The Serpent and the Pearl (Borgias Series #1)

The Serpent and the Pearl (Borgias Series #1)

by Kate Quinn

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A gripping novel about history’s most infamous family—The Borgias—and an innocent girl pulled into their treacherous rise to power, from the USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network.

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web…

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope—who is passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101624944
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Borgias Series , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 60,242
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two Novels of the Borgias, before moving to the 20th century with the The Alice Network. All her books have been translated into multiple languages.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A masterful storyteller.” —Margaret George

The novels of Kate Quinn are…

“Full of great characters.”—Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Epic, sexy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Deeply passionate.”—Kate Furnivall, author of The White Pearl

“A riveting plunge into an ancient world.”—C. W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow

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The Serpent and the Pearl 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
SThornton More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Kate Quinn's Rome series and have been eagerly anticipating her foray into the Renaissance and the world of the Borgias. THE SERPENT AND THE PEARL was well worth the wait! I know a fair bit about the Borgias, but it was refreshing to see Rodrigo, Cesare, Juan, and Lucrezia as secondary characters here, allowing Guilia Farnese, Carmelina, and Leonello to take center stage. The Bride of Christ (AKA Rodrigo Borgia's concubine), the cook with secrets and a mummified hand in her pocket, and the snarky dwarf bodyguard kept me laughing and flipping pages until the wee hours of the morning. As I've come to expect from Quinn's novels, the characters are flawed, but somehow I always end up rooting for them, even when I want to throttle them. Set all that amidst the lush backdrop of the Renaissance (not to mention Carmelina's drool-worthy recipes!), add a dash of political intrigue, and a dose of black humor and you've got a riveting novel from cover to cover!
BooksMania More than 1 year ago
Loved it ! To my shame,I knew nearly nothing about the Borgia prior of this book. But then I researched the characters, and appreciated even more the way Quinn gave them life in her novel. I sympathized with Giulia, was intrigued by Leonello, but my favorite character was Carmelina Mangano.  I read a lot of historical fiction novels, but few have the happy vibe this one has. It distracts you and puts you in a good mood. A book hard to put down, followed by its sequel, The Lion and the Rose.
WLNewcomb More than 1 year ago
Kate Quinn's THE SERPENT AND THE PEARL is akin to stepping into a Da Vinci or a Raphael painting and hanging out in Renaissance Italy for a while. She paints a vivid picture of the Rome of the Borgias, with lots of palace intrigue, sumptuous feasts, romantic entanglements, stunning meals, atmosphere spanning the gamut from seedy taverns to the highest reaches of the Vatican, stomach-teasing descriptions of food, even a murder mystery or two or three, and amazing presentations of luxurious banquets. The food. Not sure if I underscored that quite enough. Is it possible to crave a book like a favorite side dish to a meal? Anytime I'd eat Italian food, I'd want to read a scene or two, like a favorite Sangiovese that goes perfectly with saltimbocca. But even more memorable is Kate's choice of point-of-view characters. She pulls off a Borgia story without a single scene from a Borgia's point of view. Instead, we experience the story through the minds, hearts, and senses of one of the more unique character trios I've seen: Rodrigo Borgia's legendary mistress Giulia Farnese, her cook Carmelina, and her dwarf bodyguard Leonello. This was a perfect narrative strategy because we not only see a wider range of the time and place through these three very different but inextricably linked individuals, but they open the door to subplots just as enthralling as the main plot. My only regret is that this story ends with cliffhangers for the main plot as well as both subplots! I do understand the reason why, though, and I'm looking forward to reading THE LION AND THE ROSE to see how it all plays out.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Carmelina Mangano, a talented cook, arrives in Rome after a perilous escape from Venice where she is wanted for an extremely serious crime that could wind up in her execution.  She proves her culinary skills and persuades her cousin, Marco Santini, another famous cook trained by Carmelina’s father but cursed with the addiction to gambling.  Both are hiding secrets that keep them constantly looking over their shoulder and both are living in a town full of violence and shed blood on a nightly basis.  Their skill with creating delicious dishes fit for royalty and their ability to cover for each other are both amusing and create a constant tension with the other kitchen staff, employers, and acquaintances and will definitively come to an unpredictable head well into the novel. Leonello is a dwarf also skilled in gambling. But he is an educated gambler whose goal in winning at the tables is to buy classic books of poetry and plays, mainly the former.  He manages to avoid fights with others who hate losing at cards but then his world is turned upside down when a woman friend who was a decent, hard-working woman is found murdered in the most ghastly way.  Leonello tracks down the killers and circumstances of his capture evolve into his new position as a protector of a noble family.  Later another woman will die in the same manner and it is Leonello’s passion to track down the group responsible for these grisly deaths. Giulia Farnese believes she is marrying Orsini, a handsome gentle soul but discovers she is a pawn meant to satisfy the desires of the notorious Cardinal Borgia, head of the Cardinals, manipulator of men and wealth, possessor of a killer secret of his own but most of all wanting to woo Giulia into serving as his mistress. Their journey in that direction is both fierce, funny, and tender, that is until upon the death of the Pope, circumstances begin to go awry every which way every character turns.  The uniting of these characters who don’t know each other but are directly and indirectly tied to each other in an extraordinary plot makes this high wire reading that is constantly thrilling and passionate! Kate Quinn knows her history well and crafts books that rivet the reader on every rapidly turned page.  Here she’s moved out of her Roman cycle of novels from earlier years and presented a fascinating tale of the famous Borgias sure to intrigue numerous readers.  Well-deserved, well-plotted, energetic, vivacious historical fiction about corruption in the Vatican and Rome that this reviewer definitely recommends! 
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
THE SERPENT AND THE PEARL by Kate Quinn is an intriguing Historical Fiction set in 1492 Rome. #1 in "A Novel of The Borgias",what a beginning! Fast paced and filled with deceit,betrayal,passion,secrets,revenge,enemies,mystery,corruption and friendship. Follow Giulia Farnese,Cardinal Borgia,Leonello,Carmelina and a cast of characters that are as wicked as they may be good. Cardinal Borgia is beyond wicked,he is a Spaniard bent on having his way at all cost. Giulia is forced to be his concubine by her doting husband or his he a spineless jerk.....Oh well, let's move on,my thoughts. We have all heard of The Borgias,or some of us anyway. "The Serpent and The Pearl" virtually comes to life on these can almost feel Giulia's pain. A riveting tale with engaging,and charismatic characters. A dangerous web of deceit,and the legendary rise of the Borgias in ancient Rome,as told through the eyes of a young girl,Giulia. A very complex,compelling tale of lust,betrayal and let's not for. If you enjoy historical fiction,early Rome, and a great read than I would suggest you pick up "The Serpent and The Pearl" for your reading pleasure. A great read from beginning to end. I can hardly wait to read the rest of the story......Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Leonello took care of Anna's funeral arrangements when no one else would. I hope he recovers well from his injuries at the hands of the French guards.
anne_jindra More than 1 year ago
The year was 1492 and she fled the slithering canals of her beloved Venice for a crime so terrible she wouldn't speak of it. She who had stolen a relic to escape the city. Who had dressed as a boy for the masquerade. Her sins were so numerous she wouldn't even attend Mass. And she landed with the Borgias, the one family in Rome that knew a secret that no one else did. That rules existed to create scandal, that nothing forgivable was pursued and that when you were powerful, penance was light. They called her mistress, La Bella, and her virtue was dear to her- she'd been raised properly on a more rural estate. The dangerous streets of Rome shunned her as harshly as she locked them out. Did Carmelina, the criminal, tell her mistress the one thing that every common woman knew? Of course, that one common secret was death for some. Those without stronger brothers to protect them, and even for people who had men to look out for them in the rougher times. Leonello loved a serving woman who knew that secret a little too well, loved her like a sister, and the day that he found her, crucified on a serving table was the same day that he met the Borgias as well. If all roads led to Romes, somehow all sins seemed to find their way back to the Borgias... and La Bella, in her innocence. Anne Jindra On YouTube BadFantasyRx
52chickadees More than 1 year ago
“You Don’t Want to Miss This Spellbinder!” I must begin by saying that this is the first of Ms. Quinn’s work I have read, but, believe me, when I say, it won’t be my last. Isn’t it odd how we manage to cross paths with people in our lifetime—and oft times make a difference in the paths they take? Such was the course in 1492, when Carmelina Mangano ran away from her familiar surroundings and family in Venice, hoping to seek lodging and employment with her Cousin/gambler/”Maestro di Cucina”, Marco Santini. Marco happens to be the master chef in Madonna Adriana Da Mila’s Palazzo Montegiordano. Little does anyone know the terror and secrets Carmelina harbors within herself. Meanwhile, in a darkened tavern in the less-affluent part of Rome, sits an unlikely-looking card shark—a dwarf by the name of Leonello,(“The Little Lion”) who is not only “Talented” with games of chance, but with razor-sharp knives as well. He accompanies his friend/tavern maid Anna to the marketplace and both are sidetracked by the sight of crowds watching a wedding procession. Who is the stunning bride? Why, none other than Giulia Farnese, who is scheduled to marry Madonna Adriana’s son, Orsino Orsini. But what awaits Giulia after the grandiose wedding and feast fills her with shock, anger and dismay. Heartbroken, she remains in Madonna Adriana’s palazzo. Feisty soul Carmelina has secured a non-paying position as a cook ( after rescuing her Cousin from certain dismissal) and wins high praise for her delicious dishes. While Rome is in an uproar over the rapidly declining health and eminent death of Pope Innocent, much bribery and corruption occur in finding his replacement. What part does the swarthy, charming, yet ruthless Spaniard, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia play in all of this? He has made a deal with young Lord Orsini, making his marriage to Giulia Farnese nothing but a sham, among others. When Leonello’s friend Anna is brutally murdered, the little lion takes it upon himself to track down the killers, no matter whose doorstep the guilt is found. His knife prowess wins the attention of Cardinal Borgia’s eldest Son/ Bishop of Pamplona, Cesare, who hires him to guard Madonna Julia, Madonna Adriana and his Sister, Lucrezia as the French Army advances closer with each passing day. Leonello agrees, harboring ulterior motives of seeking Anna’s killer—and becomes a thorn in Carmelina’s side as well as a trusted confidante to Madonna Giulia. The Author has created a spellbinder full of intrigue and drama that will have you holding your breath, salivating for more and sad when you reluctantly turn the last page. Ms. Quinn has also graciously included a snippet from this novel’s sequel entitled “The Lion and the Rose”. Thank-you Ms. Quinn, your descriptiveness easily transported me to the palazzos of Rome and beyond, and I loved every minute of it! I look forward to the further adventures of Madonna Giulia in the sequel. If you love Historical Fiction, then you will want to place this on the top of your TBR list. Nancy Narma
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