Rowan of the Sindari clan has been wandering for the last six years, his feats against man and beast earning him a reputation at home and abroad for his fighting prowess and bravery.
His closest friends know better, for Rowan's acts are a reckless disregard of his own life, born from the guilt and grief of a loved one's death. After years of wandering, Rowan reluctantly returns home to find that the throne of his realm has been reopened after being locked behind a magical barrier for the last seventy years.
As an Elite Sindari warrior and therefore possible claimant to the throne, Rowan's father entreats him to journey to the capital city and take the Trials for the chance to be elected king. Weary of his aimless wandering, Rowan sees the election as a way to redeem himself from his failure to save his sister. He readily vows to his father that he will do whatever it takes to pass the Trials and earn the crown.
Trying to hide the guilt and doubt from his men - old friends, new allies, and kin - Rowan begins the treacherous journey for the crown.
Kivrin is a young woman who fled her foster home and has spent two years in the West. Tired of traveling alone in fear and distrust, she yearns to return to the East and find her true family and heritage.
But she barely survived her first crossing of the mountains and has no desire to attempt it again on her own. When she discovers a group of warrior men crossing the desert wasteland to reach the mountain pass, she swallows her fear and attaches herself to the company in disguise.
When Kivrin loses her disguise in a skirmish, the Captain of the company is furious at her duplicity. Kivrin knows she must find a way to earn his trust back when he is convinced by others to let her remain with the group. If she doesn't, she may find herself abandoned to the mercy of the very beings she's been running from.