Unholy Order: A Paul Devlin Mystery

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It's like Dark City meets Fight Club minus the awe. There are no moments of ooohs and ahhhs for some surprises. Lorenzo, an apprentice of Galileo at the employ of the Medicis, and Lucia, the adopted daughter of Duke and Duchess Lorraines are the two star-crossed lovers, the foci of the story. I really love the japanese anime, Attack on Titans that I should feel giddy with this book—what with the same concept of a Walled City but instead of giants or titans, you have the walking army of malformed people outside the walls.

The plague has swept throughout Europe that cities have fallen, and people suffer from deformities and inevitable death. Only one city is left standing, the renowned Walled City.


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Across the seas, none bears the concern that Europe has that they don't know how crucial the spices they're trading are to the people running from the plague. With such premises, I should have been intrigued but I was only enveloped with impassiveness. When I first read the book, I don't know what the war is all about or if there's a greater war than a war between two Houses, The Lorraines and The Medicis, and a war against the plague.

I really love the cover. There's an Assassin's Creed feel to it. But reading the book, I think that it lacked something. It lacked the air of mystery. Halfway in the book and I still don't have a clear idea what kind of atmosphere the author was trying to convey. I think that overall, the book was very much stoic in tone.

It was really stoic until The Nameless One the venerable among the deathseekers or elite assassins thought of Lucia in place of his wife while making love to her.

That where I think the Shadowmaster and his minions comes from

That really peaked my interest. I clicked the request button for an ARC from AngryRobot via netgalley because of the badass cover, not even pausing to read the synopsis and never thinking that there's a romantic touch to it or erotica for that matter. Somehow, it was on this part of the story that I couldn't put down the book anymore. The people in this book live in metaphor, propelled by metaphors and killed by metaphors. I don't know if people in Europe during the Enlightenment is very much concerned with metaphors because somehow this book is scrambling for metaphors. But if there's one thing the author was successful at with metaphors, I have to say that part where The Nameless One made love with his wife.

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The Shadow Master is a very serious book with a bit of humor. If only the author was consistent with putting humor throughout the whole book without breaking its seriousness like what Michael J. Sulliman did for The Riyria Chronicles , this would have been a very successful book. May 19, Amber rated it it was ok Shelves: netgalley.

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It felt like Renaissance steampunk, if that's even a thing. Honestly, I liked this book but could only give it a 2 star rating. Maybe, 2. I didn't hate it, but I didn't really like it either. I enjoyed some aspects of the book, but overall it was just okay. The whole story was confusing, especially the true identities of most of the characters.

I kept thinking that the prodigious details would eventually weave into an elaborate and satisfying tale, but sadly that never happened. The ending was lackluster and frankly, a huge bummer. I could see where the author wanted to go, and the concept seemed interesting to me at first. It was overtly vague and choppy which only accomplished to keep me in a state of puzzlement from start to finish. May 20, Isis rated it it was ok Shelves: action , e-arc , steampunk , romance , mystery-and-or-fantasy , religion , suspense , history , netgalley.

Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. I give this book 2. What to say about this book? This story had so many different things going on that at times I felt lost, not necessarily understanding the relationships or motivations of some of the players. Clearly there are many themes during the Renaissance period that have been approached with a truckload of artistic license.

Examples include the feuding between the Medicis and the Lorraines, possibly a reference to the House of Lorraine? But then who are the Nameless One and the Shadow Master supposed to be a riff on? This book does take a bit of effort to read in the beginning, but once you've read maybe 10 percent it gets easier to make sense of all the different threads being woven in to create the greater story.

Yet it remained somewhat of a challenge for me, based upon my rough knowledge of history, as seen below. The Medicis sponsor Galileo, while the Lorraines sponsor Leonardo despite what the Goodreads blurb above states. They never give last names, but clearly are referring to Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vinci.

The two ruling Houses are constantly trying to supplant the other and take complete control of the city, totally disregarding the City Councilmen and their City Guard. They each try to gain advantage by using devices that their resident inventors create. Yet some of the machines of the ancients are also references to works by Galileo and Leonardo, but that may make sense in light of the the ending. There is an attack on the two Medici brothers early on which took place while they were leaving church.

