The armies of the Wasp Empire are on the march, and first to feel their might will be the city of Tark, which is even now preparing for siege. Within its walls Salma and Totho must weather the storm, as the Ant-kinden take a stand – against numbers and weaponry such as the Lowlands have never seen.
And after his earlier victory, the Empire’s secret service has decided veteran artificer Stenwold Maker is too dangerous to live. So disgraced Major Thalric is despatched on a desperate mission, not only to eliminate Stenwold himself, but to bring about the destruction of his beloved city of Collegium, and thus end all hope of intelligent resistance to the remorseless imperial advance.
While the Empire’s troops are laying waste to all in their way, the young Emperor himself is treading a different path. His thoughts are on darker things than mere conquest, and if he attains his goal he will precipitate a reign of blood that will last a thousand years.