Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.
I have read one other Philippa Gregory book but it was years ago. I liked it, but I honestly don’t remember it much. I have several others I’ve been meaning to read. When I started this I thought it was more historical fantasy, but it was definitely more on the historical fiction side of things. While there might be light fantasy elements, it’s very light. What I understand is that her other books are based on real people and this book (series) is based on completely fictional people, though the time period and things that happen are suppose to be pretty realistic.
I love reading about this time period. And this time in Italy? Even better! And I liked it quite a lot but it was a really easy reading historical fiction. I didn’t really feel steeped in the time period, I guess. I’m not sure why that is, but maybe she kept it lighter to keep the younger readers more interested. It worked fine and for those that may not enjoy historical fiction they may enjoy this one more.
This one brings out some great characters, and some great witty banter between them (particularly in the second half) but even though I do really like these characters and enjoyed the dialogue with them I felt kept at arms length. I think this is because we are kept outside their heads. We don’t know what they are thinking, only what they say. I liked it okay, but I think I would have liked it more if we’d been in their heads. This is more a case of personal preference though. And it certainly wasn’t bad, I just wanted to see more of their personalities and what they had going on in their brain.
Luca and Isolde are great characters. They both are bold and firm in what they believe. Luca is bound to the church and to do their duty, but he’s also got a bit of freedom since he’s in charge of inquiry. Isolde is a woman and therefore has no rights, even though she was raised that women are pretty equal to men. She struggles with not having her old life and is determined to get it back. The characters that really stole the show were Freize, Luca’s companion and ‘servant’ and Ishraq, Isolde’s companion. Freize is hilarious and definitely brings a lot of light banter to the book. He sees things a bit differently than others and isn’t afraid to speak up, and is sure to do so at just the right time. Ishraq is a Moor and therefore not Christian (and is different) and has her own beliefs and way of thinking. She’s also bold and daring and isn’t afraid to do whatever it is she needs to do.
The romance in this was only hinted at, which is good. I prefer for them to get to know each other a bit more and to watch things develop. They haven’t known each other long, but we see they are attracted to each other. As the story continues I imagine things will grow.
I enjoyed this light historical fiction. It’s was a fast read and entertaining. I look forward to continue the series and seeing where things go. I would say 3.5 stars would be a bit more accurate in my rating, but I think it’s one I’d round up for rather than down.
About the author:
Philippa Gregory is the author of several internationally bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Queen, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. She lives in the north of England with her family and welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com. Order of Darkness: Changeling is her first novel written for teens.
Find out more: http://www.philippagregory.com