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From Barnes & NobleMichelle West writes in a strong, compelling voice unique in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. This book, the story of Serra Diora Maria di'Marano, the most beautiful woman in the Dominion of Annagar, who is caught up in a power struggle to control the land's destiny, is no exception. Richly detailed, wonderfully told, it is both a multilayered portrait of a woman of conscience caught in circumstances beyond her control and a study of the Byzantine politics of the Imperial Court. A strong story, stronger characters, and a richly realized and detailed world combine to make this a powerful novel. For many writers, this book could easily serve as their magnum opus, their crowning achievement. For West, however, I suspect that it's only an indication of things to come.