Helprin's writing feels exuberant. There's beautiful writing on ever page:
He moved like a dancer, which is not surprising: a horse is a beautiful animal, but it is perhaps most remarkable because it moves as if it always hears music.or
His teeth were like the signposts that appear in the remoter camps of expeditionary armies to point the way to the world's brighter and more congenial locations. They thrust in all directionsHe throws out cool ideas with reckless abandon -- a flying horse, a bridge-builder whose workers are the souls of the dead, a consumptive woman whose fever burns so hot she has to sleep in the snow, and on and on. His minor characters would be major characters in a smaller book.
Of course, the book has its flaws. His characters are a bit flat (although I think that suits the epic scale, so maybe not a huge flaw). It can feel a bit disjointed at times -- major characters get dropped for hundreds of pages. But I'd forgive a lot in a book this amazing, and this one has relatively little to forgive.