Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: The Poet Prince by Kathleen McGowan

The Poet Prince (Book 3, The Magdalene Line)
by Kathleen McGowan
Release Date: May 25, 2010
2010 Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9998-5
Hardcover Edition; 407 Pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Worldwide controversy surrounds Maureen Paschal as she promotes her new bestseller - the explosive account of her discovery of a gospel written in Jesus' own hand.  But a scandalous headline about her lover, Berenger Sinclair, shatters Maureen's plans and sends her to Florence.  In Tuscany, Maureen and Berenger seek out their spiritual teacher Destino, who insists the besieged couple study one of history's great Poet Princes: Lorenzo de' Medici, the godfather of the Italian Renaissance.  Berenger is a Poet Prince of the ancient bloodline prophecy, and even across the centuries, his fate is intertwined with Lorenzo de' Medici's.  Berenger must uncover the heretical secrets of the Medici family - and the shocking truth behind the birth of the Renaissance - if he is to fulfill his own destiny.  These heretical secrets were hidden for a reason, and there are those who would stop at nothing to prevent Berenger's assumption of his rightful role.

My Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed The Expected One and The Book of Love, the first two books of the series, and was thrilled when the third book in this series was published.  That it was an interesting read is beyond doubt, but to say I was disappointed, in comparison to the first two novels, is without question.

All of the elements were definitely in place:  there were heretical secrets, extremely interesting historical characters, a vibrantly written historical past and culture, elements of mystery, intrigue, and adventure, and romance.   I enjoyed learning and reading about the history of the Renaissance and about Lorenzo de' Medici, Botticelli, da Vinci, Savonarola, Michelangelo, and other assorted characters during this time period. As usual, I am always fascinated to learn more about those people we hear so much about, but don't always know so much about, except maybe through their work or their great deeds (or not so great deeds).  To imagine what drove these people, what their passions were, is an amazing thing, even if we will never really know for certain.

Unfortunately, I found the writing in this novel didn't flow smoothly and I found the storyline itself somewhat disconnected, especially in comparison with the first two novels.  I couldn't seem to connect very well with the characters and didn't feel the usual compassion or empathy I felt in the earlier novels, except maybe in the scene about Felicity at the beginning of the novel.  For those who follow Saint Felicity, I apologize, but I have never been one of her followers, and the scene at the beginning of this novel certainly didn't help in that respect.  I personally think the author was trying too hard to give us the facts that she kind of forgot about the story, which is a shame as the characters appeared disconnected from each other and the story seemed rather thin.  I had a hard time trying to figure out exactly who the bad guys were in this one

Although the series was orignally presented as a trilogy, the events towards the end of the novel give me dim hope that perhaps Ms. McGowan is intending to write a fourth book in the series.  I am really hoping she will continue the series, but I seriously hope the fourth book will return to the magic and mystery of the first two books in the series.  Meanwhile, enjoy this book as a 'beach' book for its own sake, enjoy the beautiful descriptions of the art and magic of the Renaissance world of which Ms. McGowan is obviously so very passionate, enjoy the historical descriptions of the Medici family and their world, but it is definitely the weakest novel of the series so far.


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