Very satisfying grand fantasy that has strong dialogue and plot that kept me engaged.

I actually started this book two years earlier, but kind of paused it after the prologue and the first chapter. When I traveled to Italy this month, it seemed like a prime moment to pick it up again. It had been some time since I submerged myself in a grand secondary world, especially one modeled after Italian city-states. Traveling through Italy made the story extra immersive.

I noticed that this type of epic fantasy seems to put great amounts of effort into building and conveying a world, but that the inner life and struggles of characters is slightly neglected. In contrast, couldn't we consider novels with more internal struggles as a "tell" (from the "show don't tell"-rule)? After all, there might be few ways to "show" what someone is thinking.

The book very much feels like an amazing tabletop roleplaying game, where the characters fall from one urgent matter into the next, because the dungeon master must tightly plot the engagement of their players.

The universe is rich and the characters are satisfyingly smart and capable. I slightly dislike the cookie-cutter TTRPG elements of the plot, but the entertainment value ultimately makes up for it. I'll be reading the next book in the Gentleman Bastard series.