Sea of Shadows (Sea and Stone Chronicles)
This is the second novel in the Sea and Stone Chronicles set on the Greek island of Rhodes, which was ruled by the Knights Hospitaller, in the 15th century. Anica Foscolo, daughter of a Venetian father and a Greek mother, has a secret: the paintings attributed to her father are really hers. Her father, once a talented artist, is losing his eyesight. The family must keep the secret because they would lose commissions once word got out that a woman was the painter. Then Anica learns her father might be able to sail to Damascus to get an operation that would restore his eyesight. She enlists the aid of Drummond Fordun, a Scottish privateer employed by the knights. Initially mistrustful of Drummond, who she thinks of as a hired killer, Anica finds herself increasingly attracted to him. She also wishes to avoid an arranged marriage to a man she hates. Then her sister gets pregnant by one of the knights, and Anica must rely on Drummond to save her family’s honor.
Amy Maroney does an excellent job of bringing 15th-century Rhodes to life. It is a fascinating, vibrant culture, with which many readers are probably unfamiliar. Rhodes was a crossroads between East and West, and constantly under threat of attack by the Ottoman Turks. It was an important center of trade, and Maroney captures the people’s excitement whenever the merchant ships arrive, bringing goods from far-off lands. Anica is a strong, courageous heroine, and Drummond an enigmatic hero with secrets in his past which gradually unfold. He seems to be a rough man at first, but he is actually more honorable than many of the knights. Although this is the second book in a series, it stands alone because the first book has different protagonists. I highly recommend both.