April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.
Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the prince’s mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets even to love her or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?
Extremely well done novel with Francesco de Medici center stage
Loupas successfully carries the reader through the rough and cool cobblestone streets and dark labyrinth alleys of Florence Italy. The rush of crowds in the palazzos, the time period all seeping through vivid descriptions knitting the reader into the rustic surroundings of old world Italy.
Francesco de Medici is the cog keeping both characters and narrative moving. Francesco is cunning, villainous and genius. He is a man that loves his stature of power and control. Fascinated with alchemy, a sadist a lover of role playing, womanizer, he makes for an entertaining protagonist of focus. Francesco is a character you love to hate and hate to love. Ruthless, a leader without limits, bending minions to his will. Chiara, a young girl on the brink of womanhood. She is underestimated, savvy and smart. Feisty, however she knows when to relinquish her rebellious side and succumb to commands. Her knowledge and familial ties with alchemy serves as a catalyst to inserting herself into the de Medici clan, albeit forced. Ruan, villain or hero, a manipulator and opportunist, biding his time until revenge is accomplished. He is in a position to strike or to be struck down. Intertwining of the three protagonists generates great uncertainty keeping your full attention as well as wonderment with curiosity piqued.
Loupas out did herself combining fact and fiction, a favorable marriage. Much intrigue, mystery and speculation surrounds the de Medici’s, however, Loupas adds her fictional touch creating an enthralling read. Her research is well done and her laborious efforts standout.
The Red Lily Crown embodies power struggles, deception, adultery, torture and political agendas. Loupas incomparably created a novel with engrossing characters transporting readers to the Renaissance time period dominated by the de Medici family. Beautifully presented piece of work engaging peruser with the turn of every page. Highly recommend.