The Malice of Fortune is a New York Times Best Seller

For five hundred years a terrifying secret has remained buried between the lines of the most controversial work in our literary canon, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Until now.


A junior Florentine diplomat named Niccolo Machiavelli. An itinerant military engineer named Leonardo da Vinci. And a Borgia scion who emerged from obscurity as the celebrated Duke Valentino. In the autumn of 1502, their fates collided in the remote Italian city of  Imola – a meeting of the minds that would forever alter the course of western civilization.

Part forensic murder mystery, part political thriller, and an unforgettable love story, The Malice of Fortune reveals the stunning secret Machiavelli concealed within The Prince. Based entirely on historical fact, The Malice of Fortune vividly re-creates the moment when the minds of men – and their methods of murder – entered the modern age. 



“Epic… This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, with which it is sure to be compared.” —Kirkus (starred review)

Absorbing and intelligent… Fans of superior historical mystery writers such as Steven Saylor and Laura Jo Rowland will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly (boxed, starred review)

“A hefty novel about the politics of 16th-century Italy [that] reads like a pulpy mystery… A thrilling whodunit—and a pretty good primer on da Vinci’s ‘science of observation’ as well as Machiavelli’s ‘science of man.’” —Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“Ennis is an uncommonly graceful writer and a conscientious researcher… his story zips along, a pleasure.” —Charles Finch, USA Today

“Ennis bring[s] multiple layers of authenticity to his epic novel. It’s a heady mix of “The Da Vinci Code,” Borgia politics and “The Silence of the Lambs.” Think of it as CSI: Italy circa 1502, with Machiavelli as a detective and psychological profiler and da Vinci as history’s first forensic pathologist.” —Christian DuChateau, CNN

“An intricate murder mystery and political thriller [with] a heartrending love story… Like the best historical fiction, the novel transports the reader entirely elsewhere.” —Laura Pearson, Time Out Chicago

“Intricate… rewarding… The Malice of Fortune is reminiscent of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose in that the intrigue is rich and is inextricably entwined in its world. Amid these walls of power the reader no more loses sight of the danger of the game than of the need to solve the puzzle. The novel works not just because it is a finely wrought history but because the characters are of their time while transcending it.” —Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post

“A novel that ranks among the best with the Italian Renaissance setting…. The narrative brims with minor details that convey authenticity and authority over the material…. Ennis brings the characters alive with impassioned dialogue.” —David Hendricks, San Antonio Express

“Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli join their considerable forces in this teeming historical thriller… They make an exceptional team.” —Sheryl Connelly, New York Daily News

“With its vivid, well-defined array of characters, The Malice of Fortune captures the glorious and gritty details of Renaissance Italy in a propulsive story. Ennis has achieved a great accomplishment, historical fiction that places us right into the characters’ present.” —Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Technologists

The Malice of Fortune is more than a thriller—it’s a tender love story, a grim exploration of the nature of human evil, and an immersive tour of Renaissance Italy as courageous, perceptive young Niccolo Machiavelli fights for his life against ruthless Borgia factions.  A novel written with gusto, panache, and intellectual rigor.” —Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham andDust and Shadows 

“A true masterpiece… Michael Ennis has poured the knowledge and wisdom of many lifetimes into the exquisite form of a mystery so dark, so labyrinthine.  The Malice of Fortune is stunning, terrifying, and utterly mesmerizing. I can honestly say I never fully appreciated the genius of Machiavelli, or the savagery of the Borgias, until now.” —Anne Fortier, author of Juliet

“Michael Ennis bring the Renaissance alive in this tour-de-force: The Malice of Fortune dishes out a simmering stew, thick with chicanery, bloodshed, dastardly deeds, code-breaking, puzzle-solving, and a cast of characters that includes Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Francesco Guicciardini, Cesare Borgia—and Damiata, the real-life courtesan whose brassiness, brains, and beauty dazzle even her employer and nemesis: the Pope.” —Katherine Neville, author of The Eight and The Fire

“For readers who’ve been waiting all these years for the next The Name of the Rose—here it is. Michael Ennis brings a scholar’s mind and a writer’s heart to this beautifully crafted work of Renaissance intrigue that has a rare quality of feeling ancient and modern at the same time. A powerful thinking-man’s thriller.” —Glenn Cooper, author of Library of the Dead and Book of Souls

“This is a fascinating novel, filled with extraordinary, well-realized historical characters and a plot that is engrossing and wickedly clever. The Malice of Fortune is an excellent, beautifully researched, and well-written novel that has a fine, fine sense of place. It captured my attention up front and kept me turning the pages to the very end.” —Douglas Preston, co-author of The Monster of Florence

“Intriguing [and] well-researched…Ennis, a former art-history teacher, is an expert on Renaissance Italy.  Everything in [Malice] is based on actual events and Ennis’ fictional conceit – that Machiavelli and da Vinci work together to stop a powerful serial killer – shape[s] Holmes-and-Watson duos out of historical figures.  Having Machiavelli cast in the role of what Ennis calls ‘history’s first forensic profiler’ will satisfy those who come for the period ambience.” —Booklist

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Michael Ennis

MALICE WITH NEW FACESDuchess of Milan Byzantium ad before and after cover mighty metro cover

From concept to publication, converting raw data into award-winning prose – and redefining Texas

  • Conceived, researched and wrote a series of national award-winning columns that challenged the conventional wisdom about Texas’s past, present and future.
  • Original demographic, economic, and historical research based on new internet resources and databases, as well as traditional archival records and face-to-face interviews.
  • Pioneering model of computer-assisted journalism
  • Reached an audience of one million in the state’s iconic publication, Texas Monthly.


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No Hat, No Cattle

Texas’s venerable myth, rooted in our rugged, wide-open spaces, is seriously in need of a big-city makeover.

by Michael Ennis

    Retro Texas, meet metro Texas. For generations the history-redolent mythology supposedly hardwired into every Texan’s brain has hallowed our rural wide-open spaces, even as the eastern third of the state has experienced an unprecedented explosion of urban culture. But retro Texas’s claim on our collective psyche is finally being challenged by its metropolitan alter ego. A sleeping demographic giant that has long considered itself an old cowhand is waking up to discover that it is really a city slicker….

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