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Download The Malice of Fortune Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Malice of Fortune Audiobook, by Michael Ennis Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (590 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Ennis Narrator: Adrian Paul, Carlotta Montanari, John Lee, Fred Sanders Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9780449012840
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Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer, as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the western canon, The Prince

When Pope Alexander dispatches a Vatican courtesan, Damiata, to the remote fortress city of Imola to learn the truth behind the murder of Juan, his most beloved illegitimate son, she cannot fail, for the scheming Borgia pope holds her own young son hostage. Once there, Damiata becomes a pawn in the political intrigues of the pope’s surviving son, the charismatic Duke Valentino, whose own life is threatened by the condottieri, a powerful cabal of mercenary warlords. Damiata suspects that the killer she seeks is one of the brutal condottierri, and as the murders multiply, her quest grows more urgent. She enlists the help of an obscure Florentine diplomat, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Valentino’s eccentric military engineer, Leonardo da Vinci, who together must struggle to decipher the killer’s taunting riddles: Leonardo with his groundbreaking “science of observation” and Machiavelli with his new “science of men.” Traveling across an Italy torn apart by war, they will enter a labyrinth of ancient superstition and erotic obsession to discover at its center a new face of evil—and a truth that will shake the foundations of western civilization.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ranks among the best…Firmly rooted in history, as recorded in Machiavelli’s writings.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “For readers who liked The Name of the Rose or The Historian, Ennis has the similar ability to wrap the reader totally in Machiavelli’s world of conspiracy, hatred, and passion. Fabuloso!”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “Ennis brilliantly recreates the complex politics of early sixteenth-century Italy in this absorbing and intelligent thriller that teams Leonardo da Vinci with Niccolò Machiavelli.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A thrilling whodunit.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Machiavelli and [Da Vinci] aren’t just another Holmes and Watson. What Ennis has created is a scenario with two Sherlock Holmeses, each applying his unique approach to crime-solving in an age when even the most fundamental forensics techniques would be regarded as heresy.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Intricate, rewarding…The Malice of Fortune is reminiscent of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose in that the intrigue is rich and is inextricably entwined in its world…A finely wrought history.”

    Denver Post

  • “An intricate murder mystery and political thriller [with] a heartrending love story… Like the best historical fiction, the novel transports the reader entirely elsewhere. Laura Pearson, Time Out Chicago
  • Intricate, rewarding… The Malice of Fortune is reminiscent of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose in that the intrigue is rich and is inextricably entwined in its world. Amid these walls of power the reader no more loses sight of the danger of the game than of the need to solve the puzzle. The novel works not just because it is a finely wrought history but because the characters are of their time while transcending it. Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post
  • A novel that ranks among the best with the Italian Renaissance setting…. The narrative brims with minor details that convey authenticity and authority over the material…. Ennis brings the characters alive with impassioned dialogue. David Hendricks, San Antonio Express
  • Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli join their considerable forces in this teeming historical thriller… They make an exceptional team. Sheryl Connelly, New York Daily News
  • With its vivid, well-defined array of characters, The Malice of Fortune captures the glorious and gritty details of Renaissance Italy in a propulsive story. Ennis has achieved a great accomplishment, historical fiction that places us right into the characters' present. Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Technologists
  • The Malice of Fortune is more than a thriller--it's a tender love story, a grim exploration of the nature of human evil, and an immersive tour of Renaissance Italy as courageous, perceptive young Niccolo Machiavelli fights for his life against ruthless Borgia factions.  A novel written with gusto, panache, and intellectual rigor. Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham and Dust and Shadows
  • A true masterpiece... Michael Ennis has poured the knowledge and wisdom of many lifetimes into the exquisite form of a mystery so dark, so labyrinthine.  The Malice of Fortune is stunning, terrifying, and utterly mesmerizing. I can honestly say I never fully appreciated the genius of Machiavelli, or the savagery of the Borgias, until now. Anne Fortier, author of Juliet
  • “Michael Ennis bring the Renaissance alive in this tour-de-force: The Malice of Fortune dishes out a simmering stew, thick with chicanery, bloodshed, dastardly deeds, code-breaking, puzzle-solving, and a cast of characters that includes Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Francesco Guicciardini, Cesare Borgia—and Damiata, the real-life courtesan whose brassiness, brains, and beauty dazzle even her employer and nemesis: the Pope. Katherine Neville, author of The Eight and The Fire
  • For readers who've been waiting all these years for the next The Name of the Rose—here it is. Michael Ennis brings a scholar’s mind and a writer’s heart to this beautifully crafted work of Renaissance intrigue that has a rare quality of feeling ancient and modern at the same time. A powerful thinking-man’s thriller. Glenn Cooper, author of Library of the Dead and Book of Souls
  • This is a fascinating novel, filled with extraordinary, well-realized historical characters and a plot that is engrossing and wickedly clever. The Malice of Fortune is an excellent, beautifully researched, and well-written novel that has a fine, fine sense of place. It captured my attention up front and kept me turning the pages to the very end. Douglas Preston, co-author of The Monster of Florence
  • Intriguing [and] well-researched...Ennis, a former art-history teacher, is an expert on Renaissance Italy.  Everything in [Malice] is based on actual events and Ennis' fictional conceit - that Machiavelli and da Vinci work together to stop a powerful serial killer - shape[s] Holmes-and-Watson duos out of historical figures.  Having Machiavelli cast in the role of what Ennis calls ‘history's first forensic profiler’ will satisfy those who come for the period ambience. Booklist
  • Epic… This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, with which it is sure to be compared. Kirkus (starred review)
  • "Absorbing and intelligent... Fans of superior historical mystery writers such as Steven Saylor and Laura Jo Rowland will be enthralled. Publishers Weekly (boxed, starred review)
  • A hefty novel about the politics of 16th-century Italy [that] reads like a pulpy mystery… A thrilling whodunit—and a pretty good primer on da Vinci’s ‘science of observation’ as well as Machiavelli’s ‘science of man.’ Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly
  • Ennis is an uncommonly graceful writer and a conscientious researcher… his story zips along, a pleasure. Charles Finch, USA Today
  • “Ennis bring[s] multiple layers of authenticity to his epic novel. It’s a heady mix of “The Da Vinci Code,” Borgia politics and “The Silence of the Lambs.” Think of it as CSI: Italy circa 1502, with Machiavelli as a detective and psychological profiler and da Vinci as history’s first forensic pathologist. Christian DuChateau, CNN
  • Selected for the September 2012 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve | 2/20/2014

    " not as good as I had hoped "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heather Williams | 2/11/2014

    " well .... meh ... ok book , not great ... just ok "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sally Grotta | 1/26/2014

    " A fascinating, well-researched character-driven historical novel. I was taken aback by having Machiavelli as the narrator. But it worked beautifully. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny | 1/15/2014

    " I thought that this book was good as a piece of historical fiction but less satisfying as a murder mystery. Machiavelli, the Borgia's, Leonardo da Vinci and a courtesan who resembles Lucrezia Borgia and gave birth to the Pope's grandson are fascinating characters. The history of Italy during their lives is also fascinating. Even in a time of so much death, a serial killer dismembering women and hiding their body parts throughout the countryside should be chilling, but in the end it was not. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marcia | 1/15/2014

    " This is an interesting historical novel set in the turbulent Italian Renaissance era. The author's use of historical persons reflect his knowledge of these people. Details of Italian life about 1500 are accurate and impressive. Some people resent the use of an historical person in a novel, but this book does not pretend to be a factual account. Instead, Michael Ennis, the author, uses Machiavelli, Da Vinci, and Pope Alexander VI to further his own ideas. The book is divided into 4 sections with 3 different narrators so that the reader may view & understand the action through the eyes of different characters. The list of major characters at the beginning is helpful. One of the prevailing ideas in the Italian Renaissance was the persistence of the ancient Roman idea that Fortune (Fate) controlled a person's life/destiny. Even at the time of such great religious art, Fortune was still thought of as so powerful that human plans were at its mercy. The title of the book reflects this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristine | 1/8/2014

    " An interesting look at religion, power, and mental illness during world history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pat Maust | 1/4/2014

    " Good story. Struggled with the Italian words and the math. Handled the history pretty well, but guess I am just not much of an intellectual! ;) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alej | 12/15/2013

    " I read this title enroute to Florence to visit my son who is studying there. I was in the mood for just this kind of story. The seemingly endless hours in the plane were made much easy to stand because of an interesting historical and literary mystery. I liked it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 12/14/2013

    " I had to push my way through this book for quite some time BUT I'm happy I did. It's a book I will remember for a very long time. Well worth the read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ellen | 12/12/2013

    " The story never did catch my interest and I love art history from this time period. After 75 pages I took the book back to the library. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jesús Rodriguez | 11/27/2013

    " Loved his book Byzantium. This one was very good but a little to intense for me and would probably read again so I could get a better handle to the story. Although it was good and my interest to the middle ages/Rennaissnace era has increased three fold because of this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 10/14/2013

    " A great period mystery that keeps you reading. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 John Kibler | 9/10/2013

    " I gave up about half way through. Just didn't find it very compelling and I so thought I would. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy Koford | 6/8/2013

    " It is a fascinating story in Italy around 1502. It features Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. A bit gruesome in a few places. I loved it's historical education. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 3/17/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. I'm glad I didn't live 600 years ago, or did I? Michael Ennis has written such a fascinating story that I will read his other books. "

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About the Author
MICHAEL ENNIS taught art history at the University of Texas, developed museum programs as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and worked as an independent curator and consultant. He is the author of two historical novels, The Duchess of Milan and Byzantium. He has written for Esquire and Architectural Digest, and is a regular contributor to Texas Monthly. He lives in Dallas with his television producer wife, Ellen, and their daughter, Arielle.
About the Narrators

John Lee has read more than 100 audiobooks. His work has garnered multiple Earphones Awards and won AudioFile‘s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics in both 2008 and 2009. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and co-produced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.

Fred Sanders, winner of two AudioFile Earphones Awards, has received critics’ praise for his audio narrations that range from nonfiction and memoir to fiction and mystery and suspense.