January 1515 and Louis XII is dead. The newly crowned king of France, Francis I prepares to invade Italy with his eyes set on the city of Milano, but the only way there is across the Alps, a feat not attempted since Hannibal. The Venetian ambassador, Marco Diamante, promises detailed surveys that reveal every goat trail, crumbling Roman road, and jagged mountain pass in exchange for an alliance. Francis agrees. Battle plans begin and armies assemble. Marco dispatches his ruthless agent, Alessandro Dumaine to procure the maps by any means necessary.
After the murder of a local priest and an assault on his daughter, Lazzaro Dominici, a retired fencer from Genoa turned winemaker, becomes embroiled in the political intrigue surrounding the theft of the alpine maps. Facing off against contract killer Alessandro, entangles him in the French and Venetian invasion plans. What begins as a fight to save his family and bring a killer to justice becomes a personal mission affecting a war between nations.
Judge’s Commentary*: IRON WILL RUST: THE DOMINICI FENCER NOVEL by T. Elliot Cannon is a fascinating tale taking the reader into the 16th century, when intrigue and adventure ran high.
The author tells the reader in his introductory letter that he’s involved in the world of video games. Perhaps because Cannon must convey lush visuals onscreen for gamers, he has developed an eye for description and setting the reader well into each scene. Cannon writes about the time period and European settings as if he has lived them – and because he’s a traveler, perhaps in a way he has! As a reader, I felt I was riding with the characters on horseback and experiencing the violence of the time.
This author offers detailed accounts of hand-to-hand combat that felt more realistic than watching such battles onscreen. And there was plenty of eating, lots of drinking, and a good use of religious references. The reader is rewarded with realistic dialogue as well, conveying unvarnished emotions. The story has that other-worldly feel to it that I think both history buffs and fantasy readers alike could enjoy.
Overall, an excellent war story with broad appeal. Readers are sure to hope that Cannon is well on his way to publishing the next installment in the series.
- Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
- Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
- Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
- Plot and Story Appeal: 5
- Character Appeal and Development: 5
- Voice and Writing Style: 5