Rohan is heir to the throne of The Desert and its chief holding, Stronghold.
His father, Prince Zehava, is unsure of his son's ability to rule, but is wounded
in a dragon hunt and Rohan is suddenly the ruling Prince. He must solidify his
right to rule by outwitting The Desert's antagonists, chiefly the High Prince
Roelstra, in order to protect his lands and maintain peace throughout the world.
His aunt, Andrade, the Lady of Goddess Keep and highest ranking of the
Sunrunners, gifted humans who can use light to communicate, warns that the
High Prince will try to take over the Desert by marrying one of his daughters to
Rohan and then killing him. To decline a royal marriage would in turn insult
Roelstra, so she offers a marriage with Sioned, another of her Sunrunners.
Marriage between a prince and a Sunrunner is unheard of, but Rohan is smitten
by a vision of Sioned that Andrade conjures in fire for him.
Rohan persuades Sioned to help him trick High Prince Roelstra into signing
various treaties while he pretends to choose between princesses. Sioned
pretends to be unsure of Rohan as her groom, and the two have a merry time
with their charade at the tri-annual Rialla (a fair and gathering of princes held
every three years). Rohan pretends to be a foolish, ignorant young man. The
other princes initially believe the masquerade. Roelstra, in turn, is interested in
Sioned, both as a woman and a faradhi.
High Prince Roelstra is an evil, cunning man - and the father of seventeen
daughters. Despite a marriage and a series of mistresses, he never succeeds
at conceiving a son and heir. His latest mistress, Lady Palila, is pregnant during
he Rialla. Roelstra's eldest daughter, Princess Ianthe, schemes with her sister Pandsala to switch Palila's baby for a girl if it is a son. Pandsala, thinking Roelstra will marry her to Prince Rohan if Palila helps her, plans to turn the tables on Ianthe and help Palila switch another daughter for a boy. They bring four pregnant waiting-women along, planning to induce labor in them when Palila's begins.
Rohan and Roelstra ultimately spar over Sioned, and Roelstra is infuriated to discover Rohan played him for a fool. Ianthe betrays Palila and her sister, and gains her father's trust. Roelstra turns Pandsala and the new baby, named Chiana (for "treason" in an old language), to Andrade. He burns Palila alive in her bed.
Rohan and Sioned are married and return to the Desert, but Sioned fails to conceive a hoped-for heir. She suffers a series of miscarriages, and the entire realm is decimated by Plague in the ensuing years. Sioned is comforted by a vision of herself with Rohan's child at her breast, although she knows she cannot bear his baby.
Ianthe captures Rohan and seduce him, convincing the drugged prince she is Sioned. She also captures Sioned, locked her in a lightless dungeon and allowed her castle guards to rape her. Rohan discovers the truth and violently rapes Ianthe. Sioned realizes the child in her vision is Ianthe's, and refrains from killing her when Ianthe finally releases them.
Rohan and Sioned return to find Stronghold besieged. Rohan goes to war with Roelstra while Sioned waits out Ianthe's pregnancy. Rohan doubts he can claim this child as his, although Sioned is confident they can win over Roelstra and claim Ianthe's son as their own.
Sioned returns to Feruche, steals Ianthe's newborn son, and burns Castle Feruche to the ground. Sioned names the child Pol, which means "star" in the Old Tongue. Rohan kills Roelstra in a duel and becomes High Prince in his stead. The novel ends with the other princes proclaiming fealty to High Prince Rohan and High Princess Sioned, and accepting Prince Pol, the new Sunrunner heir.
While on Dorval, the Sunrunner Meath uncovers ancient scrolls in the
Sunrunner ruins. Concerned about the content and odd star symbols,
Meath decides to take the scrolls to the leader of the Sunrunners, Andrade.
Lady Andrade appoints Andry to translate the scrolls with the help of Hollis,
his brother Maarken's unofficial betrothed. As Andry and Hollis work through
the translation and the embedded code, they learn that the scrolls deal with
ancient sorcerers and sorcery. They are unaware that the scrolls' existence
and rediscovery is known to sorcerers in hiding. Mireva, a sorceress, forms
a plan to retrieve the scrolls. One of her charges, Segev, Ianthe's youngest
son, travels to Goddess Keep to pose as a young faradhi in order to steal the
scrolls. He addicts Hollis to dranath as a cohort, but Andry disrupts Segev's
Meanwhile, an arrogant upstart called Masul attempts to proclaim himself
Roelstra's son and heir. The whispers of this heir lead to an assassination
attempt on Pol's life. To proclaim Pol's position as Prince of Princemarch,
Rohan and Pol progresses through Princemarch. Pol meets the local Lords
and earns his people's favor by participating in their traditions. Unfortunately,
another assassination attempt is made, this time ending in Maeta's death.
