The Empress Holds the Key is a wonderfully complex and skillful blend of gospel, myth, legend and infamy, all interwoven in such a fashion that there seems to no way to reconcile them, but that is where Farago's talent comes to the fore. Characterisation is excellent, as well as the blend of times over 700 years. This is a book that you think must come to an end soon, but then yet another strand is woven into the story. Farago's research is among the best I've ever read. Don't start this book unless you've got a lot of time on your hands, because you won't want to put it down.