That could almost be lifted straight out of history books, for there was once a conspiracy to depose the family by killing Lorenzo and his younger brother Giuliano during Easter services. Both assassination attempts, real and fictional, ended the same. In retaliation Cosimo hires the Nameless One to kidnap and hold the Lorraines' only child, a daughter named Lucia. And here is where things begin to get a bit strange, for I don't know what to make of the Nameless One throughout the entire book.

Meanwhile the rest of the world is being ravage by a deadly plague. The Walled City is the only plague-free place left known in the modern world. The Walled City was most likely Verona, particularly as that was one of the two settings for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juiliette , which is clearly used as the model for the relationship between Lorenzo, who is Medici-sponsored Galileo's assistant, and Lorraines' daughter, Lucia.

Since the Walked City is rumored to be plague-free, it becomes a Mecca for all those with the plague. There is a daily lottery to allow a few of the hundreds of supplicants into the City. The plague itself is possibly meant to reflect something else on another level, and all I can come up with is a sending from God based upon my very loose interpretation of the end of the book. What is being done to those that win the lottery to enter the Walled City is another mystery to me.

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Again I am sure that there is more going on here than I am getting, but what it makes me think of is The Island of Doctor Moreau. Maybe I'm reaching, but that's where my mind went upon reading some passages.

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Of course between the two ruling Houses battling for supremacy, the City Guard being overwhelmed by the growing number of plague victims gathering at the gates, we also have a crazed religious faction to deal with. And it certainly seems that the character is based upon friar Savonarola. Granted that is the name of the Church's High a Priest, but in one of his final scenes something happens that runs perilously close to the real Savonarola, who later in life and under torture confessed his visions and prophecies were made up and was put to a 'trial by fire. Of course in reality the Sforza family was at one point against the Medici family, then married into it later on, and in reality one of the Sforza's one took in Leonardo da Vinci for a time.

So much back and forth between fiction and fact that I found myself getting confused, even when things weren't taking place in the correct era. There are plenty of humorous moments, and silly suggestions, such as Duke Lorraine thinking to himself that someday, when the strife is behind them, he could get Leonardo to paint a portrait of his beautiful Lucia and her mysterious smile.

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And the metaphors are often entertaining, especially if you've ever read a romance novel or two. Finally, some new metaphors for the genitalia of both genders - and they are funny! I don't completely understand the end of this book. I feel sure that there is something more going on in the end between the Shadow Man, Lorenzo, and Lucia, than is explained. Sadly my mind is drawing a blank at the moment, other than thinking it may be referencing a religious event or two.

Certainly the changes in the city speak to a higher event, but I'll hold my pen so as not to spoil it for you. I find that I am left wondering what the real meaning of the ending is meant to be? Is it whatever we takeaway? Or are we supposed to draw parallels for different events and therefore get a deeper meaning?

If so, I'm sorry to say I failed. Apr 28, Chelsea Herondale rated it liked it Shelves: books-for-review , arcs. However, as cool as that sounds, I was not aware of this until someone, who had previously read the book, pointed it out. Which proves that this aspect of the book could have been described a lot better. I was also not completely satisfied with the characters and setting. I was constantly getting confused and had to re-read a page several time before wrapping my head around it.

I got confused with who is who and what character is on what side. By the end of the book, this was resolved slightly but I was still not happy with the way things were explained. This writing style also left me confused and at some points I felt as though nothing was happening but at other points I thought too much was happening.

Overall, this book was okay but could be improved. I feel as though a first person point of view would have been less confusing but appreciate the way the book has been written all the same. Apr 30, Paul Decker rated it really liked it. Is it really an alternate history? Or is it somehow a future world rebuilding the past? When a book brings forth so many questions in the reader's mind, it is either super frustrating or awe inspiring.

This book is the latter. I wanted to know so much more than was on the page. The second half of this book does take a turn for a different vibe, though. It is strange.