The Conclave of Shadows has smashed the Nighthawks' dread plot to destroy the Empire of Great Kesh through civil war, putting an end to the murderous brotherhood's reign of terror. But there is no time for the victors to celebrate, for the mad sorcerer, Leso Varen, has taken refuge with the Magicians of the Assembly on the world of Kelewan, and is lost among the most powerful men and women of that empire. And a devastating new threat looms on the horizon - hordes of the Dasati - the most vicious warriors in the known universe - are massing to overrun both Kelewan and Midkemia. The great sorcerer Pug knows of no power that will vanquish the invaders. And he realizes he must now enter another realm of reality if his world is to survive - and make his way to the poisonous heart of the Dasati Empire to find the answers he needs to defeat the fearsome enemy. Joining him on his quest into the dark unknown will be the brave Magnus and Nakor... and a disturbing young stranger named Bek, whose terrifying bloodlust and uncanny strength attest to a host of sinister secrets waiting to be revealed. But the champions of Midkemia will need every ally they can muster if their mission is to succeed in the most terrible place they have ever ventured - as they and all Midkemians prepare for battle against the encroaching doom that would swallow their world.