Niccolo Rising is the first in a series of eight novels, so this is really long. Persevere for a truly rewarding experience. You might be tempted to give up, but all the mysteries are unraveled in the final book, Gemini.
Nicholas de la Pole is an 18-year-old dyer's apprentice in 15th century Bruges. He seems, awkward, perhaps slightly slow, but certainly a hit with the ladies, and we find out smarter than he lets on. He has decided ambitions, a gift with languages and mathematics, and secret patrons and enemies. Nicholas and his friends, historical and fictional, turn out to be a group you want to spend time with. His travels around Europe, Africa and the Middle East are enthralling. By turns admirable, despicable, and admirable again, you learn a great deal about the late fifteenth century and enjoy it into the bargain since Dunnett has done all the research for you.