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Even steel can be broken.
Mamlakah is once again on the brink of war, this time over who sits on the throne. Alere, Jarran, and Mina race toward Madina to claim Jarran’s inheritance as Jun First. With a Weishi House kill-contract on her head, Alere unlocks new yanstone powers – which lead her further down a destructive path Mina cannot condone.
But Nasra Connor and Jun Fourth Hassan Wen-Gates reach Madina first, and they pave the city’s streets with blood to secure the throne. Xintou House’s students and Bonded Xintou are murdered. Mistress Li, the two Jun Seconds, and Jarran’s daughters are imprisoned and slated for execution.
Even if Alere can reach Madina in time to prevent the executions, her fighting skills are no use against Nasra and Rohne – the two most powerful Xintou in existence. Her only chance is if she and a reluctant Mina can master the yanstones. But Mina is unwilling to use the yanstones’ brutal powers against her old friends.
So Alere will gamble her mind, her life, and the sanity of everyone she loves on one, dubious, chance of victory. If she can’t prevail, Kalima will be subjugated beneath the steel will of the strongest xintou in history.
All hope of freedom… lost.