When her father's kingdom finally falls, Leah and her protector, Petri, find shelter with a gypsie tribe passing through the countryside. Leah knows that Lord General Yearick is cutting a bloody path through the Realm searching for her, and that her life depends on how skillfully she can blend into the life of the gypsie camp.

For a time, Leah finds the joy of acceptance and belonging in a new family. But as she approaches womanhood, her power is growing stronger, and she has no idea how to control her frightening visions.

When tragedy strikes, Leah finds a surprising ally and safety in the unlikeliest of all places: the palace on Omana Teret, as a Cadian novice.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Paglia has discovered Marta working as a courtesan. When he claims her for his own, she has no choice but to submit. Can she keep her sanity as he subjects her to his debased appetites — or can she beat him at his own game?

Cadia-dedre Osane helps Leah to focus her gifts, and together they uncover terrible secrets. Is Chancellor Paglia plotting against the shallana breda? Is he somehow responsible for the lack of a male heir? And what is his relationship with Fortulla, the notorious witch of the Old Ways?