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The Enchantress of Florence    by Salman Rushdie Amazon.com order for
Enchantress of Florence
by Salman Rushdie
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

In the 16th century there was a ruler of the Mughal Empire called Akbar the Great in what is now modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and a part of northern India. Into this exotic environment walks a yellow haired Italian with the audacious claim that he is of royal blood.

The traveler gives his name as Mogor dell'Amore and commences to bewitch us and the Emperor with his storytelling skills. We receive the stories, like Akbar, with eager anticipation of each word. Of particular interest are those about his mother, Qara K÷z, a descendant of Genghis Khan who is the Enchantress of Florence.

The Enchantress of Florence is a tall tale with episodes that can only compare to those of that other master storyteller Scheherazade in The Thousand and One Nights. This genre is ripe territory for Rushdie's elabourate and effusive style. The novel overflows with mystery, fantasy, intrigue, narrow escapes, love beyond compare and the enchantment of the east. A strong order but one that never fails.

Besides the fascination of the east there is life back in Florence where 'In the beginning there were three friends, Antonino Argalia, Niccol˛ 'il Machia,' and Ago Vespucci.' Yes, this is the same Machiavelli that authored The Prince. Life in 16th century Italy is also very well depicted and there are many interesting anecdotes of the time.

Although historically correct in time and place and accompanied with a five-page bibliography of historical books and articles this is far from a historic novel but rather a romance-adventure that never fails to entertain.

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