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The Fallen Blade (The Assassini #1)

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,098 ratings  ·  179 reviews
In the depths of night, customs officers board a galley in a harbor and overpower its guards. In the hold they find oil and silver, and a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Stunningly beautiful but half-starved, the boy has no name. The officers break the boy's chains to rescue him, but he escapes.

Venice is at the height of its power. Duke Marco commands the seas, taxes hi
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Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2011)
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The Way of Shadows by Brent WeeksGraceling by Kristin CashoreAssassin's Apprentice by Robin HobbPoison Study by Maria V. SnyderThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
SF/F Assassins!
36th out of 151 books — 548 voters
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick RothfussRevelations by Lindsay Anne KendalTorment by Lindsay Anne KendalA Dance with Dragons by George R.R. MartinThe Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2011
8th out of 63 books — 92 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,942)
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Anne Lyle
I was very excited when I saw this book was coming out: I love alternate history, Venice is one of my favourite cities (the book I’m working on is set there in large part), and it sounded like an interesting twist on the hoary old vampires-vs-werewolves trope. In all these respects I was not disappointed. Unfortunately it was not all moonlight and roses – but more about that later.

The Fallen Blade tells the story of Tycho, a young man of about seventeen who finds himself in early fifteenth-centu
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Dishonor
I finished The Fallen Blade a few weeks ago, and it breaks my heart to say that I didn't like it. On one hand, I didn't actively dislike it either, but it never formed a seamless whole for me.

Maybe I've fallen out of love with fantasy, and it's taken an otherwise well-written and well-conceptualized book to make me realize it. The Fallen Blade follows a number of threads in a modified historical Venice, where the dukes are descendants of Marco Polo, and assassins and alchemists have free rein. W
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Alix Taylor
Venice, 1407. The city is at the height of its powers. In theory, Duke Marco commands, but Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They seem all powerful, yet live in fear of assassins better than their own. On the night their world changes, Marco's young cousin prays in the family chapel for deliverance from a forced marriage. It is her misfortune to be alone when Mamluk pirates break in to abduct her - an act that will ultimately trigger war. Elsewhere Atilo, the Duke's c ...more
Jason
3 Stars

First off, I love the writing of Jon Courtney Grimwood. He is an exceptional author. This book is no exception, it is well written, detailed, and atmospheric. This book is a fantastic time piece and it really brings to life the 14th century.

I am not sure why I lost interest at the halfway mark, but I did. I just could not keep focused on the story from that point on and frequently found myself lost to as what I just read. I should have stopped and come back to this rather than push on.

Tha
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Gary
Well this was a switch in periods and style for J CG and he's pulled it off! I love all his other books and most are set in modern-ish times but this takes us to Venice of the 15th century and there's a vampire too! Now, I'm a sucker for historical settings especially when realised as well as Mr CG has managed here and he's brought his usual prose aplomb to bear with a great cast of characters. It's the first in a series and I'm salivating already. Highly recommended.
Tamara
I can tolerate constant, graphic sexualized violence if it has some point. I might also let it pass if it rounded out an actual good novel. Theres nothing here under the rapes and the murders and the excrement. Characters are flat, plot is boring and incomprehensible, writing bland.
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
Reviewed by Jo for Book Chick City. 9/10 on the blog.

'The Fallen Blade' has been on my to read list for a long time. I fell in love with the cover, then the title and after I read the summary I was a-goner.

Set in an alternate historical Venice, 1407, the Duke’s Cousin Lady Giulietta has been saved from werewolves and now has been captured by Pirates before her impending wedding. The only person who is capable of finding her and bringing her back is Tycho, a half starved boy with supernatural str
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Stefan
The Fallen Blade is set in an alternate version of early 15th century Venice, ruled by the Milioni family, who are descendants of Marco Polo. Jon Courtenay Grimwood offers a vividly realized fantasy setting with this not quite historically accurate but still surprisingly realistic version of “la Serenissima,” the Serene Republic of Venice. You’ll get many authentic looks at what life in this amazing city-state must have been like, from the perspectives of both the rich and the poor. As a matter ...more
Babel
Oscura, sensual, macabra y fantástica. He adorado cada página.
Bücherfresser
"Gelungenes Venedig mit einer Mischung aus viel zu vielen Charakteren und vorhersehbarer Spannung."

