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For a while I thought I was going to throw this one back on the shelf. It begins slowly and the writing is not artful enough to hold a reader, even in a fascinating historical milieu, without a quicker opening to the plot. However, by the time I got a third of the way through the book, it was moving along merrily and the characters had begun to delight. The central character is engaging and attractive with wit and panache enough to make us enjoy spending time with him. Ironically, the real stength of the book is that plot which is a little slow off the mark. By the end it has proven itself fascinating and as tightly constructed as one of Master Nostradamus' logical explanations. No loose ends, satisfying twists and turns. Just enough magic to add spice. And some memorable characters all operating in one of the most interesting of all historical settings. I ended up thoroughly enjoying the book.
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