The Trade Houses of the Miilark Islands control the shipping lanes linking four diverse continents across the blue vastness of the Interminable Ocean. The Houses are represented abroad by the Guilders; men and women skilled in business and burglary, salesmanship and swordplay, merchandising and musketry. Tilda Lanai has trained for years to take her place among them, but now the House she is to serve is imperiled by the sudden death of the House Lord. Scenting blood in the water, rival Houses begin to circle. The desperate search for an exiled heir takes Tilda across a war-torn continent and to the gates of the Sable City, where centuries ago dark magic almost destroyed the world. Along with a sinister sorceress, a broken-hearted samurai, and a miscreant mercenary long on charm but lousy with a crossbow, Tilda must brave the demon-infested ruins to find the heir who may yet save her House.