The author's background as a historian shines through his work, and his love of Renaissance Italy is palpable. More interesting to me was how it contrasted with his treatment of more medieval thoughts and practices that Italy was leaving behind- so evenhanded and oblique is Shellabarger's approach that at final analysis he does not seem a clear partisan for one or the other.
The language in Prince of Foxes is rich and beautiful, and several times I paused to softly re-read aloud passages that were so evocative and poetic as to command my appreciation. The writing is reminiscent of Alexander Dumas, but the adventure concerns itself with less swashbuckling and more intrigue and delicate matters of state.
The book is divided into several overarching sections, each with a distinct tone. The first volume of Prince of Foxes had a quite separate personality from what would follow later, changes manifested not just by character growth but a different look at the world the characters live in that encourages the reader to continuously re-analyze the setting and actors within it.
At final analysis, the setting is the gem of Prince of Foxes. Historical personages appear and act true to the legacy we have of them, and mold so seamlessly that a casual reader may be forgiven for not knowing which characters are entirely of the author's imagination and which truly lived and breathed. This was a wonderful book I would strongly recommend.
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