Roc, March 2005 14.95, 448 pp.
In the realm of Avornis, two monarchs rule; after years of mutual distrust, Kings Grus and Lanius co-exist peacefully. Lanius is married to Grus' daughter, but resents sharing the crown. Both rulers are determined to retrieve the Scepter of Mercy that was stolen by the Menteshe tribes and now resides in their heavily fortified city of Yozgat.
King Grus leads a military campaign into Menteshe freeing the thralls of the sorcery that left them as beasts of burden. He regains lands that once belonged to Avornis but cuts short his invasion with winter coming. The following year, Grus places a siege on Yozgat but it is Lanius who comes up with a daring plan to steal the Scepter from under the nose of the Prince Korut who is inside the besieged city. If Lanius' plan works, they won't have a protracted battle with many lives lost, but the evil Banished One helps his followers the Menteshe in their efforts to destroy Grus and his army.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner