Once Chime had been the most promising mage in the land, feted and celebrated for her potential and future role in the kingdom. Then Iris, her young competitor, made a stunning leap in skill and turned Chime's world upside down. Now no longer the most powerful, no longer promised to a prince - and still unable to harness her magic properly - Chime was set adrift. As was the new king's cousin - and former heir - Lord Muller.
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Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, returns to the world of Aronsdale, a place rich with magic and power. One generation after war had nearly destroyed three nations, evil was returning. And only Mel Dawnfield's daring sacrifice could stop it… The promise of peace rested on this young woman's noble vow: to marry Cobalt the Dark - heir to a family of legendary cruelty.
With no teacher to guide her, no mentor to discourage her from the impossible, Mel Dawnfield pushed her magic to its limits - and surpassed them. Only to find that her powers aren't enough to halt burgeoning rebellion within her husband's fledgling realm - or a plot devised to strike at the very heart of Mel's family. The lines have been drawn. Mel's mage strength has become greater than any power ever known, but dare she forge her spells into weapons to protect her people, her husband? For her magic might transform the brutality of war into the birth pangs of a peaceful empire - unless it proves the death blow to her world.
Deep in the sun-drenched desert, priestess Ginger-Sun carries the power of shape mages. And whispers abound: Is she descended from the beloved Sunset Goddess? Or are her nighttime rituals filled with wickedness? Ginger herself is uncertain, until a stranger is left for dead at her feet. Thence her magic begins to burn. Fate makes Ginger the stranger's wife and therefore a target for those who would murder this man to crown another - and force her magic into twisted ferocity. For unless Ginger masters her dark powers, violence will rein in Taka Mal - and in her soul.
For centuries the women of Aronsdale have lived freely among the green and misted valleys. Creatures of exotic beauty and sensuality, they possess powerful skills of enchantment…and young Allegro is no different. But her life - and Aronsdale's independence - is threatened when Jazid nomads invade, carrying Allegro into the desert as a prized trophy…or worse. Until an unexpected ally falls under her spell. From the moment feared Jazid warrior Markus Onyx sees the alluring beauty, he knows he has found his queen. But even the promise of love cannot quell Allegro's determination to save her homeland.