The characters are very engrossing. Justin Savage is a character that is easy to relate to. He does not let his emotions rule his life. The author manages to place him very convincingly in many different societies without letting the story suffer. From the intricacies of the Chinese court to New York society in the 1850s, the story continues easily and without jumps. The women in Justin's life all seem to bring out different aspects of Justin's character and help define the sections of his life. The relationship with his half brother gives a continuity to the story that opposes Justin's relationship with the women in his life. A very good read!