Bantam, June 2004, 6.99, 575 pp.
During the Age of Shadows when one of the suns began a generation long eclipse, the High Priestess of the Shadowdancers uses her knowledge of when the Age of Light will return to gain power. Over the next few decades the Lion of Senet and the High Priestess pursue ruling the world so that everyone worships their religion. The country of Dhevyn is essentially a satellite of Senet with the Lion of Senet's second son as regent and his queen is the daughter of the monarch pushed aside.
Dirk Provin has betrayed everyone he cares about to get close to the Lion of Senet and eventually becomes Lord of the Shadows and Lord of the Sun. He is an expert Machiavellian manipulator who has the populace so frightened that they call him The Butcher. Little anyone knows that Dirk is working from within in the church to destroy the people's faith in the Shadowdancers. He did not expect that his plots within plots would have brother fighting brother in a civil war that could tear Senet in two.
This is the last book in the Second Sons Trilogy (see THE LION OF SENET and EYE OF THE LABYRINTH). Readers watch a nineteen year old manipulate a man more than twice his age. The protagonist is ruthless because he can't see any other way of freeing the kingdom of Dhevyn or do away with the evil cult of the Shadowdancers who use their religion to commit heinous acts.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner