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The Shadow of the Lion


ADVENTURES IN AN OTHER-WORLDLY
NEW-AGE VENICE

It is the year 1537. The great winged Lion stares over a Venice where magic thrives. The rich Venetian Republic is a bastion of independence and tolerance. Perhaps for that reason, it is also corrupt, and rotten with intrigue.


But for the young brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, vagabond and thief, Venice is simply-home. They have no idea that they stand at the center of the city's coming struggle for its very life. They know nothing of the powerful forces moving in the background. They have barely heard of Chernobog, demonlord of the North, who is shifting his pawns to attack Venice in order to cut into the underbelly of the Holy Roman Empire. All Marco and Benito know is that they're hungry and in dangerous company: Katerina the smuggler, Caesare the sell-sword, Montagnard assassins, church inquisitors, militant Knights of the Holy Trinity, Dottore Marina the Strega mage . . . and Maria. Maria might be an honest canaler, but she had the hottest temper a boy could find.


Yet among the dark waters of the canals lurk far worse dangers than a hot-tempered girl. Chernobog has set a monster loose to wreak havoc on the city. Magic, murder and evil are all at work to pull Venice down. Fanatical monks seek to root out true witchcraft with fire and sword. Steel-clad Teutonic knights, wealth traders, church dignitaries and great Princes fight and plot for control of the jewel of the Mediterranean.
And somehow all of these, from thieves to mages to princes, must gather around Marco and his brother Benito, under the shadow of the great winged lion of Venice.


Cover Art by Larry Dixon



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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.


First printing, March 2002


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lackey, Mercedes.


The shadow of the lion / Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint & Dave Freer.
p. cm.
ISBN 0-7434-3523-0
1. Venice (Italy)—History—1508–1797—Fiction. 2. Brothers—Fiction.
3. Monsters—Fiction. I. Flint, Eric. II. Freer, Dave. III. Title.


PS3562.A246 S53 2002
813'.54—dc21 2001056466


Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020


Production by Windhaven Press, Auburn, NH
Printed in the United States of America


ISBN-13: 978-0-7434-3523-9
ISBN-10: 0-7434-3523-0

Copyright© 2002 by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint & Dave Freer


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.


A Baen Books Original
Baen publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471
http://www.baen.com


Electronic version by WebWrights
http://www.webscription.net



To the world's firefighters;
and, especially:
to the hundreds of those in the
Fire Department of New York
who died in the line of duty on
September 11, 2001.
BAEN BOOKS by MERCEDES LACKEY

BARDIC VOICES


The Lark & the Wren
The Robin & the Kestrel
The Eagle & the Nightingales
The Free Bards


Four & Twenty Blackbirds


Bardic Choices: A Cast of Corbies
(with Josepha Sherman)


The Fire Rose
Fiddler Fair


Werehunter
Lammas Night
(edited by Josepha Sherman)
The Ship Who Searched
(with Anne McCaffrey)
Wing Commander:
Freedom Flight
(with Ellen Guon)


URBAN FANTASIES


Bedlam's Bard
(omnibus with Ellen Guon)
Beyond World's End
(with Rosemary Edghill)
Spirits White as Lightning
(with Rosemary Edghill)


The SERRAted Edge:


Chrome Circle
(with Larry Dixon)
The Chrome Borne
(omnibus with Larry Dixon)
The Otherworld
(omnibus with Mark Shepherd & Holly Lisle)


THE BARD'S TALE NOVELS


Castle of Deception
(with Josepha Sherman)


Fortress of Frost & Fire
(with Ru Emerson)


Prison of Souls
(with Mark Shepherd)


BAEN BOOKS by ERIC FLINT

The Philosophical Strangler
Forward the Mage (with Richard Roach)


The Belisarius series, with David Drake:


An Oblique Approach
In the Heart of Darkness
Destiny's Shield
Fortune's Stroke
The Tide of Victory


The Tyrant (with David Drake)
(forthcoming)
1632
Mother of Demons


BAEN BOOKS by DAVE FREER


The Forlorn
Rats, Bats, and Vats
(with Eric Flint)
Pyramid Scheme
(with Eric Flint)


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