Monday, April 2, 2012

Blog Tour Review: The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin

From the Back Cover:

The King’s Agent is based loosely on the life of Battista della Palla--a patriotic plunderer, a religious rogue--of the 16th century, a lifelong friend to the great Michelangelo. To some he is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for Francois, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. When Francois sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista's search for the elusive object leads him to a woman with a mission of her own.

As the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, Lady Aurelia is a woman with a profound duty, and a longing for adventure. In search of a relic intended for the King of France, Battista and Aurelia cross the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art, political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante's Divine Comedy. It is an adventurous quest with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.

My Thoughts:

The King's Agent is an ambitious story, combining elements of theology, literature, thematic art, secret societies, and even ancient aliens, to form this swashbuckling adventure, and the adventure starts on page one. As Battista and Aurelia work together to find a mysterious sculpture that the King of France thinks will give him the power to defeat his enemy, Spain, once and for all, they stumble on to a road map of instructions hidden in Dante's Divine Comedy and in the works of Renaissance painters. But they've also stumbled on to an ancient secret, one that is guarded with deadly intent. From booby-trapped passages underneath wicked castles to caves hidden high in the mountains, their quest takes them to Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, and to a new level of awareness of the world they thought they knew.

Having devoured and adored Donna Russo Morin's previous release, To Serve A King, I have to say I was a bit let down by this one. I found the language to be really flowery and the plot was over-dramatic for my tastes. Some of the situations Battista and Aurelia found themselves in were really over the top and I just couldn't suspend disbelief enough to fully enjoy the ride. I thought the whole thing kind of read like a farce, with not enough groundwork laid to make the transition from fact to fantasy. I almost felt like Battista was stage-acting through most of the story, and I kept thinking, this would probably make a great play, but as a novel, its substance fell short for me.

But I am drawn to anything set in Italy, and that aspect of the novel was wonderful. Italy springs to glorious life in Donna Russo Morin's hands. As our protagonists travel from castle to castle, or town to town, the Italian countryside serves as a beautiful backdrop. Her depiction of the city of Florence is a treat for the senses, full of food and fashion, women and wine, art and architecture, and colorful people with colorful language. And, once again, this author managed to pull off a twist I didn't see coming, and though the ending wasn't exactly what I had hoped for, I liked that it wasn't predictable and it was very poignant. Overall I did like it, but it's not going to be my favorite of her novels. If you're in the mood for something fantastical and Italian, you may really enjoy The King's Agent.

My Rating:  3 Stars out of 5

The King's Agent is on a blog tour!

Click here to view the rest of the tour schedule.
Click here to visit Donna's website.



  1. This one is on my wishlist. I appreciate your honest review of it.

  2. The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin is a historical fiction novel set during the 16th century in Italy. It is based on the real life art thief, Battista della Palla. Battista works for The King of France, Francois. This is a book that I have been eying anxiously for some time now, and the reviews I have been reading have been great. I am so thrilled to see that you loved it and that it was such a great read for you. I need to see if I can grab this one! craig


I love comments! Getting feedback on my posts makes my day! Thanks for being here!