this one is just as strong as THE SAD TALE OF THE BROTHERS GROSSBART. best thing I’ve read so far this summer, by far, and I kind of doubt anything else is going to live up to it. and, I’ve had this copy Jesse gave me for I don’t know how long long — too long — but kept putting it off, telling myself it was because I was arm-deep in the second BUNNYHEAD installment, that reading Jesse would shut me down there, and then telling myself it was nearly five hundred pages, was going to take some investment, but those are all fake excuses. really, it’s two things: I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as strong as GROSSBART, and I was doing that VANILLA SKY, pleasure-delaying thing. happily, my nervousness was way misfounded, and, yes, the book is a complete and absolute pleasure to read, and not just because of any stupid delaying. so, this is the imperative part: don’t delay, crack it open now, lose yourself, then, at the end, wish it wasn’t over. lots of books this size, they’re that size because the writer didn’t know where to stop, so just kept feeling ahead in the dark, hoping to latch onto some kind of useable end. that’s not ENTERPRISE. not even close. the whole way through, it’s intentional, never indulges itself, and, most importantly, never falls so in love with the characters or the setting that the story loses its thrust. however, yes, WE fall in love with the characters, with the setting, with this version of Renaissance Europe. I think last time, when I was doing a write-up for GROSSBART, I said something about Conan, maybe (?). the whole way through here, that’s just what I was thinking again: that this land and time Jesse takes the story through, it’s made real in some way Howard had, which I’ve never been able to articulate, quite. I don’t know if it’s the grittiness mixed in with the fantastic, if it’s the sense of these characters being a lens onto the world, or if it’s just that Howard and Bullington both imagine the places they’re writing so, so completely. but there’s something very similar with the two, something I know I’m always reaching for, trying to do. and it could just be an instinct, finally. because, yeah, I mean, hit Jesse’s bibliography, he does the research for these books, but the research is for him, not for the story, I think. I think the story’s moving by instinct, and the research is just filling in the background here and there. so, next time? I’m not waiting to read the book. nobody else should either.