Enemy mages and ships. An all-powerful organization gone rogue. One woman refuses to stand aside.
After the Divinity reveals its dark intentions, Rielle and her friends patrol the Shining Sea, doing all they can to stem the tide of gold flowing into Magehold and the dangerous goods flowing out. Facing Immortals and pirates at every turn, they wage battle after battle against clandestine Divinity ships in an effort to weaken its ability to grasp for power.
Meanwhile, Veris draws near and the Dragon King hunts Jon, whose life hangs in the balance as Olivia and Samara seek answers to heal his heart. As the werewolf presence in Emaurria escalates, Brennan is forced to confront both sides of his werewolf–noble identity and choose whether to reject it or embrace it. In a harsh and deadly wilderness, Leigh and Ambriel search for clues about the Sundering ritual, hoping to seal away the violent Immortals and save the land for good.
But the Divinity does not accept defeat — and when the Grand Divinus strikes back, it is not at Rielle but at Emaurria. Will she give up her war against the Divinity, or will Emaurria fall?
If you like the fantasy romance of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the dark intrigue of the Black Jewels series, the epic adventure of Game of Thrones, and a heroine who never gives up, you'll love this romantic epic fantasy series.
Buy Queen of the Shining Sea and dive into a medieval world sensual and dark, full of magic and greed, love and blades, where factions vie for influence and there are no easy choices...
A convoy. An entire convoy.
Her long coat battered by the chilly sea winds, Rielle gripped the Liberté’s railing tightly and glared through the spyglass at the uneven twilit water. No visible ships, but the wakes were there, disturbing the surface of the waves. Given their size, the ships were big, transporting sizable cargo.
So the Divinity of Magic either had something of worth… or had finally gotten wind of her attacking their ships for the five months since the Magister Trials. Either way, this convoy would meet its end.
She handed the spyglass to Liam, who fixed it on the horizon. The cold bit at her sweaty palms, so she wiped them on her overcoat and then warmed them with puffs of warm breath.
Liam’s blond-stubbled chin jutted out, and he popped his jaw. “I don’t see anything.”READ MORE
“The wakes,” she said, and he hissed out a breath. “Illusion magic.”
“Three galleons,” he murmured, “with at least half a dozen ships in escort.”
But half a dozen, a dozen—it made no difference. This was what she had been trained to do. Battle magic. And the Grand Divinus—no, Samanta Vota—would not get away with circulating the drug sen’a anymore. Maybe she couldn’t fight the Divinity directly, but she could cripple its shipping, and wither the constantly flowing vein of the gold it needed to keep functioning.
A small rupture in the hull would slowly sink a vast ship. Even one so vast as the Divinity of Magic.
Liam collapsed the spyglass. “You’re missing the point. The heavier escort means the Divinity is aware of us. Those ships are prepared.”
“Or,” she said, with a tilt of her head as she leaned her elbows against the railing, “that galleon has something the others didn’t. Something more valuable.”
Something they could take from Vota.
A bigger rupture. Something to sink the Divinity even faster.
Fantastic. A corner of her mouth curled even as her skin tingled all over.
In four months, they’d intercepted six ships heavily laden with sen’a. Sen’a belonging to the Divinity of Magic. What could be more valuable than that? A larger shipment? Something more to sweeten the deal Vota had made with the sen’a barons?
“Or both,” Sterling’s monotonous voice remarked from behind them. His hands clasped behind his back, Liam’s best friend and quartermaster stood stiffly, tall and lean, his black coat flapping in the wind, his sharp brown eyes shifting from her to Liam.
Even if it were both—the Divinity ships prepared for their attack and shipping something more valuable—between her, Liam, Sterling, Marfa, Luca, and the rest of the crew, they could handle the Divinity ships. It was worth the effort to kick Vota in the teeth.
“Attacking them would delay us. You don’t want to miss Sincuore’s execution in Courdeval, do you?” Liam drawled.
Her fingernails bit into her palms. Chained, starved, and abused, she’d once promised herself that Sincuore would become a red stain. After everything Sincuore had done to her, and to countless others like her—after everything she’d lost in Sonbahar—seeing the life leave his hateful face might unclench the fist in her heart. Maybe at least a little.
And returning to Courdeval—finally having a much-needed conversation with Brennan—well, that would help, too. Even if she wanted it about as much as pulling her own teeth.
Heaving a sigh, she slipped a finger through the Sodalis ring and slid it along its chain.
Yes, Courdeval was complicated. To say the least.
But as much as returning to Courdeval made her hair stand on end, seeing Sincuore brought to justice wasn’t something she could ignore. “We’ll get there in time. I’ll make sure we do.”
Liam narrowed a skeptical light-blue eye at her.
“Come on… I can promise favorable winds.” She nudged him, and he rolled his eyes. “You know we can handle that convoy.” After months of sailing together—intercepting slavers and Divinity ships, defeating pirates and taking their plunder, growing their own flotilla and crew—by now he had to trust her skills. He had to.
He crossed his arms. “There has to be at least one mage aboard, considering the illusion magic.”
