It is rather rare that one reads a first novel that is this good. Quite frankly its rare to read such a novel from an author of any experience. Taking inspiration from Shakespeare and Dante is not exactly a easy task. The fact Blixt is a Shakespearean actor probably helped on that fomer front but mixing it with Dante was brave in extremis.

This lush tale of city state squabbling in what is now Italy mixes romance, historical warring and mysticism with good result. Despite its almost 600 page length there is no hint of dragging or fluffing the plot. The author that most came to mind whilst reading this book was Umberto Eco. Blixt shares Eco’s ability to make a complicated and intricate plot flow well enough to keep one interested right until the bitter end.

The book is well researched and works on the left of historical novel; as well as its Shakespeare echoes. Knowledge of the ins and outs of the play is not necessary to enjoy this glorious novel.

I dare not tell you too much of the plot lest I ruin it for you. I will say it involves Dante’s son and much machinations both political and of the heart.

I enjoyable novel from start to finish. A must read for those who enjoy well crafted, intricate and complicated fiction. Yes, it might be a bit of a tome and hard to read in bed; but its well worth the minor discomfort.

One of the best novels I have read in a very long time.

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