By Kathryn Tamburri



Cold, gray ash smothered a landscape of ragged timber and scorched brick. Bereaved homes immodestly displayed their burnt inner parts to the world, sere rooftops crumbling. Phantoms loomed wherever the scene’s powdery coating stirred, reminding Joaern of snow on a day much like this, two months since.



Ex-slave Letta loses everything in a single night: the family that adopted her, the man who betrothed her, even any proof that she is free. All that is left of her former life is Letta’s four-year-old brother and the fullness of her loss.

Out of darkness and legend, an impossible man materializes to rescue Letta—a man with strange weapons and stranger heritage, a man with slanted eyes and pointed ears. His intense secrecy and unyielding hatred make him a terrifying travel partner, but tricking Joaern is Letta’s best chance of getting her brother safely to the house of their married sister, all the way across the Empire. There, the child can have a future, even if Letta’s own future would still be uncertain.

Hunted by murderous bandits and caught up in the schemes of militant rebels, Letta and Joaern are forced to depend on each other for survival. It is an uneasy alliance, but it morphs into something far more dangerous—something that will threaten everything and everyone they hold dear, something that will knock askew the courses of kingdoms and wars.

The two of them are brought to a choice crueler than any demand of fate, and it will redefine everything they are.




His slanted eyes were emeralds, dark, as though recently unearthed and not yet washed or hewn—only emeralds could never endure such molten hatred in their depths, or glint with such malice in the facets.

Joaern is an Aerivite– an elf. After losing his entire tribe to genocide, the only mission that consumes him is to exact equal blood from the Bugerian Empire. 

Meeting Letta reveals just how little Joaern knows about his ancient enemy… and it is only through her that he begins to learn who his enemies truly are.


Abused by a former master, Letta doesn’t remember anything about herself. She doesn’t know her age, where’s she’s from or who her parents are, even her real name.

She was lucky in one thing: the family that purchased her adopted her as their own daughter. Unfortunately, they were too poor to remove Letta’s hika bracelets– the marks of slavery– before they died. Now Letta is in a very dangerous predicament… but she must get her brother safely to his sister in the capitol, where he can have a future.



He was struck again by her smallness, her fragility. How perverse, that it was her very weakness that had probably kept her alive these past treacherous hours.


He tossed a shoulder-length, auburn mane as he stepped into their path, a great broadsword dangling lazily from his right hand. A cocky smile toyed with his stubbled lips.

It is Mordan who captures Letta after the burning of her village and the loss of her adoptive parents. 

He is known as the Madman: a bandit, a slaver. But why does Mordan hunt Letta so tenaciously? What does he want from her?


What does he know?



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