She’d dueled Phantom, an infamous illusionist and mage captain of the Crag Company, and had defeated her. If this mage was an illusionist, then she could probably handle him.
A capable illusionist had a bag of tricks well suited to infiltration, escape, and deception. Being on a ship negated the first two, and as for the third—deception would only delay the inevitable destruction of elemental magic. And she wasn’t even the only elementalist aboard—Liam was a pyromancer.
“You watch my back, and I’ll watch yours?” With a faint smile, she stared at him until at last he whooshed out a breath.
He handed Sterling the spyglass and patted him on the back. “We’re going after them.” He looked over his shoulder at her. “Give us those favorable winds, but mind my ship’s masts, little bee.”
“Aye aye.” She saluted, earning a crooked grin from Liam before he headed up to the helm with Sterling, who shot her a conspiratorial grin. Well, a slight curve of his mouth, at best, but that was a Sterling Harwood grin. She winked back at him. Between the two of them, they could pull Liam out of any rut.
Leaning against the railing, she jittered her boot against the deck. If they could take down this convoy, it would be one more puncture in the Divinity of Magic’s hull.
The Divinity ships were nothing more than specks on the horizon—specks she could prime for boarding without the crew having to break a sweat.
But as for the convoy’s extra security… It had been over four months since the Magister Trials, four long months since her last duel against another mage. Since… Since everything. The Divinity hadn’t seen fit to send mages along on the previous ships, but now was different. And she hadn’t dueled in too long.
But magic was her life. She’d still been practicing. That would be enough—hopefully.
The sting of arcanir abated as she removed Jon’s Sodalis ring from its chain around her neck, and placed it on her thumb. In the long months since the Magister Trials, it had given her the silence she’d needed from the blood bond with Brennan. Olivia had written that the preserved blood had worked to keep his Wolf controlled.
That measure had given her space to gather her thoughts, to reflect, to become herself again.
And no doubt he’d needed this space, too, enough to devote to his… to his new family.
Taking a deep, fortifying breath, she rubbed the ring on her thumb, its arcanir face out of contact with her skin. It was time to work.
Liam gave her a nod from the wheel while signal flags with orders were hoisted for the Peerless, the Daniela, the Criselda, the Fiore, and the others sailing with them.
“Loose all sails!” he bellowed to the crew, receiving a ripple of ayes.
She undulated her fingers, gradually pulling a gale from the south, slowly filling the sails until the Liberté took as much wind as she could bear. When her eyes met Liam’s, he nodded gravely. It was time. The Divinity convoy had to be subdued before the flotilla sailed within firing range.
Two black-haired heads emerged from the hatchway—Luca and Marfa, and with a hungry smile, Marfa approached the railing, her thick mane of black hair flapping in the wind.
“We hunt the mad Coven?” Marfa crooned, her deepest-brown eyes fixed on the wakes in the distance as she Changed her fingers to claws. Marfa’s gauntness had abated over the past few months, but her features were still sharp, sleek, with slender limbs and high cheekbones that could cut diamonds.
“We hunt,” Rielle agreed.
Although she’d been zealous—perhaps even a bit overzealous—when it came to the Divinity, no one matched her zeal like Marfa. But considering the torture Marfa had survived at the hands of Magehold’s sadists, that zeal was well placed.
Maintaining the gale with one hand, Rielle turned back to the horizon, where beyond the wakes nothing appeared but the never-ending turquoise of the Shining Sea and the cerulean of the sky. That would soon change.
Inside, she reached for the shimmering blue thread of her anima, life in its purest, rawest form.
She raised her other hand, and out on the sea ahead, the waters agitated to a rough chop, unsettled, as she churned the waves, building them and building them. Feeding the spell more and more anima, she pulled a wave high, unnaturally high, rising like an iridescent cliffside—
A cliffside that slammed against the convoy.
The force broke over invisible shapes that became massive galleons, sturdy brigantines, and small sloops.
Raging waters crashed over the revealed ships, tipping some and capsizing others. Sails tore off into the sea. Masts bent and broke under the force, and sailors were ripped away into the merciless waves.
If the ships were visible, then the Divinity mage who had cast the illusion spell had to have broken his focus. Good.
As the Liberté and its flotilla moved in, she dispelled the aeromancy while some of the Divinity ships righted themselves. A change of the Liberté’s signal flags to the flotilla, and grapnels hooked into the remaining Divinity ships. The flotilla’s crew waited near the railing while chaos reigned amid the cacophony of shouts and cries.
After her hydromancy, they had a short window of opportunity before the Divinity ships’ crewmen could properly muster a response.
The enemy’s weather decks were empty, drenched in seawater. The Criselda’s crew already boarded a carrack, charging down its companionway, while the Peerless closed in on one of the three-masted galleons.
Rocking on her eager toes, she waited at the railing. They had the advantage, but if the Divinity mage—or mages—regained their composure too soon, this entire maneuver could go sideways.
Liam shouted orders as the crew heaved the grapnels, with a few climbing the ratlines high enough to meet the four-masted galleon’s forecastle and aftcastle.
As the gap between the ships closed, Marfa got a running start and was the first to leap over. She made for the hatchway while others laid boards, jumped, and swung from the Liberté.
