Book 1 in the Forgotten Ages series (2012)
Professor Tikaya Komitopis isn’t a great beauty, a fearless warrior, or even someone who can walk and chew chicle at the same time, but her cryptography skills earn her wartime notoriety. When enemy marines show up at her family’s plantation, she expects the worst.
But they’re not there to kill her. They need her to decode mysterious runes, and they ask for help in the manner typical of a conquering empire: they kidnap her, threaten her family, and throw her in the brig of their fastest steamship.
Her only ally is a fellow prisoner who charms her with a passion for academics as great as her own. Together, they must decipher mind-altering alchemical artifacts, deadly poison rockets, and malevolent technological constructs, all while dodging assassination attempts from a rival power determined the expedition should fail. As if the situation weren’t treacherous enough, this new “ally” may turn out to be the last person Tikaya should trust. Those runes cloak more than mysteries, however, and he’s the only one who can help her unravel them before their secrets destroy the world.