Lois McMaster Bujold has won the Hugo award four times, and the Nebula award twice. This is her second epic fantasy and the sequel to Curse of Chalion. The Golden General's curse has been lifted from the royal family and Cazaril can now rest easy and enjoy his new life with his bride Betriz. However, life for Ista, the Dowager Royina has not improved. With the death of her mother, the Provincara, and with her surviving child Iselle now ruling Chalion from the Capital Cardegross, she is left without purpose. Her brother's family still think she's mad and aim to keep her locked up safely to avoid embarrasment, but she craves freedom and escape and begins to plan how this may become reality.