Peter Claire, an English lutenist, arrives at the court of King Christian IV, under the illusion that he is going to lead a comfortable life as a member of the royal orchestra. The King, who is distracted by mounting trouble in his kingdom by threats of war from neighbouring countries and by dishonest politicians, is struck by his beauty and resemblance to an old friend from childhood, and decides he will find his companionship adequate compensation for his loneliness and his political difficulties. Developing a special but platonic attachment to Peter, he calls him his ‘angel', even though he still makes his dedicated musicians play in the freezing cellar at Rosenborg while he listens in his cosy rooms above, hoping that music will soothe him.
At the same time Peter forms a close relationship with Emilia Tilsen, a young woman at court who is the closest companion of the King's adulterous, estranged morganatic wife (not Queen) Kirsten, and they remain close despite the social and political obstacles placed in their path, mostly by the scheming activities of Kirsten.
Kirsten's stepmother Magdalena visits Christian's mother Dowager Queen Sophie, who hoards her gold in secret, and they form an alliance. Peter's love life is complicated when an Irish Countess takes a fancy to him, and Emilia is distracted from time to time by her mute younger brother Marcus. Meanwhile King Christian sits in his study, having found consolation weighing the same pieces of silver over and over again. At one stage he is so worried by the state of the nation's coffers that he sends his ambassador to Whitehall to plead for a loan from his nephew, King Charles I of England.
The review of this Book prepared by John Van der Kiste