Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Temple of Light by Daniela Piazza

"The Forest, Duke Giovanni Maria's favorite hunting grounds, was cloaked in the thickest darkness. A thin fog rose from the castle moat, shrouding the band of armed men, making them almost invisible, furtive specters in the dark. Not a star shone in the sky." Opening Paragraph

Synopsis: On the brink of death, the Duke of Milan entrusts his only heir to the church, which is guarding a thousand-year-old secret

It is the early fifteenth century, and the Italian peninsula is ravaged by war. While Milan fights for its political and economic life, Duke Filippo Maria Visconti lies on his deathbed with no heir to succeed him. But the old nobleman has a secret: He has a son.

Visconti hands over the one-year-old child to the archdeacon Onorio, who agrees to keep him safe. Little does young Niccolò know that when he comes of age, he will inherit the great Visconti fortune and become the city’s next duke.

Years later, in the shadows of a new cathedral, the members of a secret brotherhood practice alchemy and plot court intrigues, working to fulfill the ancient prophecy of the goddess Belisama. The brothers, sustained by blind faith, will do whatever it takes to achieve their Grande Opera, but first they need peace in the city, and Niccolò is the only one who can help. But when he starts to witness mysterious rites and killings, Niccolò will be forced to reconsider his destiny.

Author Daniela Piazza has written a beautiful novel about the construction of the Duomo di Milano and all the famous persons in the era. The noble Visconti family is in constant battle with other families of the era. Numerous political maneuvres, romantic liaisons, and a centuries old secret are at the heart of this story. The main character is a young man named Niccolò who has been raised by a group of monks. Only a few know who he truly is, and he must guard the secret of his true identity or his life is at risk. He knows that when the time is right, he will take his real place in the world. 

Daniela Piazza has taken historical detail, real personages of the 15th century, and a touch of fantasy, and weaved them seamlessly together in this brilliant, sweeping new novel. Well developed characters, both good and villainous, made the story very enjoyable for me. The plot had constant twists and turns that kept me guessing. It was also fascinating to read all about the financial troubles faced when constructing the cathedral that still stands today, and which I have visited several times. Terrific descriptions, an unforgettable storyline, and compelling characters make this a book you must read. I loved it! Definitely recommended for everyone who loves Italian history. 

Amazon USA     Amazon Canada     Amazon UK