Nicholas Fouquet---a man associated with extraordinary rise and fall, secret societies and (rightly or wrongly) the Man in the Iron Mask. To be able to read a book that explores his downfall set against the religious and political turbulence of the time was a real treat and I enjoyed every moment spent with the book.
The other characters are just as intriguing: the dying Cardinal Mazarin and his spoiled nieces, the conniving Colbert, Anne of Austria at the end of a tumultuous reign and her son Louis XIV, a young king both arrogant and unsure of himself, easily manipulated even as he tries to enforce his will.
The worldbuilding is excellent, I did feel as I was transported to those times and the language beautiful though I'm sure if I read it in its original French, I would be even more enthralled.
My own quibble is regarding the secret society having been plotting for centuries and yet unable to counteract the threat to their emissary to the King. At certain points, it was frustrating to read about men who were so brilliant and careful misjudging the situation so badly. Though it perhaps is more genuine and 'real' for the fallibility of its characters, yet still there is the urge to wish that they could have outsmarted their enemy.
This book was provided by the Publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.