In 13th century Europe, political turmoil is the order of the day and the Fool's Guild and its agents - jesters, jugglers, and knaves to a man - works behind the scenes to manipulate events, trying to maintain a balance of power.
Theophilos, a member of the Guild known by many names, is still recovering from his last mission during which he was severely wounded and nearly lost his life but, in the person of Viola, found himself an apprentice and a wife. But there is no rest for the wicked. While he is recovering on the Dalmatian coast, the Guild approaches him with another mission. A crusade is being launched, with Venice as the staging ground, but some believe that Venice means to turn it to it's own ends. At the same time, there is trouble in Byzantine throne - a pretender to the throne is gathering European backers. And to make matters worse, all of the Guild's agents in Constantinople have gone suddenly and mysteriously missing.
So now, the newly married Theophilos and Viola must go to Constantinople to gather information, thwart the rivals of the Guild, stop the war, and maybe - just maybe - stay alive.
Having boldly appropriated Shakespeare's Feste and Viola from Twelfth Night for his well-received debut novel, Thirteenth Night (1999), Gordon returns with a cunningly plotted sequel that is sure to be another crowd pleaser. Feste the Fool and his wife, Viola, are off to Constantinople to ensure that the Crusade of 1202 sticks to its goal of capturing the Holy Land. The son of a deposed Byzantine emperor threatens to turn the Crusaders against the Eastern Christian Church in a bid to gain his throne, while certain trading interests want to divert the force to invade the Muslim empire in Egypt. Amid the sometimes confusing but never less than intriguing plots and counterplots, Feste and Viola must resort to sleight of hand, disguise and other tricks in order to unmask the assassin who's been silencing agents trying to preserve peace in Constantinople--before they themselves become victims. Gordon brings Constantinople and its environs wonderfully alive against the backdrop of the political and religious uncertainty and tension of the time. Like a master juggler, the author puts on a fine show, full of fun and surprises. While there are many medieval historicals in the marketplace, there's always room for another high quality series. An eye-catching "stained-glass window" jacket design will attract browsers.
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love this series
I have been reading this series for years and absolutely love it