Despite escaping the Khol-Reyne’s live-stone beasts in Irtysh, Mark and his friends are still far from safe. In a twist of fate they find that the Narwal Horde have also been targeted by the Khol-Reyne, and that there is a chance that this mutual enemy might forge an alliance between them. It’s taking a big risk trusting them but for once the Horde’s strange codes of honour may work in their favour. Yet they cannot travel with the Horde when it takes them away from the answers they need to find to free both the people of the Duchy and Prince Imry’s kingdom of Triqlinia.
Landing at the Vyatic town of Porto-petra they hear disturbing news – someone of significance is here and they have prisoners. Worried that it might be yet another enemy – the insane former Jastrovian emperor, Moyerin Khazarig – and the man who is tying their ally, Jeno, up in the defence of what remains of Jastrovia, they investigate. What they find in the process are people closer to their hearts who are in grave danger and the answer to a question they have desperate need of: what happened back on Dushan?
Reuniting with the captains from the Duchy, their only remaining way forward is to make the perilous journey into the Cherson Mountains to meet Miramere’s people – the Delven who originally created the live-stone beasts. Is the live-stone the source of the Khol-Reyne’s power? Can the Khol-Reyne run out of their strange power, known as the Gift, or do they have an infinite source they can keep tapping into? Only the Delven know, and it could make all the difference as to how they can defeat them. What they don’t expect to find is the Delven having a secret means of striking back at the Khol-Reyne, created over decades against just such a return of those who once enslaved them.
Can Mark and his friends persuade them to trust them and join forces? And if they do, how can they get these new secret weapons into place to be able to use them? Time is not on their side because with winter ending and the hot summer ahead, the Khol-Reyne’s magical beasts will only get stronger as they soak up the sun. And are there more beasts who will awaken now that the Khol-Reyne have started the process? Which of the creatures carved out of the live-stone will serve the mad priests, which ones might help them, and how many could be wild and dangerous?
With everything to fight for, Mark must find ways to forge new alliances and bring all of his experience to creating innovative ways to fight the Khol-Reyne before it’s too late, and they take back all that was once theirs.