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Synopsis

In 1585 Spain the empire upon which the sun never sets is crumbling. Royal coffers are empty, and the Spanish Armada rests at the bottom of the sea. The Church is fracturing, and the Holy Office of the Inquisition labors to restore dominion to the Chair of Peter.

Cristobal de Mesa, a young man of shadowy birth and exceptional prowess, walks in the light of King Phillip's favor. His is the hand that exercises the king's strength; that bloodies the king's streets, until he receives a command that requires he deny his own conscience. Sophie Lavade, French heiress to a great merchant fleet, is coerced into an alliance that will place her ships under Spanish control. De Mesa, set to escort her to Madrid, crosses paths with a notorious heretic and learns that his charge is about ships rather than sanctity, about fortune rather than faith, about politics rather than piety.

Heresy is a religious offense, but a state crime. In Spain it is treason.

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