Veteran fantasist Kay (Children of Earth and Sky, 2016, etc.) weaves another grand drama of war, intrigue, and love set against a backdrop inspired by the Italian Renaissance.
Set in the same world as several of his previous books—a reimagined Mediterranean with locations that serve as analogues for Venice, Florence, and Constantinople—the story follows an expansive cast, though the central figure is a one-time tailor's son named Danio. As an old man, Danio recalls the ways in which, despite his humble birth, his life came to involve dukes, lords, and generals. While serving as a court official's assistant, young Danio recognizes a woman being brought to satisfy the monstrous appetites of the city's despot. He deduces her true goal of assassination...and says nothing. The woman in question is Adria, a duke's rebellious daughter, who chafes against the expectations of her gender and instead pursues a dangerous life covertly serving her uncle Folco, a renowned mercenary commander. Danio's silence enables the assassination's success and puts in motion events that will take him to the courts and council rooms of the powerful. The memory of Adria haunts him, and their paths will cross again. Choices made by Adria and Danio—as well as by Folco; his hated rival, Teobaldo; and an independent healer named Jelena—continue to impact the duo and their world, and the characters move in an orchestrated orbit in which no encounter is truly "chance" and may in fact change people's lives forever. Fans of Kay's previous work will find his usual elements in play: strong historical research and worldbuilding, a vast cast of characters, world-changing events, and prose that sometimes gets carried away with itself.
An epic tale filled with characters compelling enough to bear the weight of the high stakes.