Michael A. Stackpole, New York Times bestselling author and master of epic fantasy, continues his unforgettable chronicle of a world divided by war, betrayal, desire, and two rival magicks. . . .
As her merciless armies sweep from the north, the tyrant Chytrine pursues her quest to become empress of the world in a brutal campaign of unspeakable bloodshed and unholy sorcery. While cities and kingdoms topple, her agents, both living and dead, search for fragments of the shattered DragonCrown—which, when reassembled, will make her unstoppable.
Opposing Chytrine is the beautiful and determined Alexia, Princess of Okrannel. As she struggles to save the life of Kedyn’s Crow, a mysterious human warrior accused of treachery, she gathers around her an alliance of unlikely heroes, including Resolute, an exiled Vorquelf out for vengeance; Kerrigan Reese, a mage with uncertain potential; and last but not least, young Will, an orphan thief from the slums of Yslin, who may be the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy—or its innocent victim. Alexia and her friends will need all their courage and magick, their only advantage the secret possession of a vital fragment of the DragonCrown. But when Chytrine’s terrifying horde of cruel warriors, voracious minions, and remorseless undead slaves join the battle against them, even courage and magick may not be enough to stem the tide of ultimate darkness.
Communing with dragons has a price in the second book of Stackpole's Tolkienesque epic trilogy (The Dark Glory War), and no one knows it more than the band of unlikely warriors determined to find the fragments (Truestones) of the DragonCrown. The Truestones would give the Vorquelf Empress Chytrine the potential power to crush the Southlands and eventual dominion over the world. Among those pledged to defeat Chytrine are Princess Alexia (Alyx) and her "husband" Crow (Tarrant Hawkins), whose gentle love story provides a nice subplot alongside the prerequisite battle scenes and magick lessons; Resolute, the loyal exiled Vorquelf; ex teen thief Will Norrington, whose heroic efforts have been foretold in a prophecy to be the ultimate key to Chytrine's destruction; and young Kerrigan Reese, a shy adept still learning how to harness his own talents. Especially intriguing are the dragons, dracomorphs, wizards and other odd creatures (including the Azure Spider from the last book), whose exploits, along with Will's heroic development, enliven the somewhat sedate pacing of this complex saga. Also of note are the scenery chewing antics of Chytrine's devoted servant sullanciri, as well as the more elegant musings of Princess Isaura, the conflicted daughter of the Aurolani Empress. It takes a while for the masks to come off in this installment and the dragons to fly, but once they do, the ride is worth the wait. FYI:Stackpole is also the bestselling author of titles in the Star Wars X-Wing series.