Tessa is young, talented, and blind. She walks alongside the canals of Beldessario and plays her dulcimer for strangers, seeing only their auras and relying on their generosity to survive. Gazing into people's souls may not win her many friends, but being able to spot the blackened hearts of brigands keeps her safe in the besieged city. All she wants is to play her music and maybe marry a certain one-legged soldier-boy.
Her chances for a normal life end when she meets Raz, the would-be conqueror of her city. Ambitious, evil, and powerful, the world's last fire efreet can see auras, too. Raz is trying to bring the world back under the rule of wizards. He is well on his way to conquering the world, but—he lacks the wizards. Reading auras separates magical trinket mongers from legendary sorcerers. Tessa has enough potential to move his plan forward twenty years. Not only is she untrained and malleable, but she can be the perfect breeding stock to make new wizards.
When Raz moves to kidnap her, Tessa is wedged into an ancient war between the efreeti and marid. Alli, the world’s last water wizard, has been waiting for the right moment to train Tessa. With Raz in their city and his army at the gates, neither Alli or Tessa can wait much longer. Alli cannot defeat the wizard alone, but Tessa will have to give up her simple dreams and embrace her magical nature to turn the tide and save her city.
THE HEART OF BELDESSARIO is a 90,000-word fantasy novel set in a Renaissance pseudo-Venice, complete with courtesans, sword-fights, and a bucket of water.
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