Four months ago, Netheia Isinthi failed to take her father's throne from her older sister. After refusing to publicly support the new empress, she is banished to Ieflaria's capital city, Birsgen, where she anticipates a long and uneventful exile.
Klavida of Nalova is a student at the university established by Princess Esofi for the study of magic. She has come from the far north researching Talcia's creatures-or so she claims. After a chance meeting brings the two together, Klavida wants nothing to do with the angry, ill-mannered princess. But when Netheia offers Klavida access to the royal library, Klavida decides she can tolerate her after all.
As they spend time together, Klavida realizes that Netheia is intensely lonely and has never known genuine friendship. She becomes determined to show her that there is more to life than the pursuit of power and that a peaceful life of freedom can be more satisfying than ruling an empire.
But Netheia's patron goddess is not ready to accept that she has lost the Xytan Empire-and neither are Netheia's most ardent supporters.