A few years have passed since the events in Furies of Calderon. Now, Tavi is going to school at the imperial academy, and serving as a page for the High Lord, Gaius; he is also secretly training to be a cursor, one of the High Lord's spies. He still has to deal with bullies who take advantage of his lack of a fury, one of the elemental spirits of either earth, air, fire, water, wood, or metal. Then a mysterious attack puts Gaius into a coma. To avoid a civil war, Tavi and Gaius' most trusted confidant concoct a plan to maintain the illusion that Gaius is still healthy. Max, a close friend of Tavi's, is drafted to use his water fury skills, which allow him to alter his appearance to look like Gaius. Thus everyone is deceived into thinking that they High Lord is still fine.
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In Calderon Valley Tavi's aunt Isana, has fended off several attacks by assasins. So she travels to the imperial city to ask for help from Gaius. However, she cannot get in contact with Gaius, because Tavi and Max have limited his appearances, to lessen the risk of someone discovering their deception. If Isana is to survive, she will have to make alliances that may radically shift the balance of power.
However, this is not the only danger facing Tavi and his family. Kitai and Doroga, Marat warriors and friends of Tavi's, discover that a legendary moster has been awakened and is on the move. Vord are bloodthirsty shapeshifters that multiply rapidly. Their shapechanging abilites make them hard to detect. These characteristics make them almost impossible to destroy. They have abandoned their nest and split into three groups, each with a queen. Doroga and two thousand of his warriors barely manage to kill one of the queens and destroy her new nest. He sends Kitai to warn Tavi that one of the queens seems to be tracking him. Doroga then goes to warn Tavi's uncle Bernard that the third queen has nested near his home. They must destroy this nest before more queens spawn.
The review of this Book prepared by Michell