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on 21 March 2018
Philippa Gregory's excursion into novels for young adults is, on this evidence, a very felicitous one. She makes few concessions to the youth of her intended readership, employing her usual pithy, often poignant prose style. The story itself is a delight - fully to be enjoyed by older adults, and magical in its deftness of touch: if you like a fairy-tale, this is for you! There is a complete absence of vulgarity, though the occasional oath is uttered. Luca is a real hero, with all the fragility that one might expect from a young man laden heavy with responsibility. Freize, his young friend and helper is a delightful character - fully drawn and characterized.
All in all, then, I cannot think of a lovelier novel for a young adult, but I hope this does not deter older folk from reading it. At 69 years of age, I enjoyed every page, and look forward to reading the sequel in short order.
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on 22 August 2013
This just has to be one of those books that actually the storyline isn't absolutely outstanding, the writing isn't perfect, the characters are not intelligent, witty, funny, unique or anything but as soon as you start reading you'll go from cover to cover in a day. Why? Because it's entertaining, for some reason it draws you in. I feel like this book has been written (and I know it's not) as a tester series for the topics, the historical content isn't quite accurate as other people have said but that really does not bother me in the slightest.

The characters? They are very dim, they are obsessive, the treatment of women is horrendous and the only person with any talent or brain power is the 'slave girl'.
The book does not progress all that far but I'm hoping when I read the sequel now 'stormbringer' that it gets further, it's good enough to buy the sequel as it draws you in without being difficult or tiring, it is a very good read and it's easy going and great for anyone of any age.
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on 15 June 2017
Ok read,but quite easy to work out the plot which didn't really go anywhere.
Much prefer Karen Maitland for medieval fiction .Have read and liked most of Phillipa Gregory books but was a bit disappointed with this one
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on 27 September 2016
So disappointing, this book is embarrassing. Philippa Gregory can be excellent writing about the Tudor period when weaving a story around known royal persons. I bought the second book in this series before I read this first book, so wish I hadn't wasted my money. I often think authors who churn out many books regularly, lose focus, they become too wrapped up in their own thoughts, and forget how to be inventive and write an entertaining serious story.
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on 12 June 2017
I have read most of Philippa Gregory's Historic novels and thought I'd try something different. This was fun and well written as I expected it would be . I believe there are more in this series, I look forward to reading them
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on 1 July 2013
If there had been a three and a half star rating I would have gone for that. This story started out really well. I was immediately taken with the characters and drawn in to the story. I loved the light hearted touches and the intrigue but, just as I was really becoming interested, it came to an abrupt end leaving me feeling a bit short changed. It was almost as if the author just got bored and couldn't be bothered writing any more.
I also became a bit confused as the story was most definitely set in Italy but some of the characters had very English names. Not what I have come to expect from Ms. Gregory's usually excellent books.
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on 5 June 2016
I have never read anything by Philips Gregory before and was looking forward to trying this. I was disappointed at the obvious and formulaic plotting in the first half of the book. It was not just formulaic in the reassuring comforting way of an favourite old sweater, it was just so predictable as to be irritating and destroy the believability / sympathy for the characters. The second half improved and I liked the episodic structure but overall I was disappointed.
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on 16 September 2013
This book was badly written and a very poor plot - if you could call it a plot. Dreadful book, not up to the standard I would expect from Philippa Gregory at all. It was so amateurish, I hope this review gets read by her as it does seem as if she dashed this off in a hurry and is resting on her laurels - or maybe it was a first book- I did not check the first publish date.
She cannot expect to write this rubbish and get away with it, I read the first page which was poor and right until the end thought that somewhere I would find the point of the book or that it must get better.
Very poor standards and has really put me off buying another book by this author although previously was a bit of a fan.
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on 20 July 2014
I really have enjoyed history all my life and at 85 still can't get enough of it. It was my best subject as school. So Phillipa Gregory is my most favourite author with her knowledge and all the research she does to make the facts correct. Will be purchasing her new one when it comes out as well as Barbara Erskin's books which is another favourite author. Some of them makes me shiver but I enjoy them.

Thoroughly enjoy Phiippa Gregory's books. At 85 years old history is still my favourite read and was my favourite subject at school. I also love Barbara Erskin's books On the edge of Darkness was a very good read but sent shivers down my back at times so I will definitely be purchasing her new one also
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on 12 June 2013
This was a real departure from the historical biography novels (which I have been a huge fan of) and I worried that I wasn't going to enjoy the book. I needn't have worried, I was caught up in the story from first to last, and then immediately ordered the next in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Luca's first investigation, and it brought to mind the Cadfael series (another personal favourite). Recommended whole heartedly.
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