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A Question of Loyalty

A Novel by Jody Pike

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“Lo strazio e ‘l grande scempio

Che fece l’Arbia colorata in rosso.”


“The great massacre and slaughter

that colored the Arbia red.”


Dante, Inferno, X, 85–87



A Guelph murder brings about exile for the Ghibelline aristocrat and scholar, Farinata degli Uberti, shattering his effort to create peace in the increasingly fractious and troubled city of Florence. Banished from his city of birth, his plans to study in Bologna thwarted, he leads the Ghibellines to Siena. Intent on pursuing his study of Epicurus, he refuses to join Siena in her gathering conflict with Florence. But when he finds himself in love with Biancia, a Sienese noblewoman, his academic commitment is challenged by her pleas that he become involved in Siena’s complex political intrigue. For her sake, he agrees to enjoin the war against Florence. Assailed by a cunning deception and involved in complex military stratagems, he is compelled to face his own inner struggles on the field of war. His decision will change his life.



"Reading Montaperti is like going on a study abroad program to the Middle Ages. Jody Pike leads you on a full immersion journey into the language, the atmosphere, the intrigue, and the excitement of thirteenth-century Italy. As with all great travel experiences, you'll never want to come home."


"Jody Pike's debut novel, Montaperti, is an engaging story of the fierce battle between Florence and Siena as they compete for dominance in thirteenth-century Italy. As the bloodiest battle in history rages, historical figure Farinata degli Uberti must resolve to which city he owes allegiance and rely on his principles despite a cruel deception. Pike's detailed knowledge of Italian history, music, and philosophy make this a most enjoyable read."

- Coert Voorhees, author of The Brothers Torres and On the Free

- Judith Whitmore, best-selling author of Come Fly with Me

In The Press



Jody Pike earned degrees in medieval history and music from Stanford University and Occidental College. She fell in love with Siena over thirty years ago while touring Europe with Vox Feminae, a group of early music singers. In the decades since, she has returned to Siena every year, living within the city walls and immersed in the rich history and culture of Siena.


She hopes that in dramatizing this extraordinary battle, others can come to know and find a deeper appreciation for Siena’s medieval history. Jody lives in San Juan Capistrano, California, and continues to spend as much time as possible in Siena. Montaperti: A Question of Loyalty is her first novel.



     My husband and I have been blessed with deep friendships in Siena, friends without whose kind and generous opening of their hearts and lives, Montaperti, A Question of Loyalty, could not have been written.  
     Siena’s treasure is her people. Their unique spirit is found in their passion, love for and profound knowledge of Siena, and in their loyalty to their families, their contradas (neighborhoods) and to their city. This extraordinary fervor is played out in the incomparable Palio horserace, whose twice-yearly running draws loyal Sienese from all over the world.
     Where in the world do we find a horse race, run on an admittedly dangerous track, that lasts  approximately two minutes, draws over 50,000 people, and awards the winner  a flag, the Palio banner, which is paraded on the streets by the winning contrada? Where else, at any time of the year, as walking the streets of Siena,  can you hear and see drummers and flag bearers in their contrada centers practicing their routines for the Palio competition? Older boys teaching the younger. Sometimes a grandmother sits with her knitting, observing and offering suggestions.  Occasionally a father will pass by and smile.
     Where did Siena get its name the City of the Virgin?  What is the cart, the “carroccio” that heads the parade before the Palio horse race? What significance has it? 
     It is hoped that Montaperti, this unique battle, might suggest  answers, and an insight into the unequalled and magical city that is Siena. 


-Jody Pike




  • Suzanne Becker, Drawings and Illustrations

  • Sienese Friends & Librarians

  • Writing Group

  • All those who helped in every stage of completing the book

For any inquiries, please contact:

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