The seventh volume (To Lie with Lions, 1996; The Unicorn Hunt, 1994, etc,) chronicling the extraordinary adventures of Nicholas de Fleury, a Machiavellian 15th-century merchant who is, as this hefty installment opens, still locked in battle with greedy, incompetent kings, a shadowy rival trading empire, and his estranged wife, Gelis, one of a very few figures who have been a match for him in terms of wit, passion, and cunning. Since Nicholas’s efforts to outwit those trying to destroy his influence have made much of Western Europe too hot for him, he turns eastward, toward Russia and the yet more mysterious lands beyond. Dunnett continues to demonstrate a distinctive ability to evoke not just the sights and sounds of the early Renaissance but, more importantly, its mindset; her characters are far more often moved by questions of respect, family (a particularly touchy subject for the mysterious Nicholas), and power than by more mundane emotional upheavals. By novel’s end, de Fleury, an engaging mix of ruthlessness and honor, seems closer to winning Gelis back, has helped preserve yet another kingdom, and has, for the time being, once more outflanked his foes. Those devoted to this unique series will be relieved to hear that it has not yet reached its conclusion.