Jane Stevenson's Several Deceptions was hailed as one of the outstanding literary debuts of the year 2000. Now, with The Winter Queen, Stevenson confirms her place as a major new talent. This superb novel, the first in a historical trilogy, is a work of extraordinary ambition and range. Set in Holland in the seventeenth century, The Winter Queen is a sweeping portrait of the tumultuous history and politics of the era as well as an immensely moving account of a strange and magical love affair. At its center are two royal exiles: Elizabeth of Bohemia, the Winter Queen, and her clandestine lover, an African prince with shamanic gifts, sold into slavery and freed after years of bondage. Their world is delineated by the illuminating portraiture and exquisite detail of the Dutch paintings of the period. But beneath the light-filled surfaces, crowned heads lie uneasy, scheming princes vie for power, chaos and war threaten in a time of painful uncertainties. As always with Jane Stevenson's work, The Winter Queen appeals powerfully to both the heart and the mind. This elegant novel is that rare achievement: a brilliant, beautiful, astonishingly learned work that is also wonderfully entertaining.