Fools' Gold by Philippa Gregory

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Fools' Gold by Philippa Gregory

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: One of my favourite historical series continues - if you haven't got to know the wonderful central quartet here, you really should!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857077400

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Warning: Spoilers here for Changeling and Stormbringers here.

Sent to Venice, the world's biggest marketplace, Luca Vero and his friends are given strange instructions - to make money for the church by trading and even gambling. It's the only way to expose a possible coin counterfeiting scheme, but it also opens them up to participating in Venice's famous Carnival, where romance and excitement are at a high. While Brother Peter is distressed by the thought of committing usury, Luca has other things on his mind - both his growing feelings for Isolde and the possibility of finally finding his father, who he'd given up for dead. But with dark forces at work, the five friends will need all of their willpower and ingenuity to survive in Venice.

First the good news. This is still one of the most enthralling historical series of recent years, with Gregory's descriptions bringing 15th century Venice vividly to life. As well, the characterisation continues to be a strong point - Isolde develops brilliantly here, Ishraq and Frieze are truly superb supporting characters, and Brother Peter feels more a part of the group here than in previous books. New characters, especially street gambler Jacinta and her father, are also well-developed. In addition, it's well-plotted and the alchemy aspect to the book is intriguing.

Having said this, as much as I enjoyed the book, I didn't like it quite as much as the first two. There's a huge amount of angst towards the middle of the book with the love triangle between Luca, Isolde and Ishraq dominates for a time. In particular, one nighttime meeting didn't convince me at all.

However, once we're into the closing pages, the author brings things to an excellent climax leaving some tantalising questions - particularly about the head of the Order of Darkness, the mysterious Milord - to be answered in the fourth book. I'm certainly looking forward to spending more time with these wonderful characters.

You can buy this book as part of a bindup.

Another of my favourite historical novels recently has been the wonderful romance Smuggler's Kiss by Marie-Louise Jensen.

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