Very "visual", scenic settings employed by Mr. Keyes, his episodic novels (Part One and Two) keep three, sometimes four plots together in a tight, page-turning, narrative. Dialog is somewhat more stiff, and a bit less plausible, but at least it doesn't get in the way. The characters very well delineated, Newton comes off as cantankerous, aloof, and obsessive as he probably was. Blackbeard is like every schoolboy's pirate fantasy. Some of the other characters, the Venetian Riva, for instance, seem to be drawn from life. There's message and moral here, too: all the classical stuff, hubris as the cause of downfall, redemption through love; oh yes, and Mr. Keyes seems to be making the historical point that the vaunted "Age of Reason" was not all it's cracked up to be in the history books, since if they had possessed a powerful science (like ourselves), they might have plunged the world into a deeper chaos than our much-abused 20th century.