Book Tour Review: A Thing Done by Tinney Sue Heath

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Title: A Thing Done
Author: Tinney Sue Heath
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 320 (ARC edition)
Published: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3.5/5

In 1216 the noble families of Florence hold great power, but they do not share it easily. Tensions simmer just below the surface. When a Jester's prank-for-hire sets off a brawl, those tensions erupt violently, dividing Florence into hostile factions. A marriage is brokered to make peace, but that fragile alliance crumbles under the pressure of a woman's interference, a scorned bride, and an outraged cry for revenge.

At the center of the conflict is Corrado, the Jester, whose prank began it and who is now pressed into unwilling service by both sides. It will take all his wit and ingenuity to keep himself alive, to protect those dear to him, and to prevent the unbridled ambitions of the nobles from destroying the city in a brutal civil war.

Venturing into the fertile field of medieval Italy, Tinney Sue Heath's novel is a careful and detailed look at one of the most famous feuds and vendettas, hailing from the city of Florence. For my taste, I thought A Thing Done could be a little too focused on minor details, like clothes or the set up of a nobleman's room, and occasionally came off a bit flat in the narration. However, overall, this was a solid historical fiction effort that kept my attention. It certainly doesn't hurt that the plot of the novel is fascinating, and based on historical fact, as are the majority of the characters. Focused on the beginnings of the infamous and long-lasting Guelph/Ghibelline struggle in Italy, A Thing Done is a novel about love, vendettas, and history.

I could tell from the great first line of the novel ("It was a fool that began it, but it took a woman to turn it murderous") that the narrator of the novel was going to be one I liked. Corrado is a fool, both for his profession and also in some of the things he does over the course of the novel. He was smart, likeable and forthright, all the while making being manipulated into tense situations and bad decisions. It's easy to root for the little guy, and in A Thing Done, it doesn't get smaller than Corrado. Heath does a good job of presenting a nicely flawed main character with the Fool; he may have to juggle the machinations of two great lords without the other knowing, but his personality was well-defined from the start. An unwilling participant in the feud between Great Families, this working-class peasant is in an untenable situation from the first page and his journey to be free of "the people with surnames" (as he calls the nobility) and their endless scheming is both tense and engaging.

The beginning was admittedly the toughest part for me to get involved in. There are a lot of families, names, factions and agendas flying around Corrado and his friends; sorting out who is who and who wants what can take some time. By about 75ish pages in, I had adjusted to Corrado's sometimes dry attention to detail and figured out the main plotlines and characters at play. For those reasons, it's a bit slow at the start, but the rest of the novel is more than worth the time it takes to get a grip on the various Donatis, Buondelmontis, Ubertis, Fifantis, and Amideis running rampant with plots and maneuvers. Corrado's role as unwilling accomplice to each (unknowing) party makes for an itneresting back and forth between the two major factions, and  helps to illustrate how much this minor insult turned a city on its head and instigated a major feud.

Tinney Sue Heath has more than proven she knows her history very well with this novel. Replete with a large cast and detailed plot, A Thing Done goes to lengths to provide a fulfilling, if short, glimpse into Florentine life in 13th century Italy. It may not be the asiest novel to get into, but the journey and end payoff are more than worth the few hundred pages it takes to conclude. The denouement was a bit abrupt, but serves adequately to wrap up the lives and tales of the story's most prominent, surviving, characters.


Monday, January 14
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Author Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 15
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, January 16
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, January 17
Review at The Book Garden

Friday, January 18
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria

Monday, January 21
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, January 22
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Judith Starkston’s Blog

Wednesday, January 23
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 24
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, January 25
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

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