A new religion is rising, gathering followers drawn by rumors of prophetess Jane Oden. Her sister Cinzia—once a Cantic priestess—is by her side, but fears that Jane will lead them to ruin. For both the Church and the Nazaniin assassins are still on their trail, and much worse may come.
Knot, his true nature now revealed if not truly understood, is haunted by his memories, and is not the ally he once was. Astrid travels to Tinska to find answers for her friend, but the child-like vampire has old enemies who have been waiting for her return. And beyond the Blood Gate in the empire of Roden, a tiellan woman finds herself with a new protector. One who wants to use her extraordinary abilities for his own ends...
Following the dramatic events of Duskfall, Husberg settles in for granular worldbuilding around the mysteries of the human man Knot and the tiellan (elf) woman Winter, who struggle to survive in a world where a corrupt Christianity-like religion is ascendant and the tiellan are persecuted. For much of this installment, Winter is imprisoned offstage, and Knot is wrestling with the strange, roiling personas manifesting within him. Priestess Cinzia and charismatic Jane Oden take the lead as they struggle with their apparent destiny to rebuild the religion of Canta and with the unruly faithful. Knot and his vampire squire, Astrid, are among the Odenites, but not of them. It's clear things will go badly for Knot if he cannot gain the upper hand over his inner chaos, and that's his real concern. Meanwhile, the nobles of the city of Roden maneuver through a fraught succession, wielding weapons such as assassination, demonic possession, and strategic betrothals. The story has some of the action, horror, and revelations of the first volume, but this is a book of politics first: religion versus government, traditional female power versus traditional male power, and the wild cards that skew a chess match not designed for them.