At fifteen, Sanyel is as good as dead. In defiance of strict tribal and religious law, Sanyel’s shaman father has been covertly training her in the secret knowledge and rituals of the medicine man, sacred practices prohibited to females. Betrayal by her best friend leads to Sanyel’s banishment to the unforgiving Desert of Bones, the equivalent of a death sentence.
The savage desert cruelly tests Sanyel’s will to survive and she begins to question her father’s belief in portents that surrounded her birth. He had told her that these signs indicated a destiny that included leading her people in a time of great trouble. Sanyel has secrets. She possesses unusual talents known only to her and her father. She will need those abilities, for beyond the desert’s edge lies a culturally and politically complex world that she did not know existed. When soldiers of a brutal, expansionist people attack and enslave Sanyel’s tribe, she vows to free the friend who betrayed her.
With the companionship of Javen, a boy of undeniable physical attractions, along with Brilna, an unfocused yet invaluable fountain of knowledge, and the remarkable Izzy, a one-armed girl of intimidating presence and deadly skill, Sanyel will rise from desert exile to embark on a mission that is both perilous and deeply personal. Along the way she will find unexpected love and form stalwart bonds of friendship, uncover intriguing mysteries of an advanced, long vanished culture, and unearth clues that suggest she holds a more unique and powerful status in the world than she ever imagined.