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In this stirring sequel to the epic dramas Bloodwinter and Springwar, a new king must strive to heal a war-torn land, master a dangerous and world-altering magic, and defeat a secret and fanatical religious sect that will stop at nothing to gain total power.
Peace has come to the realm of Eron, and with it a new High King: young, inexperienced Avall, victor in the war against Ixti, sole possessor of the magical gems taken from the mines of the frozen north. But as Eron attempts to heal from the bloody conflict and a devastating plague, unrest once again grips this troubled land, stirred up by a secret cabal of powerful priests who call themselves the Ninth Face.
Avall struggles to quell the unrest and to understand and control the boundless magic of the mysterious gems. At the same time, his twin sister, Merryn, must make her own arduous journey a step ahead of those who would gladly claim her life. But it is the fanatical leaders of the Ninth Face who pose the greatest danger. They have put in motion a deadly plan to drive Avall from the throne, destroy the power of the noble clans, and take possession of the gems themselves–all in the name of their unbending god. For Eron the choice is stark indeed: an imperfect and inexperienced king...or the tyranny of the righteous.