When Alaen returns home from abroad in order to attend his father the king’s deathbed, he doesn’t expect to find the monarch raving about poisonings, assassins, and mysterious disappearances. Nor does he expect to be forced to promise that he will pretend to be a careless dandy and puppet king after his father’s death in order to escape assassination by his own regent and uncle. Yet as Alaen uncovers evidence after evidence of his uncle’s lust for power and the lengths to which the regent will go to keep it, he realizes that his father’s ravings were truth. Anxious to preserve his life and that of his beloved sister, he hides behind the masquerade of a foppish fool. But will Alaen’s disguise prove to be enough to save him from his uncle’s dangerous machinations? Will he be able to continue when it becomes apparent that his charade is hurting everyone around him? Will he be able to prevent himself from becoming the man he pretends to be? And what will he do when he discovers that the throne on which he sits was usurped half a century ago from its rightful owner?
Years have passed since Nalycia’s peace was broken by rebellion, and its occurrence has been erased from the memories of all but a privileged few. Yet as the land becomes a shadow of its former self under the hand of tyrannical regent, change is coming. The people are becoming restless and anxious, and when one who claims to be the descendant of the rightful sovereign appears, they rally behind him. As battle lines are drawn between the opposing forces, will Nalycia be plunged into a bloody civil war, or will one man make the only sacrifice that will stem the flood?
No one will escape unscathed.