At the Rialla, most of the discussion is over Masul, whether or not he is
Roelstra's heir, and whether or not it even matters. As the Princes debate
the issue, Segev continues to drug Hollis, who in turn draws away from
Maarken. Then, Andrade claims that she can show the events of the past by
using sorcery from the scrolls. Gleeful at the turn of events, Segev uses
sorcery during her conjuring in order to kill her. Andry becomes Lord of Goddess Keep. Though saddened by Andrade's death, the debate of Masul continues; her conjure proved nothing. At last a duel is proposed between Masul and Pol. Maarken fights in Pol's place as Pol has yet to be knighted. During the battle, Segev uses sorcery against Maarken. Seeing Maarken in pain snaps Hollis out of her drugged state, and she kills Segev. Masul nearly kills Maarken, but at the last minute, Rohan intervenes and kills him with a pair of thrown daggers.
As the Desert entourage travels home, accompanied by Hollis, who is slowly recovering, a valley filled with dragons is discovered. The site will become Pol's palace, Dragon's Rest. Sioned, who had earlier 'bumped' into a dragon on sunlight, attempts to 'speak' with a dragon. This time she succeeds and a bond is formed between human and dragon.
Part One: Andry, the new Lord of Goddess Keep, has visions of war and death.
He sees the destruction of Radzyn, its proud towers ablaze. To prevent his
visions, he reworks the teachings and rituals of Goddess Keep based on the
findings of the Star Scroll. He also trains Sunrunners in sorcery. Meanwhile, t
rue sorcerers ready themselves to challenge Pol's right to Princemarch. Ruval,
Ianthe's oldest, undisputed son, prepared for the challenge by learning sorcery,
while Marron infiltrates Chiana of Meadowlord's personal guards. When he
gets close enough, he allows Mireva to enter Chiana's chamber and enspell
he Princess with a mirror. Chiana then begins to amass an army, which will
Part Two: Year 728: Pol, now Ruling Prince of Princemarch, seeks to become
the man and Prince that his parents, High Prince Rohan and High Princess
Sioned raised him to be, but his spirit is impatient and restless. When word
comes that dragons are being hunted, Pol follows Riyan and Sorin to Elktrap
Manor. They find a dying dragon nearby, who shows them that men had
attacked it using sorcery. The attackers were Ruval and Marron, who had
been trying to get Pol's attention. A battle ensues. Sorin is killed.
As the Desert mourns, Ruval enlists Prince Miyon of Cunaxa's aid in
overthrowing Pol. He and Marron hide in Miyon's entourage as the
Prince travels to Stronghold on business before the Rialla, while Mireva
becomes a servant of Miyon's illegitimate daughter, Meiglan. Meiglan would - unknowingly - be used to ensnare Pol.
As Pol prepares for the challenge Ruval will make, he begins to fall for Meiglan despite his suspicions of her. Before Ruval can make his challenge, however, Marron challenges Pol himself for Feruche, their birthplace. Riyan, who had only moments ago had been made Lord of Feruche, accepts Marron's challenge of sorcery. As Marron forms his first spell, Andry turns it back on the sorcerer by using his knowledge of the Star Scroll. He kills Marron in retribution for Sorin's death. This act results in Andry's banishment from the Desert.
When Ruval's challenge finally comes, on starlight, Rohan realizes that Pol needs to be told the truth about birth: that Ianthe bore him and he was a diarmadhi. Pol is horrified and angry, but uses his newfound knowledge to study the sorcery in the scrolls. He and Ruval meet at Rivernrock and the rabikor begins. During the battle, Ruval tries to pull a dragon from the sky, but Pol bonds with it. The dragon, Azhdeen, kills Ruval, ending the threat to Pol's claim on Princemarch.
After the trials and tribulations faced with the High Prince and others,
Rohan, Sioned, Pol and Andry along with the rest of their families and f
riends, must defend their land against a large army of barbarians. No one
knows where this army comes from or why they are attacking the
Continent - or focusing on the Desert, High Prince Rohan's beloved homeland.
Rohan and Pol are forced to flee across the Desert as they are pursued by
the invaders. Along the way, they discover the enemy's fear of dragons.
For a while the Desert forces are able to outsmart the enemy, but at the
Battle of Stronghold the High Warlord arrives with his elite forces.
The island and southern princedoms are overrun with invaders. The Dorvali
are forced to flee their island, but Ludhill, Prince Chadric's heir, and his wife
stay on the island and form a resistance. Prince Kostas of Syr revels in l
eading his army and manages to secure his princedom. Rohannon defends
Kierst after the death of Prince Volog, and manages to fend off the invaders
by having the army pad their armor to look like women. Andry protects
Goddess Keep by using a ros'alath, a sorcerous wall, which terrorizes and
kills those who touch it.
