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Carlo Treviso
Author
Siciliana

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

A family torn apart by conflict. An uprising of deadly magnitude. A nation altered forever. Inspired by actual events, Siciliana is the harrowing tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of unthinkable turmoil. In 1282 AD, the Kingdom of Sicily is under the rule of a tyrannical French king and subject to his brutal Angevin army. Daily acts of violence and persecution are commonplace in a once-prosperous realm. For twenty-year-old Aetna Vespiri, daughter of a revered Sicilian knight, survival has become second nature. As a child, she witnessed the destruction of her family’s vineyard by Angevin soldiers and spent the next decade learning the tenets of stiletto-blade combat. Years later in Palermo, as the evening bells toll for Vespers, Aetna fends off a nefarious sergeant and sparks an uprising against the Angevin occupation. Now, standing at the forefront of an accelerating people’s rebellion, Aetna finds herself fighting not only for a nation she believes in but also for the meaning of family. In her darkest hour, this dauntless Sicilian woman steps out of obscurity and into the pages of history. The legend of Siciliana is born. Set amid bustling Arab markets and brooding Norman fortresses, Siciliana will envelop readers in the sights, sounds, and dangers lurking around every corner of medieval Sicily.
Reviews
Treviso’s engaging historical novel of revolution and revenge, his accomplished debut, deepens the Puzo-fied public perception of Sicily and its history while offering the vivid, often bloody story of the Sicilian Vespers, the epochal 13th century uprising of the island kingdom’s people—and its stiletto-mastering cavaleri warriors—against the French king and his Angevin army. At the tale’s heart is Aetna, the young daughter of one of those knights, her name pointedly suggesting Mount Etna, a Sicilian volcano ready, like the island’s oppressed people, to blow. After bearing witness to tragic violence in her childhood, Aetna at age 20 becomes the living proof of her father’s words: “We are not fearful, because we know that as Sicilians, no matter where we are thrown, we will always land standing.”

This epic telling of a story too rarely told is powered by that zeal, as Treviso vaults ahead in time, from Aetna’s childhood to the hours before Vespers–a chapter-heading timestamps add a thriller’s momentum to a novel deeply concerned with character, history, and the immersive dramatization of long-gone ways of life—but also enduring truths about courage, loyalty, and honor. Treviso proves adept at presenting vicars and generals, cathedrals and markets and a dazzling cave, and the horror and glory of fighting for what matters, as Aetna of the volcanic spirit faces overwhelming odds—and connects ever more deeply to her home and its people.

The action is crisp, clear, brutal, and frequent, and Treviso’s not shy about terror and torture: General Rochefort, a memorable villain, relies so often on a neck vise the he keeps it cinched to his belt. Readers who prefer historical fiction with less extravagant violence may be jolted by the stabbings and gaping wounds, but those who prefer martial adventure and tales of revolution, regardless of genre, will find much here to relish, tremble at, and in the end cheer.

Takeaway: This vigorous retelling of a 13th century Sicilian revolution will dazzle fans of martial historical fiction.

Great for fans of: Ernest K. Gann’s Masada, Bernard Cornwell.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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