Fools' Gold by Philippa Gregory

Tanuki wouldn't hold still for a pic, so I got his back legs instead.
Tanuki wouldn’t hold still for a pic, so I got his back legs instead.

Why I Read It: This series, Changeling and Stormbringers, has been fun so far, so had to check out Book 3.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you’re looking for a light historical fiction on Venice, money forgery, & religion, check this book out.

Narrator: Nicola Barber

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 9 hours 47 minutes

Series: Book 3 Order of Darkness

Author’s Page

Book 3 picks up where Book 2 left us. Our little crew of Frieze, Isolde, Luca, Brother Peter, and Ishraq have orders to go to Venice, pretend to be a wealthy merchant family, and seek out forged coins and the forgerers themselves. They end up in Venice during Carnival, the one time a year that well-to-do ladies are allowed to go out of the home. This is 1400s Italy, so plenty of rules to help a person stay proper and respectful, especially for young ladies. Early on, they learn about gambling, gondolas, and how convenient a well planned costume can be.

So if you have been following this series, then you know that Frieze was absent most of Book 2, which was one of the few things I didn’t like about it. No worries on that count with this book; Frieze gets to goof around and be at the center stage plenty in this book. His blunt country charm is well received by this reader. The odd love tangle from the last book sorts itself out, somewhat anyway, in this book and such silliness doesn’t get as much screen time (which is fine by me). Over all, I felt this book was better than Book 2, and perhaps better than Book 1.

In carrying out their mission, Luca and crew come upon a pair of alchemists. Lots of mystery surrounds these two and what they are up to. Indeed, Frieze and Ishraq get the chance to snoop through their house, and some of the things they discover are hair raising! Venice is a trade city, and one of the major things they trade is currency, such as Italian currencies for the English gold noble. During this tale, they are in great demand and play an important role in the end of this book. I liked that we got a bit of history on a specific coin, and on coin forgery.

Luca has also had a break through in locating his parents. In Book 2, he was directed to someone who could perhaps find out if his parents were still living as slaves somewhere in the Ottoman empire. If so, there was the chance to buy their freedom. This little side plot is a bit of a tear-jerker.

I feel the characters grew in this book, even Brother Peter who is always so by-the-book straight. Isolde has a moment when she must defend her good character, which has the consequence of tearing another down. Luca has the drama with finding more info on his parents. Ishraq has to face the confining culture of Venice which requires young ladies to basically stay at home unless at church or escorted to another lady’s house for a visit. Frieze….well, he had to stable his best buddy Rufino the horse outside Venice for the duration of the book, which was very hard on the lad.

My one criticism is that for much of the book, when any two or more ladies were talking together, it was about a man (usually Luca). Sometimes, this was fighting over the man. It was silly. Women do talk about more than men when they get together, and considering the new culture for our main ladies (that of Venice) and the mysteries of the alchemists, there was plenty for them to talk about.

Narration: Nicola Barber was an excellent choice for this book, as she was for the previous book. She does Isolde’s voice perfectly, with the right notch of a high-born lady, plus the wonder of youth. Ishraq almost always has a questioning tone, as fits her nature. Brother Peter is so very stern. Luca and Frieze are done quite well, and with distinct voices.

What I Liked: The Venician setting; learning a little about coin forgery as I read; the alchemists’ lair was interesting and spooky; Brother Peter bent a bit to help his young charges and I found it to be one of the most hilarious and yet moving scenes in the book.

What I Disliked: The ladies pretty much only talk about men when it is just them, which didn’t seem realistic considering their surroundings and mission.

What Others Think:

The Sweet Review

Book Referees

2 thoughts on “Fools' Gold by Philippa Gregory”

  1. I’ve read quite a lot by this author. I enjoy her style. Not noticed these books although I do remember your previous reviews – just not seen them around.
    Lynn 😀

Comments are always appreciated, so don't be shy!