Everything You Know About the Chinned
Prince of Foxes
by Samuel Shellabarger
Recommended to people who enjoy Dumas' Three Muskateers, which I love.

So far, (page 12) it's looking pretty good. An unpublished Dumas novel was recently discovered, and everyone is raving about it. I can't wait to read the translation (whenever that comes out) but apparently it's the conclusion of a trilogy. It was while trying to find the names of the first two novels (it seems that perhaps The Companions of Jéhu is the first one)that I came across Shellabarger, who wrote in the 1940's and '50's. I'll write more, but so far it looks very promising, and there are at least three more novels by this person.

Finished it, loved it, here's what I thought:

Foxes is an overwhelmingly nice book. It was written in the late 40's, and it really shows. It's set in Italy, in 1500, but even the most evil characters have the honor and moral compass of Jimmy Carter. The book is supposedly about the main character, Andrea Orsini, who undergoes a change of heart and discovers that Honor and Loyalty and Being Nice are the only true goals in life, and that he should give up Lies, Deceit and Trickery. At the start of the novel he spends a great deal of time laughing at honor, and talking about how only money can buy his loyalty, &c. By the end of the novel, he give elequent speeches about how fihgting and dying for an ideal is the most noble hope of &c. &c. The only problem is that, underneath the rhetoric, there is very little change from start to finish--for all of his sneering, he was impeccably honest from the very start. The villain, Ceasar Borgia, is depicted as a monster of ruthless cruelty, and yet (although he talks pretty mean) all he ever does is attempt to blind Orsini as punishment for disloyalty. Borgia's right hand man, the evil Count Rodrigo, is set up as the most sadistic, evil torturer in Italy, and he is given Orsini's Love Interest to do with as he pleases. There is much talk of her beauty, and his lewd appetites and yet, once she is in his power, he merely chains her to the wall until she will agree to marry him. I'm not really complaining, mind--I've taken to skipping the rape scenes in novels, or just closing the book altogether. However, the book was published two years after Auschwitz, and yet the evil villain is actually quite a gentlemen compared with even mordern-day frat boys. In essence, the book is Nice. All of the characters are Nice. They might claim to be evil, but deep down all they really want is to be Nice. Not necessarily Good, just Nice. You know, as you read the novel, that nothing bad will happen to anyone, and that everyone will live Happily Ever After following the final chapter.

Somehow, despite the Nice, it still manages to be incredibly engaging.
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