A sort of melancholy character study, it revolves around the lives of a group of closely connected characters: King Christian IV of Denmark, his wife Kirsten, The king's musician and lutenist, Peter Claire, Claire's love interest, Emilia Tilsen, and her family, and Christin's chaotic and self absorbed mother. Along the way there are flashbacks to the King's childhood friend, Bror Brorson. The novel won several awards but is perhaps most famous for the quality and delicacy of the writing.
Be Warned, spoilers will be unmarked.
Tropes in the novel include:
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Three times.
- Ambiguously Gay: Bror Brorson. It's heavily implied that he hero worships Christian to such an *extent that other people don't factor into his thinking, and he dies in Christian's arms.
- The Atoner: Johan Tilsen, Vibeke Kruse.
- Beta Couple: Charlotte and George.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Marcus is the absolute personification of this, while Emilia also has shades of it.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Peter is frequently cast in this role, something he bitterly resents.
- The Lost Lenore: Feature frequently. Emilia's Mother is the strongest example, being this trope to Emilia's entire family. Peter is this to Francesca, and Bror Brorson is a tragic example for Christian.
- Manipulative Bitch: Kirsten takes the absolute and proverbial cake with this.
- Unreliable Narrator: Several. Perhaps most obviously Kirsten, but a very strong case can be made for Francesca as well.