Inhalt:
Die Geschichte spielt in Venedig im frühen 15. Jahrhundert. Zwischen politischen Machtkämpfen erwartet Atilo allerhand Arbeit. Als Anführer der Assasinen arbeitet er meist im Hintergrund, bekommt den Auftrag gezielt zu töten. Doch er wird alt, sucht einen passenden Nachfolger. Da trifft Tycho ein, durch Venedig gejagt und als Sklave gefangen genommen bekommt in Atilo unter die Fittiche. Schn
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Magpyd
Having read the Arabesk Trilogy last year I was very excited to discover Jon Courtenay Grimwood was making his first foray in (alt-historical) fantasy.

At times I can sympathise with other readers' issues with Grimwood's style; it isn't easy at times. However, his style does brilliant articulate the inward struggles of his characters as they try to discover who (and what) they are and who they can become. The lack of definite answers, I feel, is the greatest strength of the novel. Medieval Europe
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Dee
Meh.

Actually, this is an interesting book to try and talk about, because my emotional response when reading was "this is just lacking" but once I actually try and think about "how to fix it", I become puzzled as to why it doesn't work. It seems to have everything it should - a pretty tight story focused around a collection of interlocking characters with high stakes. Also vampires, werewolves, magick and swooning maidens.

Why doesn't it work?

For me, it's because I'm just not feeling it, and that'
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Liviu
I was somewhat disappointed in this book in the sense that i expected a blow me away A++ novel based on prior experience with the author's novels (read all 10 so far) and the premise of this one - alt-history fantasy set in an Earth with some magic in the early 1400's Venice.

The book has a lot of goodies: extremely good atmosphere, you can really visualize and even "feel" the Venice of 1400;s so good are the descriptions; great vivid characters in Tycho, Atilo, Giuletta, Desdaio, Alexa and sever
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Kris43
This book made me angry. I was really hating it for a while.
The first 10 pages was amazing. I was glued to my seat and in ecstasy.

Then the pacing changed and it never got back to the way it was in the beginning.
The focus shifts from the main character and the action and for the next 150 pages gets into unnecessary details, This isn't a novel about the assassins, don't be fooled by the title. This novel spends majority of its time setting up illusive grandiose plot lines and that shift so many
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Julie Ann Dawson
I confess that The Fallen Blade is one of those books that left me rather conflicted. Atilo Il Mauros is head of the Assassini, the private enforcers of Venice's ruling family during the 15th century. While attempting to rescue the Duke's kidnapped cousin, he comes across Tycho, a young man with preternatural strength and inhuman powers. Where Tycho goes, bloodshed and death follow. But to the head of the deadly Assassini, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Grimwood excels at taking Venice and m
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Chelsea
I drive between two and three hours every day, back and forth from Long Beach to LA, with my carpool/cousin/coworker. It's a LOT of time to spend in the car, and while my car doesn't have one of those nifty jacks that plug into an ipod, it *does* have a CD player.

So what, I thought, could be better than a book on CD? What could help to dull the aching dreariness of that outrageous commute? Stopping at every single red light up and down Washington Blvd, every day?

A book on CD! A book on CD abou
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Hpstrangelove
I listened to the audiobook, which gives me a slightly different perspective of the book. The male narrator did an excellent job, especially with the female voices. It's very irritating when a narrator reads the female characters with a falsetto voice - I can hardly stand to listen.

That said - it was difficult at times to follow the plot. I had to go back and replay certain chapters before I could finally work out what was going on.

One thing that did cause distraction - the author's seeming fas
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Karlo
I've always been fascinated by Venice, so the premise of the book was enticing to say the least: Decendants of Marco Polo rule Venice and fight hidden struggles against multiple political factions of the Renaissance. Not enough? How about we add in some werewolves, witches, and maybe a vampire (or not)?

Overall the pace of the book seemed brisk; even though the plot takes place over 1-2 years. The major characters are engaging and the story takes turns I didn't expect (always a good sign). I give
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Josephine
UGH! I found the story difficult to follow because the point of view continued to switch with alarming frequency, especially in the beginning. The imagery was gorgeous and the plotline was well developed and wonderfully complex. I found myself unable to find any connection with any of the characters. I wanted to like it, but much of the character development felt one dimensional. I normally wouldn’t have bothered to write anything but I felt that my star needed a little context. I wished the des ...more
Nigel
Grimwood, who developed his style writing mean nasty cyberpunk thrillers, applies it to a mean nasty historical fantasy set in Venice in 1407. Assassins battle with werewolves over fleeing aristocratic brides-to-be, with the assassins coming off the worse, leaving the city of Venice defended in the secret war by a few surviving killers and a lingering reputation. Can the strange young man with silver hair taken from a hidden compartment in a Mamluk ship, with his unnatural strength, speed and hu ...more
Alex Tsay
(There may be teeny spoilers here)

I really liked the character of Tycho- he was mysterious and amazing. Throughout the novel I was fascinated by him and his storyline!

What I liked about this book was the darkness and the violence. There was no sugarcoating of the abuse the people went through in this novel, of the reactions people have to fear or death and most of all what powerful characters would do to anyone standing in the way of their ambitions.

Even so I found it hard to be fully involved
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Terese Damhøj
Oplagt at læse nu hvor jeg er på ferie i Venedig og i forvejen sætter pris på Courtenay Grimwoods Arabesk-trilogi.
Den er rigtig fin, en levende fortælling om et alternativt Venedig i 1400-tallet.
Fantifica
Reseña de Lorenzo Martínez · Nota: 6,8 · Reseña en Fantífica

Venecia, la ciudad ubicada en el nordeste de la península italiana, ha sido, y es, germen de innumerables historias (la más reciente, la de la saga de videojuegos Assassin’s Creed), desde ficciones históricas a ambientaciones fantásticas como la que ahora nos ocupa, con la primera entrega de la trilogía «Los Assassini». El autor británico Jon Courtenay Grimwood teje en La Espada maldita un tapiz en el que la historia y la fantasía se en
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Janice Bonczek
I thought this book was very good. The story moved along quickly, several times I had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep.

It is historical fiction, of an alternate Venice in the beginning of the 15th century. There was soo much intrigue, between most of the main characters who were trying to plot for their own gain, while simultaneously attempting to deceive each other and bring down their enemies.

Enter Tycho, a boy who is brought to the city chained in a hidden, locked compartment on
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Betelgeuse
Feb 15, 2015 Betelgeuse rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chi immagina una Venezia avventurosa e misteriosa
Recensione pubblicata su Cronache di Betelgeuse

Venezia suscita sempre un fascino particolare, poiché fornisce l’ambientazione perfetta per romanzi misteriosi. Se poi ci troviamo nel medioevo, durante l’età di massima potenza della Serenissima, allora il fasto e gli intrighi diventano all’ordine del giorno. Con questa avventura possiamo, infatti, assaporare sia il passato, con usi e costumi così particolari per questa città lagunare, sia un pizzico di fantasy, con dei personaggi al di fuori dall’
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Gordon
May 04, 2014 Gordon rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: assassin creed fans, venice-philes, werewolves and zombie crowd, twilight fans
Somewhat less compelling than I was hoping this seemed to be a grab-bag of tropes and deliberate attempts to thwart tropes mixed in with a somewhat confusing narrative style that almost seems screenplay-esque. Chapters were pretty bite sized, which I normally like, but there were several sharp POV and scene cuts that leave you floundering spatially, temporally and perspectively. Not quite as bad as Erikson but still.... The feeling was very much movie or TV-like and not a good flow. I don't reca ...more
Unwisely
I stumbled across this when I was trying to remember the alternate history series it turned out was written by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. (The books are the Arabesk Trilogy and I remember loving them...but it was before I started logging my books, so I can't prove it. Start with Pashazade.)

Having figured that out I got out the only book my local library had by him, which was this one. I knew nothing about it going in. Not too far into it, I checked the year published, because despite having never r
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Greg
Jon's historical "vampire" assassin fantasy is something rightly seductive. Set in 15th century Venice, a place both spooky and beautiful, against a backdrop of politics and power struggles is a story driven by the desires of the characters to be free. Everyone in the novel is trapped by who they are, where they are by their desires and responsibilities. All of them struggle for a kind of freedom and have a dignity to them, well ag least those that have some kind if morals.
The Fallen Blade is
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Ithlilian
Sep 28, 2012 Ithlilian marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I was thinking of what to write in my review while laying in bed at 8am this morning. It's now 3pm, and I've forgotten all of that.

The Fallen Blade is basically medieval fantasy meets werewolves and vampires. Not in an exciting Urban Fantasy type of way, in a boring drawn out fantasy way. Each chapter switches characters and switches time frames. It's a bit confusing at first, since not everything is spelled out for you. I read one section over and over wondering what they were doing to the girl
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109005
'Tough, sexy and brutal, but leavened with sharp humour... Grimwood is a name to watch.' The Times

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. Apart from novels he writes for magazines and newspapers. He travels extensively and undertakes a certain amount of consulting. Until recently he wrote a monthly
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More about Jon Courtenay Grimwood...

Other Books in the Series

The Assassini (3 books)
  • The Outcast Blade (The Assassini, #2)
  • The Exiled Blade (The Assassini, #3)
Pashazade Effendi Felaheen End of the World Blues Remix

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