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Power-hungry Kalare has rebelled against Alera's aging First Lord, Gaius Sextus. Ill-equipped to face this attack, Gaius must seek support - even from the combative High Lord of Aquitaine. Kalare has also seized valuable hostages that could mean the difference between victory and failure. And Amara, the First Lord's Cursor, has been tasked with their rescue. She has earned this trust but are her allies as worthy - or does the Lady Aquitaine see the time as ripe for betrayal?
Treachery is rife elsewhere, as young Tavi of Calderon will find. Posted away from the war, Tavi joins a legion anyway, under an assumed name. Then Kalare does the unthinkable - uniting with the brutish Canim. When treason wipes out the army's command structure, Tavi finds himself leading an inexperienced legion against the might of the Canim horde - the very last resort of a war-torn realm.
Butcher deftly mixes military fantasy and political intrigue in the rollicking third Codex Alera book (after 2005's Academ's Fury). Gaius Sextus, the First Lord of Alera, plants his nephew Tavi in a new legion, where Tavi can gather information on the rebellious High Lord of Kalare. Tavi, now a full-fledged Cursor, or spy, infiltrates the legion under the assumed identity of an officer, a station the green young man has not yet actually achieved. Treachery from a supposed ally opens the legion to attack from its bestial enemies, the Canim, incapacitating the captain and catapulting Tavi to the rank of the legion's commanding officer. Cut off from contact with the First Lord and with few seasoned officers to guide him, he must lead the troops in a defense of the Imperium against a horde of frenzied Canim warriors set on annihilating the Aleri people. Readers will cheer Tavi every step of the way.