A knight fallen from grace, Ava Sandrino has spent years in courtesan’s silks, searching for wealth behind the Paper House walls. One winter eve, in the fog-soaked city of New Dera, she discovers something else: Sariel, a fugitive slave. He is running from the desert mines, and from an Empire that is hungry for a new and mysterious metal that the alchemists call brimstone.
In a moment of mercy and lust, Ava shelters Sariel from his pursuers, and in the light of the moon, he speaks to her of a door. It is a gate that opens into a world that lies beyond the Northern Dark, over the edge of their farthest horizon. There, paupers rub shoulders with princes, and there are riches to be had by those with the will to seize them.
Swayed by his tales of strange oceans and distant stars, and tired of a past that haunts her, Ava joins him. The lure of a kingdom where souls are remade beckons. Their path, however, is far from clear. Ava and Sariel must cross a borderland that is the domain of magicians, the humans that serve them, and the One O’clock King: a faceless despot who guards the crossroads of worlds.
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© 2019 Justine Rosenberg