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July, 1700, Rome. Atto Melani - once a celebrated castrato sopra, w a spy in the service of King Louis XIV, the Sun King - mingles with other high-ranking guests at the villa of Cardinal Spada. Despite being there to celebrate the Cardinal's nephew's wedding, the main topic of conversation is the grave illness of the Pope and the approaching demise of Charles II, King of Spain. Charles has heir and Kaiser Leopold of Austria and King Louis are each demanding the throne, with the Vatican supposedly mediating. Keen to promote his master's cause, Melani sets in motion a grandiose conspiracy that will plunge him into a world of secret languages, religious sects, forged Royal wills and Europe into war.
Rita Monaldi is an expert in religious history, her husband Francesco Sorti a musicologist. Both have worked as journalists, but in recent years they have collaborated on several historical novels including Imprimatur and its sequels Secretum and Veritas. They live with their two young children in Vienna and Rome.