Black Shrike [The Swordmage Cycle IV]by T. J. Lazier
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Avian, Nicky, Gadwin and Jaim have returned from their perilous journey to Tardan Doring only to find themselves beginning an even more dangerous mission. The Queen's life is in danger from her own daughter, who is scheming with the sinister Black Shrike cult to murder the Queen and usurp the throne. Working with the legendary White Guardian, the four companions determine to follow the plot to its roots. Meanwhile Avian has been targeted by Black Shrike assassins who are seeking a mysterious magical amulet Avian has discovered. Nicky becomes a Queen's Handmaid (a pleasure servant at the Royal Court) to learn more about the evil schemers who surround the throne. Then Avian's amulet is stolen by the Black Shrike, leading Avian, Gadwin and Jaim to track the amulet to the cult's secret lair. But, Nicky has a vision of the three in deadly danger. And, indeed, they are! For the trio has been discovered in the Black Shrike's sanctuary spying on a clandestine meeting between the Queen's daughter and Kandor, the powerful sorcerer who is high priest of the cult. Outnumbered by the cult's guards, helpless before Kandor's awesome powers, Avian, Gadwin and Jaim prepare to sell their lives dearly. But, if they fall to the Black Shrike's blades, an innocent kingdom will fall into the hands of Kandor and the black gods he serves. Adult situations and sexuality.
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