Ace, August 2004, 6.99, 352 pp.
After nine years of fighting the Shadowed, a powerful wizard and his armies, Tier is coming home. When he stays at an inn he saves the life of a Traveler, a powerful mage in a land that hates people who use magic. When they arrive at his village, he marries the mage Seraph and they start out their married life farming a piece of land nobody else would touch. They have three children all of whom have different Talents and they are relatively happy until Tier doesn't return home after a season of trapping.
The leaders of the village tell her Tier is dead but when she and her children investigate the remains, they are magically able to ascertain that the burned body is not Seraph's husband. After fighting a priest and her brother in law who is Shadowed, she learns that her husband was taken to the Emperor's palace in Taela by the Secret Path, a shadow organization of second and third sons who strip the powers of the Talented and use it for their own purposes. Seraph, with the help of other Travelers intends to free her husband but when she arrives at the palace, Tier informs her they must break the power of the Secret Path in order to save the Empire from their behind the scenes rule.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner