cover image Navola


Paolo Bacigalupi. Knopf, $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-593-53505-9

Bacigalupi (The Tangled Lands) dazzles in this addictive account of the rivalries between powerful families in a brilliantly rendered fantastical world inspired by 15th-century Florence. Narrator Davico di Regulaif’s father, Devonaci, owns a rare dragon’s eye, still “burning with inner fire as if it retained life.” Davico’s obsession with the orb, which seems to trap a “flaming rage,” eventually has significant consequences. Father and son belong to one of the most influential banking families of Navola and Devonaci, who has many enemies and seeks every opportunity to “shape the politics of [the] city to his will,” hopes that Davico will succeed him as the family’s head. Unfortunately, that aspiration is imperiled by a betrayal that forces Davico to undertake a desperate flight to survive. Davico hints early on that he is not being entirely truthful with the reader, which only enhances the suspense. Admirers of Game of Thrones and Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolò series will be riveted. (July)