by Judith Merkle Riley
Driven nearly mad by jealousy, the queen, who is “very fond of do-it-yourself magic,” is frustrated with her court astrologer’s ineffective powers, until he reveals his knowledge of the magical object called the Master of All Desires.
This is a centuries-old box that contains the living head of Menander the Undying – a magus who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal life. Anyone in possession of the sharp-tongued, mean-spirited and unpleasant head may have their wishes granted, selling their own soul in the process.
With the queen in pursuit of Menander, the famous Nostradamus gets involved in the story.
Not to mention that the country is on the doorstep of the civil war.
However, I found the book full of wicked thumbnail sketches of power players, riotous actions, delicious mystery and romance, luminous prose, and feisty heroines with a feminist sensibility.