I was really looking forward to reading this novel, both because I happen to be acquainted with the author and because it sounded intriguing: an 18th-century surgeon who can feel no pain, and a story which takes him from England to Paris to Russia and back again. When I started the book, I wasn't so sure about it, but it gradually sucked me in, and there were points when I simply couldn't put it down. The writing is excellent - certain episodes are described with stunning clarity and beauty - and though the characters are viewed through a dispassionate eye, you are still intrigued by and ultimately care about them. The book takes a very mysterious turn towards the end, one which is unexplainable and unexplained, but which still works. When I finished the whole book, I went back and read the beginning again and found that it resonated much more. Very interesting and very enjoyable.