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City of God: A Novel of the Borgias

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A self-serving political player in sixteenth-century Rome is caught up in the ruthless and powerful Borgia family’s deadly intrigues of murder and betrayal

It is known as the City of God—but Rome at the dawn of the sixteenth century is an unholy place where opulence, poverty, and decadence cohabitate sinfully under the ruthless rule of Rodrigo Borgia, the debauched Pope Al
ebook, 185 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Open Road Media (first published 1979)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
This historical fiction novel is told from the perspective of an Englishman at the Borgia court. Despite the conspiracy and intrigue, it is strangely dry and detached and not particularly memorable.
Richard Derus
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.25* of five

This is subtitled "A Novel of the Borgias" which, when I read it in 1979, I took to mean was about the Borgias. It was more subtle than that. A book published thirty years ago, amid the Carter Malaise years, about the roiling changes and upheavals of the late fifteenth/early sixteenth century, didn't have far to go to make its political statements. The Borgias, strong and ruthless, stood against the world astride a colossal machine of churchstate that seemed invincible.

Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Betty, Misfit

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
So this isn’t really about the Borgia’s, though it takes place during the time and the Forgeries show up every so often. If you are thinking the Showtime series though, you will be disappointed.
But that doesn’t mean it is a bad book.
It is far more of a political plotting novel than anything else. The central character isn’t a full Italian and finds him caught up in the machinations that occur in the Italy of the time. Nicholas Dawson is out of place not only beca
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I do not know too much about the Borgia family, who for a while ruled over large parts of Italy but had wider desires still. Much of what I know I got from watching Horrible Histories and playing Assassin's Creed (the one set in Rome being my favorite). City of God takes you along the path of the English Nicholas, as he tries to sneak his way in the Borgias good graces.

It is entirely my own fault that it stood on my shelves for so long,
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Grand & crumbling Rome is the chorus
for the Farneses, Orsinis, the Sforzas.
See power and might
betrayal anger and fright
of one's life under the Borgias.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, netgalley
Forgive the terrible pun, but this was a very intriguing novel. Machiavelli has a cameo appearance in this book, but the form of politics bearing his name is the essence of Holland's historical story.

I am not a very sophisticated student of history so the complex 15th Century politics was a bit confusing to me. But, I enjoyed the rich setting of the court of Pope Alexander and felt the tension of walking the streets of Rome during the dangerous evenings.

Holland's main character, Nicholas Dawson,
Nerine Dorman
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, City of God by Cecelia Holland is a book I'd meant to read ages and ages ago, but have only just managed to finish. I do have a soft spot for historical fiction, and to be quite honest, I went into this one expecting more than what I got out of it.

I must mention here that I had a Kindle version that was a bit oddly laid out. There were no chapter or scene breaks, so the text really just flowed in one clump, which I found both annoying and somewhat disconcerting, because I had to catch mys
Keith Currie
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cecelia Holland writes great historical fiction and has been doing so for many decades; one of my favourite novels is her ‘Death of Attila’. ‘City of God’ was first published in 1979 and I suppose may be reissued now because of the resurgence in interest in the Borgia family. The city of God is of course Rome and virtually all the action of the novel occurs there – but God is conspicuous by his absence – everything is all too human, despite the presence of a large cast of cardinals and popes. ‘C ...more
Story: 8 (intricate and full of twists and turns)
Characters: 5 (complex but utterly unlikable)
Accuracy: 9 (generally accurate)

When writing about the Borgia popes the title "City of God" is obviously going to be heavily ironic. Borgia Rome is portrayed as a place of intense paranoia and regular atrocities, which is not too far off from the truth. The other Italian city-states aren't presented much better. Florence (whose embassy our protagonist works for) is ostensibly less tyrannical since it's
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Nicholas Dawson is the secretary to the Florentine ambassador in 16th century Rome. Having lived there for twenty years now, he is far removed from Florence, but continues thanklessly protecting the ambassador from his own indecision. However, this is the Rome of the Borgias, with Alexander VI in power and Cesare Borgia terrorising the Romagne with his army of condotierres. Nicholas is suborned as a spy by Cesare, and though his pride is rankled, he is also enamoured by the proximity of power, a ...more
The Idle Woman
2.5 stars.

I'm on a bit of a Borgia kick at the moment. Having just finished Sarah Dunant's new book In the Name of the Family, I moved on to Cecelia Holland's vision of 16th-century Rome. The Borgias are at the apex of their power, with Alexander VI on the Papal throne, his daughter Lucrezia being offered in marriage to the d'Este in Ferrara, and his son Cesare driving the fear of God into the Romagna at the point of a sword. As Italy shifts under the weight of their dominance, a sharp-eyed envo
Katka Chudá
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
City of God had all of the ingredients for a book that really appeals to me. Saying that however, I had a hard time getting in to this book; the writing wasn't up to Cecilia Holland's usual standard and at times felt uncomfortably awkward. I gave it three stars because the story was interesting and presented the Borgias in an interesting perspective. I did like it, just not as much as I expected I would.
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2014, favourites
The Borgias, especially Cesare, Duke Valentino, are among the most fascinating figures history has to offer and always make for a good story. This novel, centering on the fictional character of Nicholas Dawson, secretary to the Florentine ambassador, who becomes a spy in the service of Cesare Borgia, is another such thoroughly enjoyable piece of historical fiction that I easily read from cover to cover without ever putting it down.
Anne L Boydston
Not the best

The book was okay, slow towards the end but over all shed more light on the Borgias. The characters lacked development aside from Nicholas the main character. All and all I would say that it was a decent read but would not recommend it with all of the books out there.
I read only a sample of the book, so I will not rate it. The author needs to give the book another read through. to correct computer generated errors and to correct the personal pronoun errors. In the sample I ran across enough of these kinds of errors to know I would not purchase the book.
Ed Olivares

The story was boring, lacking any stimulus to continue reading. It presented the same perspective on the Borgias that others have done. I can not recommend it.
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Rw by: Found it unread on my bookshelf
Not much. Farfetched amateur historic novel.
Cathy Ferguson
Started off strong ...
rated it it was amazing
Aug 08, 2015
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Erin Duffy
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B. Ross Ashley
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Patricia Lynch
rated it it was ok
Aug 05, 2017
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Pen name used by Elizabeth Eliot Carter.

Cecelia Holland is one of the world's most highly acclaimed and respected historical novelists, ranked by many alongside other giants in that field such as Mary Renault and Larry McMurtry. Over the span of her thirty year career, she's written almost thirty historical novels, including The Firedrake, Rakessy, Two Ravens, Ghost on the Steppe, Death of Attila,
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