This was a brilliant book, which is what I expect from Guy Gavriel Kay. It is set in a world that he has used before, but in a different time and place. This time, the novel is set in his world's equivalent to Renaissance Italy. It is very close to our own history, but the location names are different, and there are other clues that make it clear that this is not our Italy.
This not-quite-Italy is filled with intrigue. There are many characters, and it is not easy to sort out the good guys from the bad guys (or the good women from the bad women, this author does not discriminate – he lets a female character be just as villainous as the male characters.)
It took a while to read this book, which I expected. This is partly because of the complexity of the story, which is common for this author. Mostly though, it is because he writes so beautifully that I strongly feel that a Guy Gavriel Kay novel should never be rushed. I read his books slowly because I treasure every word.