Prince Of Foxes
by Samuel Shellabarger
It is easy to see why Prince of Foxes is a favorite of many; Italy during the time of the Borgias was a place rife with danger, intrigue and betrayal, all elements that make for a great adventure novel. It is against this backdrop that we meet Andrea Orsini, a true Renaissance man (and literally, given the setting of the book) who is handsome, intelligent, and gifted in everything he sets his hand to be it art, soldiery, disguise, espionage, or romance. Driven by ambition to make a place and a name for himself in the world, he hides his peasant birth, adopts a false identity, attaches himself to Cesare Borgia and begins his rise in the world. However, in the course of carrying out his various assignments, he unexpectedly finds true honor, loyalty and goodness in some people he meets along the way; deeply impressed, the young man decides that this is the type of man he wants to follow, rather than the cold, scheming, ruthless Borgia. However, he soon realizes that once entangled in Cesare Borgia's web, it is not so easy for a man to untangle himself; in fact, it may not even be possible at all. And add to that the romance element -- Orsini is caught between his love for a woman who happens to be married to (an honorable and brave) someone else, and the passionate determination of a former flame (who happens to be a Borgia) for him -- and throw in a corrupt cardinal, a couple of hired assassins, mercenaries, a dwarf and a saint, and you have a tale that is full and rich.