In the land of Volstov, Owen Adamo, the hard-as-nails ex–Chief Sergeant of the Dragon Corps, learns that Volstov’s ruler, the Esar, is secretly pursuing plans to resurrect magically powered sentient robot dragons—even at the risk of igniting another war. Though Adamo is not without friends—the magician Royston and former corpsman Balfour—there is only so much he and his allies can do. Adamo has been put out to pasture, given a professorship at the University. Royston, already exiled once, dares not risk the Esar’s wrath again. And Balfour, who lost both his hands in the war, is now a diplomat—and still trying to master the metal replacements that have earned him various nicknames . . . of which “Steelhands” is the least offensive.
But sometimes help comes where it’s least expected. In this case, from two students: Laurence, a feisty young woman raised by her father to be the son he never had, and Toverre, her brilliant if neurotic fiancé. When a mysterious illness strikes the university, Laurence takes her suspicions to Adamo—and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change Volstov forever.
During the war between the kingdoms of Volstov and Ke-Han, no fighter could match Rook for sheer arrogance and skill. Only Rook could ride the great dragon Havemercy, whose savagery and bloodlust matched his own. His brother, Thom, is bookish, diffident, and reserved, yet he yearns for Rook’s approval—and fears he can never earn it. With the war over, and an uneasy truce between the two nations, Thom hopes the long-lost brothers can bond on a trip together.
But Rook cares only that Havemercy lies scattered in pieces across Ke-Han—and someone is buying up her parts, and those of other fallen dragons. The beasts are dead, but the magic that powered them is not. And now a Ke-Han agent, a Volstov sorceress, and a group of desert tribesmen are vying to possess that magic and control the future.
Led to victory by its magic-fueled Dragon Corps, Volstov has sent a delegation to its conquered neighbors to work out the long-awaited terms of peace. Among those in the party are the decorated war hero General Alcibiades and the formerly exiled magician Caius Greylace. But even this mismatched pair can’t help but notice that their defeated enemies aren’t being very cooperative. The hidden truth is that the new emperor is harboring a treacherous secret—and once it is revealed, Alcibiades and Caius may be powerless to stop it.
With their only ally an exiled prince now fleeing his brother’s assassins, the countryside rife with terror, and Alcibiades and Caius all but prisoners, it will take the most powerful kind of magic to heal the rift between two strife-worn lands and unite two peoples against a common enemy: shadow magic.
This stunning epic fantasy debut introduces two exciting new authors—and a world brimming with natural and man-made wonders, extraordinary events, and a crisis that will test the mettle of men, the boundaries of magic, and the heart and soul of a kingdom.
Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years’ war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps’s mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov’s greatest weapon. But now one of its members is at the center of a scandal that may turn the tide of victory. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save their kingdom: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student—and the unpredictable ace who flies the city’s fiercest dragon, Havemercy. But on the eve of battle, these courageous men will face something that could make the most formidable of warriors hesitate, the most powerful of magicians weak, and the most unlikely of men allies in their quest to rise against it.