Gripping !!! I gave this book 5 stars because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's like a wonderful, colourful tapestry with all the components; history, romance, adventure, travel and intrigue, skilfully woven together. The story moves at a varying pace reflecting the nature of the scenes; some passages are exciting and fast and some are slowed to allow the reader to savour more delicate themes. The title says 'Book 1' - it is truly an excellent introductory scene-setter with the characters, their backgrounds, timelines and landscapes taking form nicely and I cannot wait for the next volume !!! A super read - highly recommended.