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In The Name of the Family

(Borgias #2)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,089 ratings  ·  474 reviews
`It is better to be feared than loved' - Niccolo Machiavelli

In the bear pit of renaissance politics, a young Florentine diplomat finds himself first hand observer on the history's most notorious family - the Borgias.

In the Name of the Family - as Blood and Beauty did before - holds up a mirror to a turbulent moment of history, sweeping aside the myths to bring alive the r
Hardcover, 453 pages
Published February 28th 2017 by Virago
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Angela M

This turned out to be the right book at the right time for me . I was craving a little historical fiction as well as a reprieve from the hangover I had from some grief filled books that I recently read. This gave me both. I give it 3.5 stars, and I can't round up to 4 stars because at times it felt somewhat dragged out. The other criticism I have is that some of the dialogue felt more modern than I would have thought.

An unscrupulous man juggling the power of the papacy and the politics of Rome
Diane S ☔
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor
Renaissance, Italy and the Borgias never fail to attract my notice. Such conflicted times, the church all powerful, the Borgias at the height of their powers. A corrupt Pope, his acknowledged children, the power they wield and of course Lucrezia. Tales of poison, excess, positioning of strengths, all enticing subjects but I had very mixed reaction to this book by an author whose work I had wonderful reading experiences in the past.

The atmosphere was lacking, many times things were said or though
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I have loved or at least really liked the Sarah Dunant books I've read in the past. So, I was thrilled to get an ARC of this novel concerning the Borgias. I did not read Blood and Beauty, which is the predecessor to this book, detailing the early years of Pope Alexander VI’s reign. This novel details his later years and the rise of his son, Cesare and daughter, Lucrezia.

The book is told from multiple points of view. Each chapter is another character and you're inside someone else’s head. Despite
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

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If BLOOD & BEAUTY is the rise of the Borgia family, then IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY marks their fall. This rather chunky work of historical fiction details Alexander Borgia in his old age, losing first power, then his grasp on reality, and finally his own life. Beautiful and cunning Cesare is being consumed alive by syphilis, and soon, Lucrezia joins him, catching it from another husband who happens to be a little too fond of prostitutes.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
When I like Sarah Dunant's books I LOVE them. I got an ARC of The Birth of Venus thirteen years ago, and I stayed up all night to finish reading it. I savored every bit of Sacred Hearts, and it became one of the books I forced people to buy when I worked in the bookstore because I thought everyone in the world should love it as much as I did. But when I don't like Sarah Dunant's books I drag my feet through them like a cranky child, and then I'm mad that I wasted my time. It was like that for me ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the second in Sarah Dunant’s series of book about the Borgias but it works well as a standalone novel. However, on the strength of this, I will definitely be adding the earlier one to my TBR pile.

Sarah Dunant injects colour and life into a cast of real life characters who were already pretty colourful.

Rodrigo Borgia, risen to become Pope Alexander VI, despite siring illegitimate children, including Cesare and Lucrezia, with a series of mistresses: ‘For all the bombast and hyperbole abou
Jo Ann
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I knew little about the Borgia family of the early 1500's going into this book, and I have not read Blood and Beauty...but this books seems to stand alone, and it's a whopper. I am always intrigued and appalled at the cruelty, lust for power - and plain lust - and moral depravity of these times. Sarah Dunant brought the Borgias - Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), son Cesare, and daughter Lucretia, to vivid life, as well as Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince. The Borgia's lives are all i ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

Having moved directly from Blood and Beauty to In The Name Of The Family, this is not so long-awaited a sequel as it will have been for many other readers. I have to admit though that given the emotional high note that Blood and Beauty concluded on, I was very grateful to have the next book on hand. Sarah Dunant is a highly skilled and compelling author with clear enthusiasm for her subject and in many ways, this novel felt less of a fo
Roman Clodia
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's April and this is firmly, absolutely, on my 'Books of the Year' list - no doubt about it at all.

Dunant's been a 3-starrer for me until her Blood and Beauty and this sequel. She's adept at getting beneath the skin of figures made bloated and almost cartoonish via the scandalous historical gossip which has fed lurid novels and TV series sold on sex'n'murder. Dunant, instead, goes back to the sources and the scholarship and has fleshed them out so that Roderigo, Lucrezia and Cesare are real p
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A longer review is available on my blog:

The characters in this book are based on true characters and Dunant attempts to keep as much as possible to the true legends of these historical people. They are deliciously evil and I read with as much glee as horror at the murderous and manipulative ways of the family that will stop at nothing to conquer as much of Europe as they can. They are the most power hungry of power hungry royals. The characters are many, c
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I stopped on page 77. Too pedestrian for me. I have put this aside for now.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This dazzling historical tale continues the Borgia epic that began in Blood and Beauty. Lucrezia is now on marriage three and is the newly minted duchess of Ferrara. Cesare is as power hungry as ever and is at the pinnacle of his career. Alexander VI is now an aging pope who is concerned about his family’s legacy. We see an introduction of a new voice, Niccolo Machiavelli, who is representing Florence’s interests but cannot help but be impressed by the machinations of the Borgia family. As alway ...more
Like her earlier novel "Blood and Beauty", this book is a novel of the Borgias.

So. Like any novel about the Borgias there is blood, death, and really nasty things galore.

I didn't think it was as good a read as the first book. It felt too disjointed. Towards the end it hops over ten years of history in one fell swoop leaving me with a "what the heck?" reaction.

The handling of Rodrigo Borgia aka Pope Alexander VI was excellently done. The character had real depth and frankly would have carried the
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Picked up as a brain candy read to take on a four day spa break, but knocked me out with its evocative supple prose and strong historical chops. Not quite the Hilary Mantel of Renaissance Italy but not far off the mark. I especially loved Dunant’s female characters and the little dashes of humour amidst the politicking, violence and scandal. I will definitely be reading more from her.
Craig Monson
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I confess to reading historical fiction partly as a diverting way to fill historical gaps and pique my interest in further explorations. Sometimes, however, I enjoy historical fiction more when I know a little bit about the topic already—which is one reason why Sarah Dunant’s latest novel was such a pleasure. This book, like its predecessors, offers a particular sort of satisfaction to those familiar with the history, the places, and the people.

Victor Hugo did not nudge Dunant over the edge and
Sarah Beth
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I received an advanced uncorrected proof copy of this novel as a giveaway on Goodreads.

This novel continues the saga of the Borgia family where Dunant left off at the conclusion of Blood and Beauty. Pope Alexander VI is now an aging man, growing frailer and more concerned with his legacy by the day. His son Cesare Borgia is as ruthless and power hungry as ever, and continues to plunder across Europe in his efforts to build a Borgia dynasty. Meanwhile, the Pope's daughter Lucrezia is now on her
Julie Ferguson
This is a novel about the notorious Borgia family. Spanish by descent and Italian later, the reader gets to know Alexander when he was pope and his children, Lucretia and Cesare.
Dunant writes a cracking pace novel with perhaps some different touches from the usual portrayals of the main characters. Lucretia was not the whore, Alexander was a loving father, if very angry at Cesare, and Cesare was a sick deranged man, probably bi-polar.
I much enjoyed the settings and depth of the characters in thi
This felt like the B-roll and cutting room floor material from "Blood and Beauty". I stuck with it for a bit over 100 pages and never got the sense that the plot was gaining any traction. ...more
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sarah Dunant is an excellent author; her research and writing style make “In the Name of the Family” a book that readers who value true historical fiction will enjoy.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I LOVED this book. I was completely sucked into Renaissance Italy and the brilliant scheming and manipulations of the Borgias. In their defense Italy during this time was a brutal, dangerous and corrupt place and they excelled at being the most brutal, the most dangerous and the most corrupt. Despite how amoral they were I found myself cheering for their success. It really is fun to be so bad! History told me that their end would be swift and decisive but it was still really hard to see all that ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I had no idea that Pope Alexander VI had multiple illegitimate children who all worked together to create the wealth of the Borgia's. They are all one in the same. This was a story of Italy and wealth and the family that I was totally unaware of. The book also includes Niccolo Machiavelli and I was unaware of his involvement too. Well written and intriguing. ...more
April Cote
This book, and Blood and Beauty, also by Sarah Dunant, are the first I've read anything about the Borgias. After watching both of the popular TV shows, I knew I wanted to know more of this family without the soap opera drama. Sarah Dunant is one of my favorite writers of historical fiction, and I was happy to see that she had written about this family and piece of history. Both books are well written, full of historical facts and just enough imagination to keep the story interesting and even pac ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Advance reader's copy courtesy Random House via Amazon Vine program

In "In the Name of the Family," Sarah Dunant tackles the ascendant years of the Borgia family in a somewhat contradictory manner. Elements of research peep through, clearly based on correspondence and other documents written by and about those near to the Borgias. These paragraphs sit in uneasy proximity to earthier passages perhaps intended to humanize the subjects they portray.

I came to this book knowing very little about the B
Mercedes Rochelle
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the sequel to “Blood and Beauty” about the fascinating and unscrupulous Borgia clan. Actually, as depicted, only the men were unscrupulous. The star daughter—the precocious, clever and beautiful Lucretia—is more of a tool in her father and brother’s hands. They make and break marriages for her to suit their political ends, regardless of her feelings. After marriage number two, despite the fact that she loved her husband, she was forced to swallow his lamentable murder and prepare he ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
redacting a star maybe-unfairly for what was left out (i am aware my standards for this are ridiculous!) and because i think her treatment of cesare toward the end is a bit lazy — also because fundamentally this + b&b are one 800-page book and should be bound as such — but, honestly, thank god this exists. she remembered the cesena event happened at christmas.
Megan Jones
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it
'In the Name of The Family' follows Lucrezia as she embarks on her third marriage, once again leaving her beloved father and brother, Cesare behind. Cesare meanwhile is off fighting for the Borgia's family and this follows a period where Machiavelli is his acquaintance. When the Borgia fortune turns it is Lucrezia who will keep the family going.
I was so excited to read this book having read a lot on them after being fascinated by the Borgia's for a long time and having read 'Blood and Beauty'.
I've enjoyed reading nonfiction books about the Borgias but I just couldn't get into this historical fiction. The present tense narration (a pet peeve of mine) switched back and forth among Lucrezia, Cesare, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) and Niccolo Machiavelli. They are certainly all intriguing characters, but by the time I abandoned the book about a third of the way in there still didn't seem to be an overriding plot making full use of these historical figures. I haven't read anything els ...more
Joseph Cognard
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Renaissance Italy and the Borgia family wrapped into a compelling novel. I knew very little about either before I started reading this book and have become much more knowledgeable from the book and the constant trips to Wikipedia I made.

Rodrigo Borgia who became Pope Alexander VI, even though he had numerous illegitimate kids.
The whole Borgia family and associates is covered as are there many marriages, murder plots, power plays, corruption, romances, wars and more murders.
Jumping between Wiki
Jan North
I am a Sarah Dunant fan and while I quite enjoyed this book I did not love it. Its characters lacked the vital spark which brings them leaping from the page. I enjoyed the rescuing of Lucrezia's reputation in history and observations about the treatment and development of the pox, the Pope emerges as a real character with his love of sardines and Corsican wine, but there were a number of sections which were a bit dull, especially all the stuff with Bembo. I enjoyed the way Niccolo's fortunes wer ...more
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was such a disappointing read. It was repetitive and often dull, despite what should of been really engaging subject matter. A basic synopsis:

Cesare is crazy, he has the pox!
The Borgias are corrupt.
Lucrezia needs to get pregnant.


Machiavelli also shows up for some dull commentary. Seriously, only the last 10 pages were interesting at all and then it jumps 10 years into the future! The first was much better - leave it at that and don't read this sequel.
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Sarah Dunant is a cultural commentator, award-winning thriller writer and author of five novels set in Renaissance Italy exploring women’s lives through art, sex and religion. She has two daughters, and lives in London and Florence.

Sarah’s monthly history program and podcast on history can be found via the BBC website.

Other books in the series

Borgias (2 books)
  • Blood & Beauty: The Borgias

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