It's cold. The wells of power are weakening, and the forces of Night are strong. The gods are real, and they still have some power, mostly to do harm. The Instrumentalities of the Night are the worst of these. Piper Hecht, born Else Tage, survived a battle with the Instrumentalities. Now he's captain-general of the armies fighting a crusade for Patriarch Sublime V. Intrigues swirl around the throne of the Grail Empire, as the imperial family's enemy Anne of Menand raises money to help the perpetually indebted Patriarch finance his crusades. Now Piper Hecht learns that the legendary sorcerer Cloven Februaren, referred to as the Ninth Unknown, is still alive, more than one hundred years old, and on his side. As the dynastic politics of the Empire become even more convoluted, its clear that while the old gods may be fading, they're determined to do everything they can to bend the doings of men to their own advantage. Sieges, explosions, betrayals, Anti-Patriarchs, and suspicious deaths will ensue as the great chess game plays itself out, with Piper Hecht at the center of it all. Dark, exciting, gritty, and sometimes bleakly funny, this is Glen Cook in his Black Company mode, writing military fantasy of compelling intensity.
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