Shah Jamshid al-Hassan, king of the Parthian Empire, is dead. He is succeeded by three heirs: Esfandar, the crown prince; Soraya, the forgotten daughter; and Roshani- the one who killed him.
Roshani felt no remorse shoving her sword through her father's heart. Nor does she have any doubts about imprisoning her cunning grandmother in the depths of the royal prison, where she can't cause any more trouble. The tyrannical tendencies in the young empress only seem to be tempered by Kasra, her infant half-brother born shortly before the coup. To protect Kasra, Roshani is determined to kill her other siblings and end this conflict once and for all. But spies and betrayers abound in the palace, and Roshani may have more enemies within than without.
Esfandar's mind has always been more attuned to war than to the politics behind it. Shocked and outraged by his sisters' betrayals, he seeks to reclaim the throne that is rightfully his. His troops rally in support of their emperor, retaking the north from Roshani's forces. Yet doubt soon creeps into the young prince's mind. As his armies forge ahead, Esfandar will discover that governing and conquering are not one and the same.
The large personalities of Esfandar and Roshani have always outshone Soraya in the palace. Neither the shah nor the other palace lords ever concerned themselves with the quiet girl hiding behind her mother's skirts. But now, having escaped Roshani's coup, the empire has been forced to consider Soraya a threat. Protected by the priests and magis of the fire temple, Soraya's claim to the throne is the weakest. Her only hope is a strange power from the gods, one she's not even sure she can control.