The Firemaster’s Mistress was an enjoyable read, so I looked forward to reading its sequel, The Principessa. This time Dickason takes us beyond England, to a fictional Italian city-state called La Spada, apparently to the northeast of Venice. It’s two years after the events of the Gunpowder Plot, and Francis Quonyt is cooling his heels, bored, at the court of James I. A personal debt of William Cecil’s leads Francis to the royal court of La Spada, where the prince there is dying and wants Francis to do something special for him. While there, Francis meets the prince’s widowed daughter, Sofia.
For the most part, I enjoyed the plot of this novel. I didn’t really like the ending of The Firemaster’s Mistress, but I was interested in seeing what would happen next with Francis. I thought the relationship between Francis and Sofia was a little weird, though—too much misunderstanding, and not enough romantic suspense.
I always enjoy Dickason’s settings, though. Although La Spada is fictional, Dickason describes it, and its atmosphere of danger, in detail. What I liked about La Spada was that it wasn’t just another Italian city-state; it seemed to bridge the gap between eastern and western Europe. The Principessa isn’t set around an historical event, so I enjoyed seeing Diackson’s imagination at work with the plot. I was intrigued to find out how Francis would handle the prince’s bizarre request, and I wasn’t disappointed.