I was convinced this book would suck. It was an Arkham House offering from the dreaded seventies that stayed in print forever by an almost unknown author. I found myself unable to put it down. Great literature it is not, but interesting literate fantasy with good characters and novel plotting it is. I fell in love with minstrel Alaric. He had just the right measure of bumbling innocence, good intentions, and intuitive intellectual savvy to make him an interesting three-dimensional character. He is a reluctant but caring lover and far from being a womanizer, although he has at least three lovers, you just keep wishing he will get the girl (Solinde) he really longs for. There is very little supernatural here. Alaric has only one talent that bends scientific reality, and it appears that this is the only supernatural talent anyone can have in Eisenstein's fantasy medieval world (there MIGHT be prognostication as well but it is never used or proven). So it is a single well thought out plot device that drives the story. Otherwise the world behaves pretty much as it should and Alaric himself is a committed skeptic of all other things "magical" or supernatural. He uses the fact that all superstition is nonsense to his advantage and proves when he saves an accused witch that it truly is all nonsense.Once Eisenstein got the hook in me and I realized this wasn't going to be the same old childish swords and sorcerers fantasy nonsense, I really enjoyed it. I would love to read a sequel since we are left hanging on a cliff of sorts.