Book Review: The Diplomat of Florence: A Novel of Machiavelli and the Borgias by Anthony R. Wildman

Genre: Historical fiction
Pub date: 16 November 2020
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Florence, 1498. The long rule of the Medici is over and a new regime has emerged from the turbulence, a genuine republic of the people. But Florence is weak and threatened by a new warlord who is rampaging across central Italy—Cesare Borgia.

Niccolò Machiavelli is young and inexperienced when he becomes second secretary of the Florentine chancellery, but he is destined to become his city’s leading diplomat. As tries to counter the Borgia threat, Machiavelli is plunged into the grim realities of power politics, negotiates with kings and popes, and learns that no one can be trusted. 

I didn’t know much about Machiavelli but was intrigued by the description of this book, especially the mention of the Borgia’s after recently reading Samantha Morris’ Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia: Brother and Sister of History’s Most Vilified Family.

The book begins with Machiavelli as a young man finishing his studies and securing a role as a secretary for the Signoria of Florence.

As Machiavelli’s experience increases he is given further opportunities including diplomacy trips to the court of France and eventually to meet with Cesare Borgia. Throughout his life he becomes highly respected and meets some fascinating individuals like Da Vinci and Thomas Cromwell but he also makes enemies along the way.

This was a fascinating depiction of Niccolo Machiavelli and whilst I am aware it is historical fiction and parts are based on the imagination of Wildman it is clear a lot of research has been done to write this book and I found myself drawn in to the conspiracies and events Machiavelli faces.

Individuals are brought to life and I really liked Wildman’s version of Da Vinci and Cesare Borgia. Da Vinci came across as a loveable character and Borgia as an insecure man using confidence to hide his fears.

My knowledge of Machiavelli prior to this book was very limited. I was aware he was a diplomat and author of ‘The Prince’, due to the phrase ‘Machavellian’ I was expecting a ruthless and sly individual. Machiavelli actually comes across as a lot more caring than the phrase indicates which was a pleasant surprise.

For anyone interested in this era I’d really recommend this book, I couldn’t put it down and am looking forward to reading more from Wildman.

Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the advanced copy.

This will be my last review of 2020 so thank you to all those who continue to read and visit my blog. I wish everyone a fantastic 2021 and will see you in the new year with more book reviews!

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