Hail Rosmer wants to be a great artist. She's been apprenticed to one of the kingdom's great painters in the bustling city of Aravis. It's a fream that leads her into obsession, and inadvertant crime. As she runs from the city, she meets a fisherman under a bridge, a man who's not who he seems. With the face of the revered King Julian, and the soul of his best friend Istvan, Hail's new acquaintance is her key to misadventure. Magical plots are afoot, plots that threaten to weaken the struggling state, run by the Prince-Bishop as the aging king lies slowly fading away. As Hail stumbles into plot after plot, she finds herself witness to the return of the King - and her obsession with the long-dead artist Maspero the only key to releasing the enslaved souls.
Stevermer writes with an eloquent ease, bringing the self-obsessed Hail to life in a few brief paragraphs. It's nt so much a story of the King's return, as a story of Hail's coming of age. This is her rite of passage, one that she has found herself falling down, an Alice in a rabbit hole of circumstance and danger.
An enjoyable short book, and one that fills in some of the back history of the alternate magical Europe familiar from Sorcery and Cecilia and A College Of Magics.