Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Shadow of the Lion by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer

The Shadow of the Lion, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer.  Riverdale, N.Y.: Baen Publishing, 2002.  e-book, 811 pps.

I came upon Mercedes Lackey's books via her Valdemar series.  Some folks I know object to talking "horses."  I was immediately captivated by them and tales of their heralds.  I've read lots of her books and so I was delighted to find that Baen Publishing offers some of her books on e-format free.  The Shadow of the Lion was one of those offers and it did not disappoint.

Shadow of the Lion offers an alternative history of Venice, Italy.  There are canals and folks living in the swamps, thieves and princes, barons and sailors, corrupt men far up in the hierarchy of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and corrupt politicians, healers and demons and monsters but-- for those who object to talking "horses"-- no heralds or their companions.

All of the characters in The Shadow of the Lion are expertly developed.  I especially enjoyed Maria, the woman who makes her living on her gondola, the swamp rats, the brothers Marco and Benito, Caesare, and the monster.  I found myself invested in their lives and their outcomes.  Many of them reminded me of facets of the personalities of some of my Italian relations.  I was there in Venice watching the action.  I held my breath as the monster swam around, negotiated the rooftops with nimble Benito, and immersed myself in the intrigues and intricacies surrounding the royal families. 

sapphoq reviews says: The Shadow of the Lion has a grand sense of place and history about it.  The length of the book was needed to tell the stories of the folks in it.  The use of magic in the book was succinct and aided in the tale itself.  Highly recommended for any who enjoy alternative histories and well-done fantasies.

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