I found that this book was a slow start, however once I got into it, I found it to be an enjoyable read. It is the second book in the series and most of the events take place outside of Venice, where the majority of the first book takes place. The stories of the characters are continued in their fight against Chernobog. I liked the first book in the series better.
The continuation of the alternate-history fantasy begun in The Shadow of the Lion (2001) is just as vast and absorbing. The Valdosta brothers are now ensconced in the Venetian nobility, but young Benito is not adjusting well. He is exiled to the island of Corfu, where his beloved Maria has gone with her elderly husband and new baby. Meanwhile, the demon Chernobog, who is possessing the grand duke of Lithuania, has allied with the witch-king Emeric of Hungary and the Byzantine Empire to descend on Corfu, a notable site of ancient magic. The ensuing siege of Corfu takes up two-thirds of the book, and it is almost impossible to put it down while the tension remains high. Benito redeems himself, material and magical treachery nearly overthrows the islanders' resistance, characters who have become real to readers suffer and die (some of them richly deserving it), and Lackey and associates' areas of expertise, including naval history and classical mythology, are smoothly blended. Too long to be read in one sitting, but with few other "faults.
I really like this series.