For years following the terrible Serpentwar, the Empire of Great Kesh remained peaceful, but now dark clouds of conflict gather once more. Rumors abound from the Kingdom's far western borders of spies missing, murdered, and turned. Powerful legions from the Keshian Confederacy are being mobilized, and an attack is all but certain. As his legendary ancestor Prince Arutha did, Martin conDoin, middle son of the Duke of Crydee, must defend the lands against the invaders. But Arutha commanded a mighty army. Martin has only old men and young boys.
Pug, Midkemia's most powerful magician, fears what is in the wind, for he senses an encroaching darkness whose growing power surely spells his world's end. And soon the Kingdom's enchanted defender will find himself questioning everything he's ever held true and dear . . . including the loyalty and desires of his beloved son, Magnus.
When representatives from the besieged world of Laromendis arrive, claiming that Midkemia is the lost home world of the elves, the magician Pug and the Conclave of Shadows receive the elves as potential allies in the hopes of conquering a demonic common enemy.
Conclave of Shadows operative Tal Hawkins masquerades as a noble in order to get close to and defeat the evil Duke of Olasko, a quest that results in Tal's imprisonment in the Fortress of Despair.
As the dark clouds of war gather again, and the final battle for Midkemia begins, the Kesh's invading hordes descend upon the Kingdom and Pug, a powerful magician, must harness his fearsome magic and wisdom to save them all from a malevolent new threat that could destroy the alliance from within. Reprint. 100,000 first printing.