While young King Lanius dreams of being more than a mere figurehead, his fellow sovereign, the usurper King Grus, is defending Avornis against the shadowy plots of the Banished One—the dark god cast from heaven, who seeks now to dominate the mortal world.
With the barbarous, nomadic Menteshe in the south holding the Scepter of Mercy—and civil war raging among the Chernagor city-states in the north—Avornis finds itself threatened on two fronts. King Grus and his army are in the land of the Chernagors, hoping to quell the trouble—without becoming bogged down in a protracted war. Grus may be able to form an alliance against the Menteshe…Then again, it could be an inescapable trap.
But the longer the kings go without acting on their dream of retaking the Scepter of Mercy, the greater the advantage the Banished One gains. However, sending soldiers against the Menteshe risks having the army turned into half-mindless thralls. But sooner or later, King Grus will have to strike—before his people realize just how formidable an enemy the Banished One truly is…
Lanius is the only son of King Mergus of Avornis. But he is the son of the king’s seventh wife—and therefore illegitimate in the eyes of church and state. After the king’s death, the council of regents takes advantage of the irregular succession to use young Lanius as their figurehead while they rule behind the scenes.
Grus is a captain in the king’s navy, a man of common origins, as well as common sense. He is charged with guarding Avornis’ border against her enemies—including those who live in thrall of the Banished One. He’s watched his homeland weaken under careless rulers—and fears for the future as disturbing visions torment his dreams.
Now both Lanius and Grus must decide what’s best for the kingdom—before the influence of the Banished One spreads to their people as well.