Let me start by praising this book as a physical object. The composition, the subtle blue tones, the spot-gloss filigree, the typography: there is nothing about the cover I do not love. It caught my eye on the shelf time and time again. A good cover won't make me buy a book, but it'll certainly make me read the blurb, and that's always a good start.
The book itself doesn't--quite--live up to the gorgeous art that houses it. But it's a solid tale of adventure, solidly told. There's nothing in here that made me laugh aloud or shed tears (okay, maybe one or two at the end--but look, I've been known to cry during commercials
), but also nothing that made me roll my eyes or sigh in exasperation. The characters felt like real people, and I basically believed their arcs and motivations, although there were one or two times when I couldn't figure out why the author decided to tell rather than show an important decision point.
I know basically nothing about Elizabethan England, so I was pleased to find the politics and players mostly easy to follow. (Whether the history was accurate, of course, I can't say.) I never felt like I needed to resort to Wikipedia. I'm looking forward to reading the later books in the series, since I gather they take place during times slightly more familiar to me.