The fire mystic Senneth crosses the country of Gillengaria on a mission for the king, trying to discover if noble marlords from the Twelve Houses are planning an uprising. She is accompanied by the soldiers Justin and Tayse, two King's Riders who are unswervingly loyal to the crown. Also on the journey are the shape-changers Kirra and Donnal, and a young mystic named Cammon who can practically read minds.
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Noble-born shape-shifter Kirra Danalustrous has accepted her father's invitation to style herself as her sister - the heir of Danalustrous - and attend all the social events being held by the Twelve Houses. She is accompanied by Donnal, a peasant and shape-shifter who has served her most of her life. She is delighted to learn that Senneth, Tayse, Justin and Cammon will also be making the social circuit as they escort Princess Amalie to the summer balls.
The Rider Justin is sent to the small town of Neft, so he can spy on the nearby Lumanen Convent where the Daughters of the Pale Mother reside. He quickly learns that Coralinda Gisseltess, the leader of the Daughters, is indeed persecuting mystics and the people who shelter them. Even more quickly, he falls in love with Ellynor, one of the convent novices. But the courtship is perilous in the extreme.
King Baryn has decided that if he marries his daughter Amalie to a high-ranking noble, the rebellious marlords might be pacified and he might be able to avert a war. So he invites all the young serramar to the royal city to court his daughter. To protect Amalie from any unsavory suitors, the mystic Cammon is installed to monitor all of Amalie's courtships, because Cammon is a reader who can tell if someone harbors violence or malevolence in his heart.
Sharon Shinn returns with a new novel set in the Twelve Houses world, where a troubled Warrior Rider named Wen faces her greatest challenge in the last place she ever expected: behind the walls of a great family estate known as Fortune, where Wen has been hired to guard the young heiress. Once there, she will find that fate has other plans for her.