I read somewhere that this novel was written as a bet. Like Ravel's Bolero, this is not an entirely bad thing. It was originally published under a female pseudonym, and for Bernard Cornwell fans this novel will be a recognized as a sharp departure from Cornwell's other works. Cornwell, whose love scenes are usually about one sentence, stretches his wings a little here. Unfortunately Cornwell also departs from his usually intricately sketched characters and strong women. I couldn't help longing for the resilience and self-reliance of Teresa Moreno when the main character of this book could only recite the Lord's Prayer as her sole defense during a witch trial. Cornwell employs his usual gritty descriptions and preserves his loyalty to historical detail, so overall I do not regret reading this. However, I'm not rushing out to get the sequel.
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