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Book 14, Blood and Beauty: The Borgias, is a new(ish) novel by Sarah Dunant. I’ve read one of her books before, but not Birth of Venus, which seems to be the most known one. I listened to the audio version on my commute, which was read well, borrowed from our local library.

The novel begins with the conclave of Cardinals electing a new pope, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who becomes Pope Alexander VI. It traces the lives of the Pope and his illegitimate children as they rise to even more power through conniving, conquests, marriages, and murders. The novel skips chunks of time while the characters are waiting for various plans to come to fruition, and ends with Lucrezia beginning her third marriage.

This was a very compelling book. The different plots were woven together deftly, if a bit hard to follow in the audio version, and the story moves along quickly. The characters were well developed, and I was sad to find out that the release date for the sequel hasn’t been announced yet. I guess that’s what I get for reading older books; by the time I read them, the sequels are always out and I’ve lost the patience I once had for waiting for new releases. Oh well.