"It is a book of a dexterity that is surprizing even to those readers well acquainted with the sound craftsmanship of the fiction of the author's later and riper method. A broad canvas, with every one of a hundred or more minor characters sharply defined." The New York Times, August 29, 1926
Bellarion the Fortunate
The romance of Italy in the fifteenth century. Bellarion was, when we first meet him, en route for the priesthood and the cloistered life, but being diverted to the service of the Princess Valeria, he served her faithfully for five years, developing in that time from an artless convent-bred youth to a soldier of great strength and cunning, adoptive son of Lord Facino and the feared and hated object of all his enemies. Now all this time Bellarion served his lady's cause and served it well, tho she gave him only suspicion and contempt for the seeming deviousness of his ways. With all won, all seemed lost. Then the princess looked into her heart and found there more than gratitude.
published by The Riverside Press
Cambridge, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926
Bellarion the Fortunate was published after the phenominal success of Scaramouche and Captain Blood and Sabatini uses the lessons he learned from writing those books to his advantage.
Once again, Sabatini crafted a story which follows his protagonist from humble beginnings to to the heights of society. Once again, the hero, Bellarion in this case, is inspired to great deeds by seemingly unrequited love of an independently minded woman of the nobility.
Set against a backdrop of pre-Renaissance Italy, a setting Sabatini was to return to in Chivalry, convent-bred orphan Bellarion is sidetracked almost immediately upon setting out on a journey from the monastery at Cigliano to study at Pavia. The adventure and practical lessons he finds along the way is more than sufficient to replace the further education he craves.
Like Andre-Louis Moreau of Scaramouche, Bellarion removes himself from one area of conflict only to embroil himself still deeper in another.
Characters and intrigues swirl about the protagonist as he snatches victory from the face of defeat primarily by using his native wit and early education, all the while remaining humble and honorable.
Bellarion the Fortunate is the perfect mix of political intrigue, action and romance written by Rafael Sabatini at the top of his game.
A review by Simon McLeish at his home page.
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