Checking for Thorn clipped to her side, Rielle darted across a board with the crew onto the four-masted galleon’s weather deck. Yells and the clash of blades already came from below.
The deck burst before her.
Planks and splinters exploded into the air, throwing her back against someone. Hands secured her shoulders, righted her. Liam’s.
Taking up a dueling stance next to her, he snapped his fingers, spelling flame in his palm.
She was about to do the same when he gave a subtle shake of his head.
“Sword,” he hissed.
She groaned but drew Thorn.
Liam had been teaching her swordsmanship for months. It was time to put those lessons to use yet again.
Cautiously, they approached the section of missing deck as Liam unleashed a torrent of fire, surging at the lower deck.
Behind a blurry repulsion shield, two men in master-mage coats stood.
One conjured a fiery blade. Which meant the other was the enforcer.
She spelled a cutting wind at them, but they scattered as it sundered the deck planks behind them.
Cannon fire blasted into wood somewhere; one of the Divinity ships had to be mustering a defense. Liam had work to do.
Casting a fire shield at her left arm, she leaped to the lower deck, Thorn raised. With a slash of its arcanir blade, the repulsion shield dispelled.
“I got this!” she shouted at Liam, and the torrent of fire faded with his footsteps.
Battle raged behind her, the Liberté engaged with the galleon’s crew, while she advanced on the mage pair.
The conjurer swung his fiery blade at her wildly, and each time she met it with Thorn, his magic dissipated.
Objects flew at her from around the ship, forcing her back as she raised her fire shield against them. The enforcer threw a knife her way.
She parried it with Thorn. The knife—it dissipated.
It wasn’t a real knife.
The enforcer wasn’t an enforcer. He wasn’t a real person.
Deception. Delaying the inevitable.
She ducked a slash from the conjurer. No—the illusionist. He hadn’t used an illusion magic incantation to cloak the convoy; he was an illusionist himself, using innate magic.
Ignoring the enforcer apparition, she blocked the illusionist’s fiery blade, dispelling it yet again. With a gesture of cold, she dropped her fire shield as she grabbed his neck.
Frost radiated from her fingers in ripples of fog while she held Thorn’s pointed tip to his chest, pressing it hard enough through his clothes to prick his skin.
His hands shot up at his sides in surrender.
“No more tricks,” she snarled at him, and the whites of his eyes grew as he nodded gravely. “What are you hiding? Why was the convoy cloaked?”
He trembled in her grasp, his breath quick.
A man flew past them, cracking against a drenched twelve-pounder. He fell to the floor and didn’t move, hemorrhaging from his neck.
In her periphery, Marfa took a few steps forward, dragging a sleeve across her bloodied mouth. She grinned with red-stained, sharp Changed teeth. “Need help?”
Oh, Marfa’s brand of help would speed this up considerably.
Rielle angled the illusionist’s wide-eyed, blue-tinged face to Marfa’s direction. “He won’t talk about why the ships were hidden.”
Marfa flexed her gore-strewn claws. “I make talk.”
Those wide eyes only widened further. “I-I-I d-don’t r-really know who sh-she is, just that we’re t-taking her to the V-vault. I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
“What’s the Vault?” She’d never heard of such a place. And who was this she he referred to?
The illusionist drew his eyebrows together, looking from her to Marfa and back again. “It’s the Divinity’s most secure p-prison.”
Prison? The Divinity had long “disappeared” those it had deemed irredeemable. For the “protection of the public,” of course.
Those prisoners had to include people who’d taken a stand against the Divinity. Like her. Like Leigh. Prisoners who might join her and Liam’s crusade against the Divinity.
“Who is this prisoner?” she bit out to the illusionist.
“I don’t know her n-name. Sh-she’s in the h-hold on the Nina, one of the other galleons.” He pointed to the companionway back up to the weather deck.
As Marfa grabbed him, one clawed hand to his neck, he cried out. She shoved him ahead of them both.
The charts mapping the route to this Vault would be in the captain’s cabin. They had to be. They’d go there first, then board the Nina.
If they could find a way into the Vault, it would mean allies. Maybe powerful allies.
The illusionist trembled as Marfa pushed him along, claws still to his neck. This entire convoy had been on their way to the Vault.
She grinned. There was no reason why these ships shouldn’t make it there. And as long as she used her aeromancy, they’d still be in Courdeval in time for Sincuore’s execution. Something she didn’t want to miss. Something she wouldn’t miss. After everything that had happened in Sonbahar, the red stain of fate would darken as promised.
Distant cheers rose up, rippling closer. They’d crippled the Divinity a bit more, and someday, it would be withered enough for defeat.
Liam bolted down the ladder, his gaze wild until it landed on her. “What are you doing?”
Could she sell this plan to him? He’d known what it had meant to be locked up, held against his will. And the Divinity was doing the same to objectors, perhaps innocent of everything but mere disagreement with the Divinity’s perspective.
A flash of white brightened the deck though the portholes. Then a great rumble rolled through the galleon.
Of course. A storm. Now, of all times.
She took a deep breath. “How do you feel about a prison break?”COLLAPSE