Talon, orphan of the Orosini tribe has been transformed by the Conclave of Shadows from a trusting young boy to the dashing young nobleman Talwin Hawkins: Roldem's premier swordsman. The title, won at the Masters' Court, in front of the King, brought him a step closer to his desire - to avenge the massacre of his family. Two culprits are already dead by his hand; Lieutenant Campaneal fell under Tal's blade during the Masters' Tournament and the other, Raven, died whilst attempting to butcher an Orodon village, just as he destroyed Tal's people. But Tal will not rest until the reason for the massacres has been uncovered and their architect revealed and punished. The Conclave demands its membership price from Tal: he must gather information on Leso Varen, a magician dangerous beyond contemplation. And to do this means service with the sorcerer's master, Duke Kaspar of Olasko - swearing loyalty to the very man he suspects of slaughtering his family, even if it means becoming the Duke's right-hand man and tracking down his enemies - the members of the Conclave and Talon's own friends.