Prince of Foxes is historical fiction at its swashbuckling best. Samuel Shellabarger sets his tale of a blacksmith’s son who picks up the armor and identify of a fallen cavalier in 1400s Italy when the Borgias were top dogs in the city states.
Andrea Orsini goes to work for Cesare Borgia. Borgia sends him to conquor Citta del Monte as part of Borgia’s plan to create a unified Italian state.The city’s lady, Camilla, is to be Orsini’s reward. Orsini falls for Camilla and switches sides, letting himself in for a lot of trouble.
Few settings lend themselves so well to tales of cross and double-cross as the Italian Renaissance. Shellabarger, a Renaissance scholar, knows the era backward and forward, yet he makes all his knowledge serve his story.
Shellabarger draws his characters with bold strokes, but with just enough hesitancy in each personality to make them plausible. You may wonder how a blacksmith’s son acquired all of Orsini’s skills and polish, but while you’re reading you won’t doubt for a minute that he has them.
The plot is masterful. Shellabarger prepares readers for each plot twist with an adroit touch.
Prince of Foxes is a real page-turner, a made-for-the-imagination mini-series.
Don’t miss it.Prince of Foxes By Samuel Shellabarger Little-Brown, 1947 431 pages #10 on 1947 bestseller list. My grade: B+