The King’s Agent ~ Donna Russo Morin

To the casual observer, Battista della Paglia is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe's burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista's search for the elusive objet d'art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own . . .

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture-- a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart--and change the course of history.


Clues hide in great works of art—symbols that speak of other worldly forces—political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante’s Divine Comedy – and it is Dante’s work that holds the key to the quest.

The King’s Agent was a quick and enjoyable read. It is an entertaining historical fantasy adventure set in Renaissance Italy that centres around Battista della Palla, a rogue, cunning, quick and deliriously handsome art collector who is commissioned by King François of France to “acquire” one of the most unique and powerful art treasures known to man - a mystical relic. The quest François has sent him on requires Battista to break into a palazzo where he meets the beautiful, feisty, intelligent and mysterious Lady Aurelia, the ward of the Marquess of Mantua, who longs for freedom and who carries a great secret. When Battista’s attempt to steal the first clue from the Palazzo of Mantua goes awry it is the Lady Aurelia who comes to his rescue. Aurelia holds some valuable knowledge in regards to the piece Battista is searching for and she convinces him to take her with him on his quest. Soon the two are deciphering clues hidden in great works of art – symbols that speak of other worldly forces – political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge. As they work to unlock the mystery that mirror the passages of Dante’s Divine Comedy, they trek perilously in dark corridors, beneath castles, muddle through labyrinths, through secret doors and discover mysterious clues that lead to dark secrets.

The novel is filled with pages of brilliant descriptions and dazzling details, typical of Morin’s style. It is extraordinarily intricate and it has a captivating romance sprinkled with intrigue, adventure, gothic style labyrinths, history, art, mystery and more. I especially enjoyed the intricate infusion of Dante’s Divine Comedy – the only problem was that I found myself sometimes distracted by the story as I was dying to reread the Divina Comedia again! The novel takes us not only on a journey through Renaissance Italy but also through the Divine Comedy a treat for those who have read the Divine Comedy and even for those who have not.

The novel combines fiction with fantasy and art history with mysticism; there is romance, action, adventure, history, art, drama, danger and mystery – there is something there for everyone to enjoy.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves any of those genres or to anyone who is just in the mood for a great read. 

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