The Throne by Franco Bernini

Filling in the blanks about one of the most famous figures of history, the story of how Machiavelli came to write his famous work “The Prince” will keep any reader of historical fiction, or fiction in general riveted throughout.

The Throne – The Machiavelli Trilogy, Book 1 by Franco Bernini, translated by Oonagh Stransky
Europa Editions
Hardcover | $30
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Everyone in the world of books knows “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli, although many of us have never read it. It is part of the Western Canon of literature and a handbook for many politicians and statesmen, although its pragmatic and ruthless advice is not universally admired. Still, it is an important tool in understanding the motivations of leaders of movements and nations.


Little is said, however, of the man who wrote it. What caused him to put pen to paper and immortalize these cynical, though effective rules of power? Who was he, personally, apart from the scribe who enshrined these harsh methods of attaining and retaining a hold on political ascendancy?


This fictionalized account, thoroughly researched, tells the story of the lowly Florentine who lived in the shadows of the great, although he was their intimate amanuensis. A low-level diplomat, a spy, a conspirator and a man struggling to stay alive and solvent: he was all these. Navigating the labyrinthine world of Italian politics in the 16 th century was a tricky business and could result in imprisonment, torture and/or death if handled ineptly. Even one’s family was not off limits in the exertion of pressure to obtain results, and Machiavelli had a young wife and daughter who provided such a lever. This added to the prospect of his own peril dictated much of what he did and whom he served, sometimes more than one master simultaneously.


Fraught with suspense, danger, complex motivations and dark proclivities this story is deeply engaging and will keep the interest of any reader of historical fiction or student of political history. It is written with a sensitivity to the mores of the time, much different than those of the present, but understandable and arguably justifiable in context. Missteps could mean death, or worse, and Machiavelli seemed to be adept at this perilous dance. Much about him and his time is revealed in a palatable stew of fiction based in fact. The best of historical storytelling. The remaining two volumes in the projected trilogy will be anxiously awaited.