Melissa McShane is the author of EMISSARY and THE SMOKE-SCENTED GIRL. She lives in Utah with her family and three very needy cats. Her next project is a fantasy romance titled SERVANT OF THE CROWN.
In a world very much like our own Victorian England, the country of Dalanine is at war. The implacable, unstoppable Despot has been pushing northward for over a year, conquering everything in his path with military and magical force, leaving nothing but destruction in his wake. For Evon Lorantis, Dalanine’s most promising young magician, the war represents the same kind of work he’s always done, inventing and developing new spells for his country’s defense. But as good as he is, he’s still stumped by the mystery the government’s department of Home Defense brings him: a rash of spontaneously occurring fires, hotter than any natural force can produce, melting stone and vaporizing flesh wherever they strike. Home Defense believes it’s a weapon that will finally defeat the Despot. And they want Evon to harness it.
In investigating the problem, Evon discovers these fires are no accident; there’s a magician behind them, a woman using the fire to prosecute justice on her own terms. Evon sets off on a journey across Dalanine to track down this rogue magician, hoping to persuade her to turn aside from her vigilante crusade to serve her country, afraid of finding only a madwoman at the end of his quest. But the woman he does find is nothing like he expected, the mystery far greater—and older—than he’d imagined, and the secret of the fire more potent than anyone could have guessed. As Evon attempts to untangle fact from myth, what began as an assignment becomes a challenge that will require every ounce of magical ability he has—and will irrevocably change the course of his life.
When unquiet ghosts walk the earth, the servants of Atenas, God of Death, guide them to their final rest in His domain. For six years, Zerafine, priestess of Atenas, and her companion Gerrard have walked the known world, bringing peace to the dead and fair judgment to the living. Hated and feared as a death-bringer by many, Zerafine has never regretted her decision to serve Atenas and never doubted her ability to carry out His will.
An unexpected assignment from the Archpriest of Atenas sends Zerafine and Gerrard to Portena, the oldest city in the world, in pursuit of a kind of ghost no one has ever seen before: spirits that vanish before they can be sent to Atenas's court, appearing and reappearing at random. As emissary of Atenas, Zerafine's task is to discover the true nature of these ghosts and find a way to bring them peace. But Zerafine's assignment puts her at odds not only with the rulers of Portena, but with the high priest of another God, and she soon realizes that all is not as it seems in the great city. If Zerafine fails to learn the truth and put these ghosts to rest, it could mean disaster not only for Portena, but for the world.