The first book in the series (The Winter Queen) was so good that I didn't think the sequel could live up to it. I was wrong. The Shadow King is actually better. It has no dull passages at all. Though the story is somewhat less dramatic (and involves no living royalty this time), the hero---a mixed-race Dutch doctor in the 1600s---is more sympathetic. Very clever plot and imaginative use of the character Aphra Behn, who was a real person---a very early female writer.