After the Border Wars, Mikel Orion flees Serengard and seeks haven in the Desert of Aldad. Although he and his sister, Kierstaz, must become slaves in order to set foot inside its borders, the hot sands hold a bitter kind of peace-one he hopes to keep. But he risks destroying their newfound stability when he becomes entangled with an Aldadi girl. Aura has tragic secrets of her own, but she gives Mikel a purpose beyond his birthright, and when he leaves the Desert he carries scars that run deeper than skin.
Twelve years later, trouble brews in Serengard that threatens to pull in the Aldadi and the Drei alike. Trapped in a dungeon as the prize prisoner of Trzl-an orchestrator of the rebellion that killed his parents-Mikel is out of maneuvers. Even while Kierstaz gathers a force to attempt his rescue, Trzl transforms more and more into the hypnotic ruler she claims to loathe...and Mikel becomes convinced that peace has never been within his reach at all.