Every child in the Blessed Citadel learns the history of the city as soon as they learn to read: five centuries ago, the gods and mages allied to wage war on their ancestors, the citizens of Thress, and were defeated by them. Now Thress is the richest and most powerful nation in the known world, thanks to the greatest spoil from that war – the mages themselves. Generations have been pressed into servitude to protect Thress and build its wealth, kept in check by an elite regiment of troops known as the Venators. Now the sovereign, Lord Mallag, has unveiled the most ambitious project yet, a complex network of energy produced by the mages to light and power the capital and eventually the entire nation.
But Thress's greatest achievment masks a growing crisis. How much more can be asked of the mages? And are they exploited slaves, or a threat to be contained? Venator Marlaine van Asrak is clear about her duty: to put down any rebellion among the mages. In the nation of Skeele, a scholar mage is equally certain of his quest: to peel away the myth from the real events of the war between men and mages, and to preserve that truth at all costs. But duty and truth can be destructive forces in a world where the dead can live again and history has been rewritten by the victors. When Marlaine meets the scholar, their lives are changed forever, and the future of Thress and the known world is thrown into chaos.
The gods are awakened, and men must fight mages again.