The Machinaries of Empire
Although this novelette is part of the larger Machinaries ‘verse, you can read it without any knowledge of that wider world as it is a prequel. So it also contains no spoilers, unless you count getting to know a character before they appeared in Ninefox Gambit a spoiler…
It features Shuos Jedao as an undercover operative sent in to rescue an old friend from an alternate faction. Of course trouble results, when you can’t speak the language and society duels using pathogens it isn’t that easy to avoid trouble.
I enjoyed this, and it is the perfect taster for this ‘verse. Ninefox Gambit was really good, and I want to read the rest of the series, but on occasion it did make my brain hurt. This is a much easier story to just enjoy. Well worth the read.