Merivel is awful but we like him. He's a more introspective Pepys (with the blessing of a 20th century prose style) - a clownish, childish little man, with large appetites- for clothes, food, sex (especially sex)- and a touching devotion to (a) the King who pops in and out of his life like the Deus ex Machina Merivel wills him to be and (b) the sour and pathetic Quaker John Pearce, who is his antithesis and good angel. He's the sort of person about whom we say, "Yes, but he's harmless". In Merivel's case this isn't entirely true but we're more than happy to overlook the evil he does just so long as he goes on talking to us. Above all, Merivel is a voice- and the invention or discovery of a voice as irresistible as this is the novelistic equivalent of Paul McCartney waking up with "Yesterday" going through his head.