Turmoil envelops the lands adjoining the Middle Sea on the two-mooned world of Trascera. Wracked by nearly four decades of civil war, the once mighty Tieran Empire staggers down a path leading either to rebirth or destruction. The War of Houses pits the most powerful of Tieran nobility against one another in a struggle as interminable as it is bloody.
In a far-flung Tieran territory, three friends come of age to face their uncertain future. Mat, the apprentice blacksmith, must answer a call to duty while his intended, Bodewhin, and Jaryd, an ambivalent student of law, face the twin coils of witchcraft and sorcery. Will Jaryd's new love interest to a young girl from a different culture and Mat and Bodewhin's love for each other survive the forces that threaten to tear them apart?
Meanwhile, battle-weary Tieran soldier Quintus Glabrio Jens is caught up in the travails of civil war as he struggles to reconcile duty and conscience. Simple enough for a thoroughgoing professional, until he encounters a black-eyed beauty and the unthinkable.
A sudden and unexpected end to the War of Houses sets into motion a sequence of events none could have foreseen. Citizens of the empire find themselves poised upon the precipice of rapid, widespread change. The world in which they were raised, the one their parents knew, and their grandparents thought would last forever is about to crumble. Only the most able will rise to meet what destiny so reveals.