A short and delightful reframing of the life of a historical pope through the lens of an Ars Magica campaign. The author takes the known historical facts and key incidents, and then re-imagines them in the light of magic and spirits.
This book was a huge relief after some of the tomes that I've encountered this year. The author gets right down to things, writing enjoyable/interesting/emotional stories in 3, 10, 20, and 40 page increments. For instance, the start of the book actually tries to get you interested and excited about what's going on within 2-3 pages. This seems like Writing 101, but you would never know it from many of the books I run into. Anyway, within these first 3 pages the protagonist/future pope declares his love for his monk bros, Science, and God, barely rejects a coven of nubile sex witches, and experiences each of the earthly and celestial elements. As a person who loves Mind and Spirit and makes hydralisk spitting noises at the Body, I love this stuff, and it's a great way to start out. The rest of the book continues along similar paths, as our pope meets ever more educated bros, learns math and magic, puts God and magic artifacts before hoes, and tries to contain the cascading damage from the few but significant mistakes he made in using his power. The writing is consistently evocative, brief, and beautiful, and the author gets the "feel" of the setting completely right.
I liked this book, and my only major complaints is that it is only Ars Magica adjacent rather than being full on the Ars Magica RPG. E.g. it explains history in semi-Ars terms, rather than just going full on and exploring the entire life of a mage/coven using historical trappings.