Synopses & Reviews
In the depths of night, customs officers board a galley in a harbor and overpower its guards. In the hold they find oil and silver, and a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Stunningly beautiful but half-starved, the boy has no name. The officers break the boy's chains to rescue him, but he escapes.
Venice is at the height of its power. Duke Marco commands the seas, taxes his colonies, and, like every duke before him, fears assassins better than his own. In a side chapel, Marco's thirteen-year old cousin prays for deliverance from her forced marriage. It is her bad fortune to be there when Moorish pirates break in to steal a chalice, but it is the Moors' good fortune - they kidnap her and demand ransom from the Duke.
As day dawns, Atilo, the Duke's chief assassin, prepares to kill the man who let in the pirates. Having cut the traitor's throat, he turns back, having heard a noise, and finds a stranger crouched over the dying man, drinking blood from the wound. The speed with which the boy dodges a dagger and scales a pillar stuns Atilo. And the assassin knows he has to find the boy. Not to kill him though - because he's finally found what he thought he would never find.
Someone fit to be his apprentice.
Venice in the early fifteenth century is at the height of its power. In theory Duke Marco commands. But Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. Within the Serene Republic, their word is law, but for all their influence, Venice's fate still lies in other hands . . .
Lady Giulietta is the Duke's cousin. She enjoys greater privilege than many can even dream of, but her status will demand a terrible price.
Atilo Il Mauros is head of the Assassini, the shadow army that enforces Venice's will - both at home and abroad.
Prince Leopold zum Bas Friedland is the bastard son of the German emperor and leader of the krieghund - the only force in Venice more feared than Atilo's assassins.
And then there is Atilo's angel-faced apprentice. Only a boy, Tycho is already stronger and faster than any man has a right to be. He can see in the dark, but sunlight burns him. It is said that he drinks blood.
Award-winning author Jon Courtenay Grimwood seamlessly blends history, politics and dark fantasy in a compelling vision of a Venice that might have been.
About the Author
Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. Apart from writing novels he works for magazines and newspapers. For five years he wrote a monthly review column for The Guardian
JCG's novels Felaheen and End of the World Blues, won the BSFA Award for Best Novel. He has been shortlisted twice for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award, the August Derleth Award (UK), John W Campbell Memorial Award (US), among other awards.
He is married to the journalist and novelist Sam Baker, currently editor-in-chief of Red. They divide their time between London and Winchester.