It is a bitter winter, and civil war is ravaging Kurald Galain. Urusander's Legion prepares to march on the city of Kharkanas. The rebels' only opposition lies scattered and weakened - bereft of a leader since Anomander's departure in search of his estranged brother. The remaining brother, Silchas Ruin, rules in his stead. He seeks to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn families to him and resurrect the Hust Legion in the southlands, but he is fast running out of time.
The officers and leaders of Urusander's Legion, led by the ruthless Hunn Raal, want the Consort, Draconus, cast aside and their commander to marry Mother Dark and take his place at the side of the Living Goddess. But this union will be far more than simply political. A sorcerous power has claimed those opposing Mother Dark: given form by the exiled High Priestess Syntara, the Cult of Light rises in answer to Mother Dark and her Children.
Far to the west, an unlikely army has gathered, seeking an enemy without form, in a place none can find and commanded by a Jaghut driven mad with grief. It seems Hood's call has been heard, and the long-abandoned city of Omtose Phellack is now home to a rabble of new arrivals: Dog-Runners from the south and Jheck warriors. From the Western Sea strange ships have grounded upon the harsh shore, bearing blue-skinned strangers to offer Hood their swords. And from mountain fastnesses and isolated valleys of the North, Toblakai arrive to pledge themselves to Hood's seemingly impossible war. Soon they will set forth - or not at all - under the banners of the living. Soon weapons will be drawn, with Death itself the enemy.
Beneath the chaos of such events, and spanning the realm and those countless other realms hidden behind its veil, magic now bleeds into the world. Unconstrained, mysterious and savage, the power that is the lifeblood of the Azathanai, K'rul, runs loose and wild - and following its scent, seeking the places of wounding and hurt where the sorcery rushes forth, entities both new and ancient are gathering...and they are eager to feed.
Understanding at last what his gift of blood has unleashed, a weakened K'rul sets out, in the company of a lone guardian, to bring order to this newborn sorcery and in the name of order seeks its greatest avowed enemy....
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