Ace, April 2005, 24.95, 416 pp
The former prince of Cathra is King Conrig of High Blenholme and the former independent kingdoms are now vassal states. The king sits uneasily on the throne because he has a small amount of magic as does his three sons. By law, all of these royals are not suited to rule. He is desperate to keep this a secret but he learns that his first wife that he divorced because he thought she was barren is the mother of his son, a child who has no magic and should be the heir to the throne.
King Conrig has other enemies including the former Royal Alchemist Killian and Prince Beynor of the House of Mass. Killian is locked away in an abbey wearing an iron collar around his neck so he can't perform magic and Beynor is exiled to the Downtide Isles with the sentient Salka monsters who want to rule the humans. These two men pair up to overthrow the empire starting with the destruction of the royal family of Didion. Prince Somarus allies with these two rebels and proclaims himself the king and wants his country to be independent again. Conrig's first wife intends to tell the world that the king has magic flowing through his veins and her son should be the king. There are forces at work to keep Conrig on his throne because he has the best chance of defeating the evil Beaconlights and be an instrument for the good Beaconlights.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner