Baltasar Albueno (b. 1480, d. 1550), is the illegitimate, but only, son of a noble Spanish father and a Moorish slave girl. He is sent off to Venice with a lethal family secret, a gentleman’s education, divided religious loyalties, no inheritance, and a missing foreskin. The Ottoman Turks, North African pirates, a corrupt and expansionist papacy, and the emerging nation states of France, Spain and Portugal are all threatening the well-being of the Venetian trading empire.
A harried Venetian spymaster sees where the young man’s true talents lie and recruits him as a secret agent. Baltasar—hand-reared, home-schooled, pampered and trusting—is thrown into an unforgiving world of intrigue and warfare. In Venice he makes the acquaintance of a variety of colorful outsiders: a young nobleman and gifted swordsman with sodomite tendencies, a converted Jew and brothel owner with literary aspirations, a lovely and erudite nun of noble lineage, and an ambitious teenage courtesan who becomes his friend and confidant. Even with the assistance of such worldly colleagues, Baltasar’s reeducation and survival is in question to the very end as, with humor, self deprecation, and not inconsiderable pain, he revises his thinking about his employers, his profession, and his approach to life—and death. (Click here to read sample chapter.)
". . . historical fiction that entertains and enlightens, with just enough anachronisms and facts to link the modern reader to an otherwise inaccessible past."
"What better way to approach history than as an unsentimental tale of love and adventure told by a man who aspires to be good in a world that will make him, and those around him, pay for such hubris?"
"The main protagonist is no simple-minded Billy Budd; he has charm, wit and talents, and employs them in pursuit of selfish, but unconventional, ends. And there’s the rub."
". . . fully-developed characters of both sexes who stay with you to the end—and beyond."
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