The Tallikon Empire is under new rulership. Varkand, the Blind Prophet of the heretical Storm Creed sect, had the Emperor assassinated and claimed the throne for himself, and when the Imperial Order of Mages declared their intent to stand against him, he had them purged. As the last scion of the legendary Order hero Atrim Earthrender, the young apprentice Jonas was expected to be a light of hope for the Order.
Instead, he ran away.
Ten years later, Jonas has put the purge of the Order behind him, and begun working as an enforcer for a mob boss in the port city of Alemu, but he is torn between his new life and his old one when a mysterious figure known as He Who Treads the Darkness begins urging him to use his magic to resist Varkand again. Varkand's hold on his throne is tenuous - he is crippled by the rituals he uses to extend his life, dealing with plots amongst his nobles, and devoting more and more of his time to the search for immortality, as he knows his time is growing short. With rumors of Empress-in-Exile Talandra Nehriss returning to claim the throne for her dynasty and a new Order forming in the deserts of Herlas, he fears all his work may have been for nothing. He is sustained only by one goal... and that goal is Jonas, with his mysterious ability to access the Banished Way of resurrecting the dead.
Nobody can be sure what the fate of the Tallikon Empire will be. What they know is that it will soon be swept up in a great war, and its lands will be cleansed in fire...