Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Of Fathers and Sons: Geoffrey Hotspur and the Este Inheritance by Evan Ostryzniuk

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: May 1, 2013

Geoffrey Hotspur, orphan-squire and ward of the powerful John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, longs to return home to France. Having fought in the ranks of the now disbanded papal armies in Italy, he finds himself penniless and stuck in a foreign land far from his native Avignon, with only a resentful and unscrupulous debt collector as companion. Above all, though, Geoffrey fears losing his place at court, and so he must make his way back to the halls of Gaunt or risk being forsaken by the only family he has known. Twelve-year-old Niccolo, the new marquis of Ferrara and heir to the strategic lands of the Este family, is under siege. His right to the throne is being contested by his uncle. Outnumbered and insecure because of his questionable legitimacy, Niccolo must gather an army of his own. When the paths of the errant squire and troubled marquis cross, their fates intertwine as each endeavors to take from the other what he needs.

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Before picking up Of Fathers and Sons I'd never heard of the Italian House of Este so forgive me, but much of my admiration for this piece stems from history that came to life under under Evan Ostryzniuk's pen. 

I can't imagine what a daunting task recreating the late middle ages is for a fiction writer, but Ostryzniuk manages it well, balancing the atmosphere and political tension against the culture and feel of Italy in the late 1300s. It seems pompous to say so considering I am so far removed from the period, but the piece has an authentic feel to it and was obviously created by someone with a deep respect for both the history he writes and the craft of storytelling.

Of course, fiction isn't just about setting is it. A good story needs good characters and here again Ostryzniuk did not disappoint, his leads being both historically appropriate and emotionally compelling. The young Niccolo d'Este was easy enough to like, but I dare anyone not to have sympathy for a boy in his situation. Geoffrey on the other hand is absolutely fascinating. I can't help being drawn to these kinds of characters, the ones written in shades of grey, that don't cater to a simplistic labels of good or bad, right or wrong. I was pleasantly surprised to discover such a character here. 

As I said I wasn't overly familiar with politics so I did find myself referencing quite a few details, but I want to make it clear my research has nothing to do with Ostryzniuk's writing. Events are more adequately explained within the narrative so don't be intimidated, I'm just obsessive, especially when presented with historic material I've not previously encountered.

All in all, a solid fiction that will prove particularly interesting to those interested less well known chapters of history. 

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Are you expecting the war to come to you? I am no condottiere, but I am certain such things do not work that way.
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Check out all the stops on Evan Ostryzniuk's Of Fathers and Sons Virtual BOOK TOUR

Monday, May 27
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, May 28
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, May 29
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Thursday, May 30
Review at vvb32 Reads
Friday, May 31
Guest Post & Giveaway at vvb32 Reads


Friday, June 21
Review at Luxury Reading

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