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The Stars Dispose

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  137 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Set in Renaissance Florence, this fantasy retelling of the life of Catherine de' Medici is as beautiful and as richly magical as the works of the great artists who people its pages. When Catherine was born, she was the sole legitimate heir to a great fortune and great power. But her father had died before she was born, and her mother died only a few weeks afterward, ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Tor Books (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  137 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
While this book was filed in the fantasy section, it falls more under the historical setting than anything. But no matter what genre it's considered this is definitely one to read. From the servants' quarters to the ruling families of late-Renaissance-era Florence, Italy, this story follows the early life of Catherine de'Medici and her family during this tumultuous times. The story is told primarily through the eyes of a young boy, Tommaso, the son of the cook in the Ruggiero household, a family ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Stars Dispose is a sumptuous feast of a novel set in 1500s Florence, told from the perspective of the artistic apprentice chef Tomasso. Tomasso's family has long ties of loyalty to both the Medici aristocracy and the astrologer and physician Ruggiero, who also moves in halls of the powerful, trying to influence events. Ruggiero often says, "the stars dispose, they do not compel," and this is true how magic and the otherworldly in this novel influence the edges of things but rarely exert ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cara by: Kev McVeigh
The Stars Dispose is more than just an historical novel set in Florence in the early 16th century; it has at it's heart the magic of the strega, Italian witches. This, combined with alchemy, underpins the events detailed in the novel; the political machinations of the de Medici and their enemies, plague and the siege of the city. Michaela Roessner's research is impeccable, mixing fact with the lives of her characters and producing a novel that is, in my view compelling reading.

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Jul 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantasy retelling of the life of Catherine de Medici, through the eyes of the servants (mostly chefs) who work for the great families of Florence. The descriptions of food are the most mouth-watering that I've encountered in literature in years. The fantasy/occult elements grow more prominent as the story goes on, which could be a problem for some readers. Also, there's not much closure, probably because the story continues in The Stars Compel.
Kat Heatherington
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
richly detailed historical fantasy with a good healthy dose of witchcraft. i adore these books.
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've always liked this book, but don't read it when you're hungry!

It's the first in a trilogy, I think.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alltimefavorites
The Medici through the eyes of the families that take care of them, the kitchen staff and their cats...tangible and tactile story telling. A wonderful adventure for the senses and the mind.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A period of history I was glad to learn more about.
4 star because it was often difficult to understand which character was speaking or being spoken of because the names were similar and unusual for one not used to the Italian language.
Ice Bear
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
What do you get if you mix Art, History, Cookery, Politics, and Astrology .... find it here. Perhaps with a little less ingredients we could have a bit more flavour (depth).
Elaine Fultz
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
VOYA review 1998
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read from this author, and if this is anything to judge her work by, I'd definitely be looking for more.

First off, it's a foodie fantasy. I can't exactly say that food plays a big part in the plot (although the kitchen and the hearth definitely does), but food is important in that the characters whom we follow are culinary artists in their own right. I'm a big fan of fantasy novels where the writer takes the time to describe the food and the preparation thereof,
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Jeff Frane
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Stars Dispose is a marvelously creative novel, beautifully written. It begins very much as a historical novel, set in Renaissance Florence, a rich tapestry of life among the artists, guilds and powerful -- all drawn as fully-conceived characters. Only gradually does Roessner introduce magical elements and hers is a particularly arcane approach to mystic realms, vastly different from the usual tropes of fantasy, just as this Florence is vastly different from the medievalist settings of "epic ...more
Melissa McCauley
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Renaissance Florence comes alive in this story of Tommaso de Befanini, apprentice sculptor and cook who is at the center of monumentous historical events, rubbing shoulders with the likes of young Catherine de Medici and Michelangelo. Tommaso is a pawn in a cosmic game his mother and Ruggiero are playing with sorcery and astrology against the forces of darkness. A cat and her litter of special kittens are integral to the magic and the plot, which I loved. However, I think a lot of readers will ...more
Apr 26, 2014 added it
A good book, worth reading. Something about it is uneven, although I can't put my finger on it—the pacing or the focus or some other nebulous thing like that. But it is written well, sometimes even beautifully, with plenty of sensual description.

This may have been the first fantasy I encountered with a queer (as in gay or bisexual) major character. I've always counted that in its favor not only because hey, it was about time, but because it was done well—sensibly, sympathetically, believably, in
Kelly Horn
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully researched, the setting (historically, geographically, architecturally) is brought to life and peopled with characters both real and imagined. Rich with cultural details but imbued with supernatural elements, this is speculative fiction at its best. Really enjoyed the main character's journey from childhood to young adulthood and seeing the depth of detail in the life of artists and cooks, all set against the turmoil of 1400s Florence.
Mar 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
Way too many characters to keep track of...maybe will try it again sometime in the future.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
So richly imagined -- really well written. It's been a while since i read this, but in picking up John Saturnall's Feast, I was reminded of this novel and had to look it up.
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Michaela-Marie Roessner-Hermann is an American science-fiction writer publishing under the name Michaela Roessner.

Born in San Francisco, Michaela Roessner was raised in (successively) California, New York, Pennsylvania, Thailand, and Oregon. Trained as a visual artist, she holds a BFA in Ceramics from the California College of Arts and Crafts and an MFA in Painting from Lone Mountain College, and