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.