With her father held prisoner in a foreign kingdom, Princess Briony takes up the throne of Southmarch, as her twin Barrick becomes ill and is plagued with horrible nightmares, while, in the meanwhile, the small funderling Chert discovers that the terrible, destructive Shadowline is moving ever closer south, engulfing the world in a thick, unnatural magical fog.
At the same time, the ancient fairy people, the Qar, led by the fierce warrior woman Yasammez whose only joy comes of the sight of death, plan to invade the human lands and take Southmarch castle, even as traitors within the kingdom of Southmarch plan to sieze Briony's throne, and, through the means of the Shadowline, throw the world back into Old Night.
A small group of soldiers is sent to investigate the area as Briony deals with domestic matters within her kingdom, and as the court physician Chaven disappears from Southmarch to investigate a mysterious stone, the story leads up to a surprising, suspenseful conclusion.
This report prepared by Steve Arthur
Daw, Nov 2004, 25.95, 800 pp.
Before humans settled the land, the immortal fairy Qar lived there. At first humans and fairy lived together, but as mankind multiplied the Qar were forced to relocate onto unpopulated lands. When plague struck, humans blamed the Qar; they killed many and drove the survivors back into the wastelands of the north. When the humans try to expand northward, they run into the shadowline put there by the Fairy to prevent mortals from entering their land. Residents of Southmarch, the realm closest to the shadowline barrier, guard the wall to warn their brethren if the humans penetrate.
The Southmarch ruling family is the Eddons, but the patriarch is held hostage in the Southland and the Prince Regent is mysteriously killed leaving twins Briony and Barrick in charge. In Qar, the Fae Hesemnez is ready to take back the land stolen from her people, especially Southmarch. Meanwhile the co-regents worry about the Autarch to their south whose growing empire poses a threat and internally someone is willing to kill to rid the land of the Eddons.
Briony deals with court intrigue to include betrayal by those she trusts while preparing for war; her brother is haunted by nightmares but insists he must head their army against the Qar.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner