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In seventeenth-century France, Louis XIV rules with flamboyant ambition. In his domain, wealth and beauty are all; frivolity begets cruelty; science and alchemy collide. From the Hall of Mirrors to the vermin-infested attics of the Chateau at Versailles, courtiers compete to please the king, sacrificing fortune, principles, and even sacred family bonds.

‘A wonderful book! Adventure, love, history, magic – it’s an engrossing story with magnificent characters, balanced perfectly on the edge between,’ said DIANA GABALDON

By the fiftieth year of his reign, Louis XIV has made France the most powerful state in the western world, but the Sun King’s appetite for glory knows no bounds. In a bold stroke, he sends his natural philosopher on an expedition to seek the source of immortality: the mythical sea monster. For the glory of his God, his country, and his king, Father Yves de la Croix returns with his treasures: one heavy shroud packed in ice . . . and in a covered basin, an imprisoned sea-creature.

Marie-Josephe de la Croix has been looking forward to assisting her brother Yves in the scientific study of the sea monster, until she makes a discovery that will threaten everything her brother, the court and the King believe.

‘The finest alternate history ever, light-hearted and wise a luminous, radiant novel,’ said URSULA K. LE GUIN

But in the decadent court of King Louis, where morality is skewed and corruption reigns, will anyone listen to a single voice? Somehow, she must find the courage to follow her heart and her convictions – even at the cost of changing her life forever.

Reviews

The finest alternate history ever, lighthearted and wise - a luminous, radiant novel
URSULA K. LE GUIN
A dazzling and spirited evocation of the passions, intrigues and preconceptions of the age: an enchanting slice of what-if historical speculation
KIRKUS
Successfully melds fantasy and alternate history to create a charming, well-written and meticulously researched novel
FANTASY BOOK REVIEW
McIntyre has done her historical homework, as is evident in a superbly realised setting, and she executes the plot with superior skill. A splendid historical fantasy that shows sf star McIntyre admirably opening new territory
BOOKLIST
A wonderful book! Adventure, love, history, magic - it's an engrossing story with magnificent characters, balanced perfectly on the edge between
DIANA GABALDON
The story thrives in the details . . . gives it a thematic richness and resonance that made me care deeply about the story
EYRIE
McIntyre vividly re-creates a Versailles poised on the cusp between alchemy and modern science. Her imaginings enliven her history with wonder, but, as in the best fantasy, they serve less to dazzle by their inventiveness than to illuminate brilliantly real-world truths - here, humanity's responses, base and noble, when confronting the unknown
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Fans of McIntyre, or simply alternate history fans and romantics who love an intelligent, compassionate heroine will devour this book, yelling in outrage at the men who belittle our heroine and sighing with delight when she finds love
FEMSCIFI
One of the most enjoyable and well-written novels I have read in a long time. The novel has got splendid characterisation, a tightly-woven plot, and a fascinating story. It's also obviously meticulously researched, and full of intricate details about the historical era in which it takes place. Read the book. It is a marvellous, fascinating, uplifting experience
JOHN WALTERS, author of ADRIANA’S FAMILY
An excellent alternative history
ARTSANDWINE