Legacy of Deceit—Unraveling the Mysteries of Navola

Published 26 Mar 2024
by Anca Antoci

Title: Navola
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Released: 09.07.2024
Buy from Amazon
3.75 (read)
Our review:
4.00 (read)

Today, I’m reviewing an ARC provided by NetGalley that boldly compares itself to Godfather and Game of Thrones, and it delivers on that promise. I have to admit; it was the cover that stopped me from scrolling. Look at it! It’s stunning. But don’t jump to conclusions about dragons and magic in the midst of political intrigue. If you manage your expectations, you won’t be disappointed. To start, let’s look at the book’s synopsis.

Book description from the back cover

From the New York Times best-selling author of Wind-Up Girl and The Water Knife comes a sweeping literary fantasy about the young scion from a ruling class family who faces rebellion as he ascends to power.

"You must be as sharp as a stilettotore’s dagger and as subtle as a fish beneath the waters. This is what it is to be Navolese, this is what it is to be di Regulai."

In Navola, a bustling city-state dominated by a handful of influential families, business is power, and power is everything. For generations, the di Regulai family—merchant bankers with a vast empire—has nurtured tendrils that stretch to the farthest reaches of the known world. And though they claim not to be political, their staggering wealth has bought cities and toppled kingdoms. Soon, Davico di Regulai will be expected to take the reins of power from his father and demonstrate his mastery of the games of Navolese knowing who to trust and who to doubt, and how to read what lies hidden behind a smile. But in Navola, strange and ancient undercurrents lurk behind the gilt and grandeur—like the fossilized dragon eye in the family’s possession, a potent symbol of their raw power and a talisman that seems to be summoning Davico to act.

As tensions rise and the events unfold, Davico will be tested to his limits. His fate depends on the eldritch dragon relic and on what lies buried in the heart of his adopted sister, Celia di Balcosi, whose own family was destroyed by Nalova’s twisted politics. With echoes of Renaissance Italy, The Godfather , and Game of Thrones , Navola is a stunning feat of world-building and a mesmerizing depiction of drive and will.

My review

In the bustling city of Navola, Davico DiRegulai finds himself the reluctant heir to a legacy steeped in deceit and brutality. Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Navola” draws heavily from the intrigue of Italian Renaissance politics and culture, crafting a world brimming with meticulous detail and an ambiance tinged with both warmth and danger.

Bacigalupi’s writing is pure magic, transporting you to a world full of sunshine, beautiful scents, and constant danger. While the storyline may feel somewhat familiar—a son grappling with the burden of his father’s legacy and a forbidden love interest—the author a myriad of side characters to life, adding an authentic touch to the narrative.

Yet, as the tale unfolds, the focus on political machinations sometimes overshadows the personal journey of the protagonist. It’s in this aspect that “Navola” falls short of its potential, leaving readers yearning for a deeper exploration of Davico’s inner struggles.

Sadly, the second part of the book is marred by pacing issues and a plotline that becomes somewhat predictable, with the anticipation for the dragon’s eye building until the very end. The unresolved plot points could potentially be resolved in a sequel, but the abrupt ending is disappointing.

If you seek a conventional fantasy filled with magic and mystery, you may be let down, as “Navola” focuses more on human behavior and political schemes. However, if you’re willing to embrace its complexities, you will find yourself immersed in a richly drawn world, brought to life by Bacigalupi’s masterful storytelling.

In summary, “Navola” is a testament to Bacigalupi’s prowess as a writer, albeit with a few missteps along the way. While the journey may falter in its final stretch, the promise of a sequel offers hope for a more satisfying conclusion.

Our final verdict: