The old imperor was dead at last. His popular soldier grandson, known as Shandie, had succeeded him . . . Had he not? No, he had not. The man who sat on the opal throne was not Shandie, but an illusion created by the mad dwarf Xinixo. Year after year, he had stealthily been ensorcelling sorcerers, turning them into loyal minions. Now, wielding their combined power, he was irresistible. He ruled the Impire, so he ruled the world. He would continue to rule it for centuries. Anyone who knew the truth or opposed him in any way, he would destroy or enslave. That especially included his old enemy, King Rap of Krasnegar, Shandie, the rightful imperor, and all their supporters, their friends, their families. All of them! First he had to catch them. With his infinite magic, that ought to be easy. Rap and Shandie had other ideas, but even they could see that their cause looked hopeless.