When I started The Master of Verona, I had no intention of reading a 560 page book in three days. I had other things to do. I read the book instead. The book's scope of topics is as broad and intricate as a medieval tapestry; just when you think you've seen it all, Blixt draws your eye to a new detail as compelling as the last. There's Pietro, son of Dante, learning to become a knight under the shadow of his famous father. There's medieval Italian politics as vicious as anything you see on The Sopranos. There's great female characters like Antonia Alighieri and Katerina Della Scala using words as devastatingly as the men use swords. There's the historical figure of Cangrande attacking a neighboring city in a battle sequence as vivid as those you find in Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books. There's a horse race that makes a NASCAR crash look tepid and a duel that only a writer who's also a fight choreographer and swordsman himself could write. Blixt also throws in a mysterious child, assassination attempts, oracular prophecies, and a villain as curiously loathsome as one from Dickens or Dumas. All of this should collapse into an unreadable mess, but Blixt's well-honed prose, characters, and narrative line turned it instead into my favorite beach book of summer 2007. Oh, and if that weren't good enough, throughout the book, you come to empathize with the fathers of both Romeo and Juliet and watch as their friendship turns to hate. I can't wait for his next book.