It is 1529, the setting Venice. The Irish man Brian Duffy, a soldier of fortune finds himself the victim of a vendetta at the hands of three brothers. In order to escape, he takes the charge of an eccentric Aurelianus who sends him to Vienna to be the bouncer at the famous Herzwesten pub. The journey there is not straight forward, as he travels he encounters a number of creatures who seem to have stepped straight out of myth and legend. This mythical quality only increases as the book progresses and the Turkish army march towards them.
This is the second Tim Powers book I have read, the first being The Anubis Gates. I found familiar themes and textures here. He delights in eccentric characters, all distinctive and larger then life. Globe trotting and even time trotting is another reoccurring concept – although unlike the blurb on the back of my copy I won’t give away the central crossover between the setting of the novel and another tale. In fact, I suspect my enjoyment of the story would have been larger if this had not been writ large across it meaning that I knew the twist even before it started! The other consequence of this was rather than the reveal being almost the climax of the book, to me it felt as if that were the point when it should just be starting. A good read – I shall certainly read others of his and expect to find them just as alive as this was – only next time I will restrain from reading the synopsis!