This was really something of a tour de force by Dunnett. I'm still certain that I missed a significant percentage of the plot, and even more of the literary, historical and linguistic allusions.
I really did enjoy this book, and will definitely read on in the series. Dunnett is a fearless writer - she didn't hesitate to put her characters (all of them) through a series of trials, some of which were downright awful. She killed off one character of whom I was extremely fond. I was, and still am, shocked at the almost casual speed of that particular death.
Someone else mentioned the women characters and how wonderfully well-rounded they were. I totally agree. I loved Lady Sybilla, especially at the end.
Dunnett also very much respected the intellect of her readers (maybe sometimes too much, from my perspective, lol). She packed the book with nuggets for the discerning reader to find. I'm sure that I missed a lot of them. She also just takes off with the story and proceeds apace, reaching a breakneck speed toward the end, when the revelations and the action are flying.
The final reveal wasn't particularly shocking to me - I think that she had set it up throughout the course of the book so that it was pretty natural. This was really a swashbuckling adventure, and not a mystery, so she wasn't so much trying to palm the ace as keep it away from the characters view for a while.
Of all of the characters, Lymond remains the most unclear to me. I still don't feel like I have a real handle on who he is - he played so many parts that he almost doesn't have a true identity. He is infinitely iinteresting, and I'd like to get to know him better.
I'm not sure when I will get to the next book, but I will get to the next book.