From the award-winning author of Swordspoint comes a witty, wicked coming-of-age story that is both edgy and timeless. . . .
Welcome to Riverside, where the aristocratic and the ambitious battle for power and prestige in the city’s labyrinth of streets and ballrooms, theatres and brothels, boudoirs and salons. Into this alluring and alarming world walks a bright young woman ready to take it on and make her fortune. A well-bred country girl, Katherine knows all the rules of conventional society. Her biggest mistake is thinking they apply.
Katherine’s host and uncle, Alec Campion, the capricious and decadent Mad Duke Tremontaine, is in charge here—and to him, rules are made to be broken. When he decides it would be far more amusing for his niece to learn swordplay than to follow the usual path to ballroom and husband, her world changes forever. And there’s no going back. Blade in hand, it’s up to Katherine to find her own way through a maze of secrets and betrayals, nobles and scoundrels—and to gain the power, respect, and self-discovery that come to those who master. . . .
“Unholy fun, and wholly fun . . . an elegant riposte, dazzlingly executed.”—Gregory Maguire, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked
Kushner's winning high fantasy with its sophisticated swordplay marks a welcome return to the romantic Riverside world she introduced in Swordspoint (1987). Coming-of-age gets complicated for winsome Lady Katherine Samantha Campion Talbert after she's shipped off to her uncle, the Mad Duke of Tremontaine (aka David Alexander "Alec" Tielman Campion), who reigns over a decadent world of erotic and political intrigue. At first Kate's frightened of becoming a swashbuckler, but after training with the duke's favorite lover, the dashing Richard St. Vier, and becoming friends with Marcus, Alec's devoted young assistant, she finds she's more than up for the task. Her skills are tested in her effort to avenge the rape of her best friend, Lady Artemesia Fitz-Levy, by one of her uncle's foes, Anthony Deverin (aka Lord Ferris, Crescent Chancellor of the Council of Lords). Kate's discovery that "Fear is enemy to the sword" and love is the key to triumph leads to surprising consequences.