The Cutting Edge (A Handful of Men Series #1) by Dave Duncan
The great adventure had ended happily. The good folk of Krasnegar discovered that a beautiful princess could, indeed, succeed her royal father and rule in her own right, and rule very well, too. And when Queen Inos married Rap, the former stableboy, he turned out to be a very good king. He never admitted that he was a sorcerer, and everyone knew that Rap was a Man of His Word, so that was all right. The years passed. Rap and Inos raised a family, prospering in their remote little kingdom. But trouble was brewing in the great world outside. The aged Imperor grew ever more erratic, more tyrannical. His grandson Shandie, the boy Rap had befriended, was now a great soldier, struggling to suppress ever-growing upheaval in the borderlands while he waited to inherit the throne. Strange prophecies of upheaval and disaster spread. When the rumors reached even to Krasnegar, Rap scoffed at them as superstition--until one night a god appeared and confirmed that the truth was likely to be far worse. On his travels long ago, Rap himself had made a terrible blunder. Because of that, the world of Pandemia was now poised on the brink of utter disaster. The last thing Rap wanted was another adventure, and that might be the last thing he would ever get.