King of the Vagabonds by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Part two of the first Cycle takes a huge departure from the first book that mainly revolved around science and a richly detailed England to follow Jack, the self-styled King of the Vagabonds in this traveling adventure around all of Europe in the late sixteen-hundreds.
Include spies, a huge political intrigue, hanging out with all the lower sorts, and enough scrapes, tosses, and near-death experiences for any taste. Jack doesn't really have the ear of anyone, let alone a king, but what he does have is a talent for getting into the biggest messes.
What makes this special is not only the characters, which are a serious hoot but the amount of research and a perfect inclusion of real history and events on a scale I've never before seen. This might as well be a Masters course in history if it hadn't been written so excitingly and humorously.
I think I might have enjoyed this one even more than the first book in the Cycle, but only in terms of pure adventure and sneakily introduced economics, medicine, and a good idea about how the REST of the world lived during these times. Jack's about as low as they come. :)
I totally recommend this for Historical Fiction lovers everywhere. :)
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