Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition, and petty feuds poison King Daryan's young reign, and entire families are vanishing without a trace. Help is nowhere to be found, for their Nomas allies have troubles of their own, and the Mongrel, plagued by the sins of her violent past, has disappeared.
While Daryan struggles to maintain the peace, Eofar and Rho are racing to their northern homeland to plead - or fight - for the Shadar's independence. But Norland has changed, and they soon find themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode. Meanwhile the Mongrel's path carries her deep into Norland's frozen wastes to redeem a promise - one that forces her into the heart of the growing conflict.
As the foundations of the two far-flung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded....