A humble goat herder’s son and kin of the wood cat, Conash bonds with his familiar when he is just six years old. The sickly boy teeters on the brink of death, so much so that he is given the Death Rites three times before he is ten years old.
Against all odds, he grows up a happy, laughing child, the apple of his mother’s eye and his father’s most cherished son. The church will not give him the Life Rites, since the boy will not live to puberty. Conash is beloved of the beasts; able to charm the birds from the trees with his smile, and his parents know he is God Touched.
When the Cotti invade his village during the Rout of Ashtalon, Conash is just twelve years old. After witnessing the slaughter of his family and familiar, he wakes from his death sleep a castrated Cotti slave, and suffers their abuse until the night he slips away into the desert. He crawls from it maddened and haunted by his familiar’s ghost, his heart as dead and cold as frozen stone.
Sustained by hatred and rage, he journeys to Jondar, capital of the Kingdom of Jashimari, to become a thief and murderer and live in the gutter, fighting for scraps with stray dogs. Then an elder assassin takes him in and trains him to be a killer...