Reviewed by Jamie Driggers
Have you ever wondered why the Montagues and Capulets of Romeo and Juliet began their famous feud? David Blixt has, and in answer, he gives us The Master of Verona.
Yet, The Master of Verona isn’t so much about the feud (though it is in there) as it is about Congrand della Scala. Told through the perspective of Pietro Alagheri, son of Dante (The Inferno), we catch a slice of Veronese life on the brink of Renaissance.
The cast of characters is enormous (and, thankfully, it is provided at the beginning of the book). Fictional characters intermingle with historical figures as well as Shakespearian figures. They all have names like Gargano Montecchio and Marsilio Da Carrara, and if it isn’t enough that most of the names sound like someone else’s, they all have nicknames as well. All that is said to say that to read this book is a commitment. But if you’ll hang in there for a few chapters (and refer regularly to the cast), it will be worth it.
I am rather unfamiliar with this time period, so I can’t be certain, but this novel seems very well researched and accurate to the times. Even the author will tell you that he potentially took some liberties with the life of Dante and the work of Shakespeare, though not direct contradictions to historical record.
I found this to be a highly engaging and exceptional story. It took a good bit for me to get into it and keep track of the characters, but once I did, it was thoroughly enjoyable. It is an intimidating work. But even if you aren’t familiar with the period, their weapons, their manners and their customs, you will be before you are finished.
Armchair Interviews says: This read is well worth the effort.
Author’s Web site: http://themasterofverona.typepad.com