Wavered between 4 and 5 stars. I think this would benefit from a closer, more academic read than I could manage to give it at this time. I'm still pondering the meaning of some of what happened, because the author certainly didn't make it easy for the reader. Things were alluded to, dialogue needed to be considered carefully for meaning, stuff happened that was only partially described or explained... But the setting for the story was magnificent: a pagan medieval Europe with a strong Byzantine Empire, populated with familiar historical figures and events including my own favourite: Richard III of England.
When I first heard of this book, I thought it was going to be pro-Tudor; the Welsh dragon descending on the Wicked King Richard and putting things to right, not usually my bag at all. However, when I considered the fantasy elements that the book promised I decided I wanted to read it anyhow, so it was an unexpected bonus when it turned out to be a 'revisionist' Richard. The solution the the mystery of the Princes in the Tower is perfectly logical, if quite unexpected, and one I'm not going to write even hidden by a spoiler cut because I know it'll look totally dumb and stupid in print.
So, I really liked this book. I wish I'd read it in the middle of a long holiday, when I could have sat in the sun and read great chunks of it at a time rather than fitting it in around work and life. Perhaps then I might have been able to give it five stars rather than four. Nevertheless I thought the characters - both the historical and the purely fictional - were vividly drawn and realistic, and the setting magnificent.
I wish I could read more set in this pagan, magical Europe.