Ronald Syme's quick recapitulation of the long-forgotten voyage of John Cabot and the opportunist double dealing of His Son Sebastian (KR, 1972) is expanded here into a full-scale intrigue against the opulent setting of Renaissance Venice and the courts of Henry Tudor and Spain's Charles I. Using contemporary prints and maps Kurtz portrays the seaport of Bristol as it was under the Tudors, and searches for clues to the fate of John Cabot's lost second voyage. In the process, he catches the spirit of both men. A contemporary's comment reveals John in the first flush of success after his discovery of New Found Land, ""vast honor is paid to him and he goes dressed in silk, and these English run after him like mad."" And a sly portrait of Sebastian -- a great cartographer and a great liar -- makes one suspect that he must have been charming despite all his schemes to take credit for his father's work and to play the English off against the Spanish. Readers in a hurry will still be satisfied with Syme, but this handsome and historically complete portrait does more to make the Cabots and their time real.