My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I thought this was better written than Gorgeous Carat and the art is more even, prettier but I'm not entirely sure I liked the history of Cesare Borgia used so loosely (though I am laughing at the reviewer who is all offended because they're Catholic. Obviously they don't know their own history. This happened, except the satanic pact BUT there were even rumors of a darkness ruling the Borgia line! Though those rumors are harder to find now that scholars have found much more reliable and favorable sources than centuries old smear campaigns) For those who don't seem to realize it, Cesare Borgia along with his sister Lucretzia and his brother Giovanni (Juan) were real. They were the bastard children of a Pope (a cardinal at that time. He fathered at least a half dozen bastards we're aware of).
In this version, Higuri goes the extra step with the negative superstition-born rumors and makes Cesare actually cursed by demonic entities, little will-o-the-wisp things that follow him around. He has a loveless childhood. The two bright lights in all of this is his sister Lucretzia (and yes there was hints of them being incestuous though modern scholars now believe that was part of the above mentioned smear campaign) and Lady Vanozza who is his adoptive mother (real mother as far as actual history knows). HIs brother, Juan, is a brat and hateful.
As they get older, and their father is plotting to put all his kids in positions of power, Cesare is taken from Vanozza along with Lucretzia and given to a hateful woman. Higuri's alternative history has Cesare nearly raped by the irate husband Cesare's father was cuckholding. He's saved by a swordsman who teaches Cesare to fight.
As a young adult things go even worse for Cesare. He leaves his father's planned path for him to be in the church (in truth, he stayed with it until he was a cardinal before being the first cardinal ever to resign). Friends turn on him. An assassin, Michelotto is sent after Cesare and things go sideways.
I know this was a very popular manga a decade ago. I wasn't that taken in by it (I only have two in my collection) I'm simply rereading it now as I purge my shelves. I can see people liking it. There are definitely homoerotic overtones between Cesare and Michelotto for those who go in for that.
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