control.

Anne recently drew parallels between vampirism and puberty and, in The Fallen Blade, Mr. Grimwood continues to link the two. Tycho is a raging pit of hormones - hungry, horny and hot - and he's straddling not two, but a half-dozen worlds. His distant Viking past is a series of upsetting memories, his life on the Venetian streets is confusing and lawless and his cultivation into high society is a series of unpleasant, non-sensical rules. Tycho is a perpetual conflict between his festering, murderous instincts and the brittle veneer of civilisation that has been lacquered onto him by his more patient friends.

Arguably the least patient of said friends is Atilo, the city-state's chief assassin. In a previous life (figuratively - unlike Tycho, Atilo is still very much human), Atilo was a warlord for the city's enemies.
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Format: Paperback
Vampires and werewolves in a 15th century Venice with magic! What's not to like?

Venice is ruled by Duke Marco, Prince of Serenissima, but he's a simpleton and so his uncle, Prince Alonzo the Regent, vies for power with his sister, Marco's mother, Duchess Alexa. Atilo, spy, assassin and head of the Assissini is past his prime, but he's driven to find his own successor in the wake of a battle with krieghunds, the shapechanging warriors of Leopold, the German emperor's bastard son, in which he loses most of his trained assassins.

Into this brutally Machiavellian setting comes a strangely beautiful pale boy, discovered shackled with silver and walled up in the hold of a Mamluk pirate ship. He's strong, fast and agile, can absorb peoples' thoughts and knowledge, has a strange hunger, burns in the daylight and fears to give in to the full moon.

His only memories are of a northern village where he was an orphan and a slave, and then of falling through fire... but it seems that was a hundred years ago. While in hiding the boy discovers and forms an attachment to Giulietta, Duke Marco's cousin and a marriage pawn. When Giulietta is abducted, supposedly by Mamluks Venice begins to slide towards war.

Atilo discovers the pale faced boy at the scene of a kill and the boy's speed and agility make him realise that if only he can find him, tame him and train him, he might have found the successor he's been looking for. He names the boy Tycho.

The twists and turns in this story take Tycho from being Atilo's prisoner to his apprentice until he finds Giulietta once again and falls foul of Venetain justice.
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Format: Paperback
There's enough going on in the first hundred pages of The Fallen Blade that I honestly had trouble keeping track; enough character, atmosphere and narrative in that short space to fit out a swathe of less ambitious fantasy sagas from top to tail. Overwhelming is what it is, initially, and for its density - for its complete and utter abundance from the word "go" - The Fallen Blade will very likely haemorrhage readers of a certain type. For myself, only rarely will I think to put a book down without sticking with it till the bitter end... and I nearly did this. Nearly... but not quite.

Imagine my astonishment, then, that having resolved to give Jon Courtenay Grimwood's dark fantasy debut a little longer to find its feet, and taken the opportunity to realign a few of my own key expectations, I found in The Fallen Blade the first act of a trilogy with such tremendous promise that at this point, its difficult beginning be damned, I wouldn't hesitate to proclaim it the finest new series of the year to date.

Perhaps the problem I found myself facing, starting in on book one of The Assassini, was a lack of familiarity with the author: an award-winner, at that. And here I hadn't read End of the World Blues, or The Arabesk Trilogy -- more fool me, from where I stand now.

But I don't think that was it.

I think the trouble was, I came to The Fallen Blade expecting a certain standard of fantasy -- which is to say, politely put, standard fantasy. We all know the like, no doubt. And what with the uninspiring blurb and cover art adorning Orbit's edition of The Fallen Blade, it's surely fair to say I had my reasons. Namely a city teetering on the brink of collapse, with a war in the offing, a history of horrors and a proliferation of political strife.
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