Driven by the ghosts of the Darakyon, Achaeos has tracked the stolen Shadow Box to the marsh-town of Jerez, but he has only days before the magical box is lost to him forever.
Meanwhile, the forces of the Empire are mustering over winter for their great offensive, gathering their soldiers and perfecting their new weapons. Stenwold and his followers have only a short time to gather what allies they can before the Wasp armies march again, conquering everything in their path. If they cannot throw back the Wasps this spring then the imperial black-and-gold flag will fly over every city in the Lowlands before the year's end.
In Jerez begins a fierce struggle over the Shadow Box, as lake creatures, secret police and renegade magicians compete to take possession. If it falls into the hands of the Wasp Emperor, however, then no amount of fighting will suffice to save the world from his relentless ambition.
Tchaikovsky's third Shadows of the Apt novel (after 2010's Dragonfly Falling\n) finds his steampunk-flavored sword and sorcery world, once dominated by the magic-wielding inapt, now threatened by the insatiable and technologically apt Wasp Empire. The empire, heretofore the beneficiary of the mutual distrust and disunity among Lowlanders, begins to falter as external threats bring the Lowlands together, diplomatic ruses go horribly awry, and the empire's habitual abuse of its subjects leads to internal discord. Its only hope now lies in a small wooden box that holds the promise of power but may deliver only nightmares. New readers may struggle to keep up as Tchaikovsky puts his large cast through its paces, introduces secretive assassins of a forgotten race, and heaps on plot twists with a generous hand. \n