Pol is torn between anger and guilt at his father's death and relief that he can finally act out against the invading Vellant'im. As he and his mother, Sioned, try to uncover more about the invaders, they discover hidden secrets within an ancient mirror that had belonged to Sioned's old friend, Camigwen. An ancient sorcerer, Lord Rosseyn, is trapped within the mirror. Rosseyn tells Pol of his past and teaches him more about his sorcerous heritage. Meanwhile, Pol's wife and daughters are attacked by the Vellant'im. High Princess Meiglan and Rislyn are taken captive, but Andry, who had been travelling from Goddess Keep, saves Jihan.
The southern princedoms are slowly being reclaimed,although many lives are lost, including Prince Kostas of Syr and Rihani of Ossetia. The Dorvali resistance mounts raids on the enemy, preventing them from joining the forces on the Continent, and Kierst-Isel remains secure. Goddess Keep is guarded by the Devr'im in Andry's absence.
Other princedoms, such as Grib and Fessenden, have so far remained neutral, but ambitious and/or devoted Princes try to rouse their fathers and their people.
In Firon the sorcerers capture the royal seat in Balarat and control the princedom through young Prince Tirel. Idalain, Tirel's squire in the absence of the boy's father, tries to protect the boy, but is forced to pretend he is unaware that the princedom is being overtaken. Yarin, a sorcerer and Tirel's uncle, names himself Regent of Firon. In order to keep Idalain busy, Yarin orders the squire to teach his kinsman, Aldiar, swordplay.
As the Vellanti War continues, Pol, his family, and allies must hurry to discover a weakness in their enemies and must overcome past hatreds in order to work together.
As the death toll rises and Pol's list of allies grows ever thinner, he must
work with people once thought enemies and join all the forces of the
Continent together in order to defeat the Vellant'im.
Pol discovers allies in the Sorcerers of the Old Blood, who will help him
defeat the invading Vellant'im. With this new found strength and the
knowledge gained from Lord Rosseyn in the mirror, Pol, Sioned, and the
other Lords of the Desert begin to form a plan for their last stand.
A ros'alath, much like the one used previously at Goddess Keep, would be
constructed by Pol and Andry with the aide of the Sunrunners of Goddess
Keep. The main difference between the two walls being that this one would
not kill. The diarmadh'im would be woven into the wall in order to withstand
the steel blades of the enemies and protect the faradh'im, though they
refused to be wove by Andry due to the Lord of Goddess Keep's
transgressions against them.
In Firon, Aldiar helps Idalian and Tirel escape. He then saves them and Prince
Laric's entourage from a blizzard. During the journey to Balarat, Firon's royal
seat, Aldiar discovers that Rohannon had become addicted to dranath. With
Arlis' permission, Aldiar purges the drug from Rohannon's system. Rohannon
then discovers that Aldiar is in fact a sorcerer and a woman, Aldiara. After
Rohannon's recovery, the group makes their way North to reclaim Laric's
To the South, Ostvel is able to infiltrate Meadowlord and secure the princedom from both the traitorous Chiana and the Vellant'im. Tilal's army meets up with the remnants of his brother's army, now led by ,Saumer of Kierst-Isel, and together they head North into the Desert. Along the way they stop to retrieve the Dragon Tears, which were used to protect Faolain Riverport.
Prince Amiel of Gilad takes control of an army of physicians and aides whatever people he can. Prince Elsen of Grib, although crippled, rides to the aide of Goddess Keep, when it once again falls under attack. These Princes, along with other personages of power, joined the war at last, forsaking their Ruling Princes' stances of neutrality.
Back in The Desert, Sioned and the other ladies form a plan to diminish the Vellanti army and rid the invaders of their superstitious priests. The women pose as servants, while Ruala 'gives' Skybowl to the Vellanti High Warlord. The women then proceed to give the priests poisoned food. The priests die, but the women are caught and held captive.
The final battle begins. Pol is able to free Sioned, who is able to weave all the faradhi and diarmadhi minds that Pol calls together. Andry and his Sunrunners are also in the weaving. The ros'salath is formed, but a call for blood is heard and dragons enter the weaving. Andry wrests control from Pol, and the ros'salath begins to kill. Pol calls on more minds in an attempt to regain control. Aldiar (really Aldiara) offers Pol access to all the sorcerers' minds in Balarat - her kinsmen. With this new strength of diarmadhi minds, Pol is able to overpower Andry. The ros'salath stops killing; instead it renders nearly all the Vellant'im unconscious.
Seeing his army crumble, the High Warlord kills Meiglan. Pol, enraged, kills him. Andry, whose mind had been stretched between this weaving, Goddess Keep, and a dragon, is lost on the light. To the North, Aldiara, Rohannon, and her kinsmen are immobile. Prince Laric is easily able to reclaim his princedom.
In the end, the Vellant'im are all rounded up and shipped back to the Vellanti Islands, along with Chiana and her son, who had aided them. Ostvel is named Prince of Meadowlord and Chayla is named Lady of Goddess Keep. Pol is officially confirmed as High Prince, the Faradh'rei and the Diarmadh'rei.