It's cold. The wells of power are weakening and the forces of Night grow strong. The gods are real, and still have some power, mostly to do harm. The Instrumentalities of the Night are the worst of these.
Piper Hecht, born Else Tage, survived a battle with the Instrumentalities. Now he's Captain-General of the armies fighting a crusade for Patriarch Sublime V. Intrigues swirl around the throne of the Grail Empire, as the imperial family's enemy Anne of Menand raises money to help the perpetually indebted Patriarch finance his crusades. To reduce his own vulnerability, sickly young Emperor Lothar assigns his two half-sisters—his immediate heirs—to their own realms.
Now Piper Hecht learns that the legendary sorceror Cloven Februaren, referred to as the Ninth Unknown, is still alive, more than 100 years old, and on Piper's side. As the dynastic politics of the Empire become even more convoluted, it's clear that while the old gods may be fading, they're determined to do everything they can to bend the doings of men to their own advantage.
Sieges, explosions, betrayals, Anti-Patriarchs, and suspicious deaths will ensue as the great chess game plays itself out, with Piper Hecht at the center of it all…
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
The elaborately wrought second installment (after 2005's Tyranny of the Night) in Cook's dark military fantasy saga promotes Piper Hecht previously known as Else Tage before he vanquished an immortal foe to the rank of captain-general under Emperor Sublime V. While Piper staves off the menace of the Tyranny of the Night, which is slowly freezing the lands around the Mother Sea, he also battles the Patriarchs, stubborn in their opposition to imperial rule. Cook ups the intrigue when Piper discovers a necromancer lurking among his supposedly trustworthy allies, while a prophet thought long dead reappears and allies himself with the captain-general. The lovely and intelligent Anna Mozilla warms Piper's bed and heart when he's not occupied with magical and military threats. Though Cook makes few concessions to new readers, his fans will enjoy the sword fights and potent magic, all motivated by complex religious and political power struggles.