This swashbuckling fantasy is a delightful pastiche of The Three Musketeers
, a loving tribute to Dumas' era of romance. Brust succeeds, amazingly, in capturing the atmosphere, the Dumas style, and the four characters in thinly disguised form (Porthos is a female!); but far more admirable, he manages to contrive a convoluted, original plot that reveals itself in tantalizing fits and starts which would make the master proud. At the same time, his detailed world and the mannerisms of the characters remain his own. A minor flaw is that the tongue-in-cheek dialogue, with all its repetitions and exclamatives, starts to lose its edge and resemble Woosterian farce. I would have enjoyed this book more, I'm sure, were I not a stranger to its fantasy world. Brust has written a whole other, earlier series set there which I haven't read. Even so this was one of the most enjoyable fantasies I've read in a while.