A spectacular, elegant, brilliant portrait of skulduggery, murder and sex in Renaissance Florence. (Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard, Books of the Year). 1531 - after years of brutal war and political intrigue, the bastard son of a Medici Duke and a Half-negro maidservant rides into Florence. Within a year, he rules the city as its Prince. Backed by the Pope and his future father-in-law the Holy Roman Emperor, the nineteen-year-old Alessandro faces down bloody family rivalry and the scheming hostility of Italy's oligarchs to reassert the Medicis' faltering grip on the turbulent city-state. Six years later, as he awaits an adulterous liaison, he will be murdered by his cousin in another man's bed. Nothing in sixteenth-century history is more astonishing. (Hilary Mantel).