In the second instalment of Raymond E Feist's new fantasy series, the Conclave demands its membership price from their protégé: Tal must gather information on the sinister magician Laso Varen, whose master is Duke Kaspar of Olasko.
Talon, orphan of the Orosini tribe and last of his people, has been transformed by the 'Conclave Of Shadows' from a trusting young boy to the dashing young nobleman, Talwin Hawkins - educated, confident, and now Roldem's premier swordsman. The title, won at the Master's Court in front of the King, brought him a step closer to his desire: to avenge the massacre of his family, and so far he has dispatched two participants in that slaughter, Lieutenant Campaneal and Raven.
But still Tal's lust for vengeance will not be sated until the reasons behind his people's massacre, and more recent killings, have been uncovered and their architect revealed and punished. The Conclave demands its price from Tal: he must gather information on Laso Varen, a magician of terrible power and subtle craft, dangerous beyond contemplation. To do this means service with the sorcerer's master, Duke Kaspar of Olasko - and swearing loyalty to the very man he suspects of killing his family, even if it means becoming the Duke's right-hand man and tracking down his enemies - the members of the Conclave and Tal's own friends.