It is the year 1537. The great winged Lion stares over a Venice where magic thrives. The rich Venetian Republic is a bastion of independence and tolerance. Perhaps for that reason, it is also corrupt, and rotten with intrigue.
But for the young brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, vagabond and thief, Venice is simply home. They have no idea that they stand at the center of the city's coming struggle for its very life. They know nothing of the powerful forces moving in the background. They have barely heard of Chernobog, demonlord of the North, who is shifting his pawns to attack Venice in order to cut into the underbelly of the Holy Roman Empire. All Marco and Benito know is that they're hungry and in dangerous company: Katerina the smuggler, Caesare the sell-sword, Montagnard assassins, church inquisitors, militant Knights of the Holy Trinity, Dottore Marina the Strega mage ...and Maria. Maria might be an honest canaler, but she had the hottest temper a boy could find.
Yet among the dark waters of the canals lurk far worse dangers than a hot-tempered girl. Chernobog has set a monster loose to wreak havoc on the city. Magic, murder and evil are all at work to pull Venice down. Fanatical monks seek to root out true witchcraft with fire and sword. Steel-clad Teutonic knights, wealth traders, church dignitaries and great Princes fight and plot for control of the jewel of the Mediterranean.
And somehow all of these, from thieves to mages to princes, must gather around Marco and his brother Benito, under the shadow of the great winged lion of Venice.
Eric Flint was the creator of the New York Times best-selling Ring of Fire series, the best-selling alternate history series of all time. Beginning with 1632, Flint—along with dozens of cowriters—chronicled what happened when the 20th-century town of Grantville, West Virginia, was transported through time and space to 17th-century Europe. In addition, Flint was the author, with New York Times best seller David Weber, of the Crown of Slaves Saga, as well as the Belisaurius series, with best-selling author David Drake. Flint was the editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, as well as numerous short story anthologies. Before becoming a writer, Flint worked as a trade union organizer, longshoreman, truck driver, auto worker, steel worker, oil worker, meatpacker, glassblower, and machinist. Eric Flint passed away in 2022.
Dave Freer is an ichthyologist turned author who lives on Flinders Island (between mainland Australia and Tasmania) with his wife, four dogs and four cats, and two sons. He has coauthored a range of novels with Eric Flint (Rats, Bats and Vats, The Rats, the Bats and the Ugly, Pyramid Scheme, Pyramid Power, and Slow Train to Arcturus), with Mercedes Lackey and Eric Flint (The Shadow of the Lion, This Rough Magic, The Wizard of Karres, Much Fall of Blood, Burdens of the Dead, and Freer’s solo entry in the series, A Mankind Witch) as well as writing the Dragon’s Ring fantasy novels Dragon’s Ring and Dog and Dragon.