Travis Daniel Bow, author
Three strangers. Two plots. One champion. In the crater of a volcanic island, musical magic and enchanted swordplay rule society. Every seven years a champion from each caste climbs the tournament ladder for a chance at a new life. This year three apparent strangers—a sabotaged craftsman trying to save his mentally disabled father, a legendary duelist resisting the machinations of her master, and a Magistry janitor fighting an empathy-sapping talent—are desperate to reach the final battle. But a web of strange coincidence connects them, the city is on the brink of collapse, and nothing is as it seems. Everyone's a puppet… but who holds the strings?