Captured by slave traders in the inhospitable desert, Lazar fought his way to freedom, earning the coveted position of Spur of Percheron. Charged with protecting his adopted city from enemies on both sides of its walls, he has led a charmed life as confidant to and protector of Zar Joreb for many years. But now Joreb is dead. . . .
Though Joreb's well-intentioned fifteen-year-old heir, Boaz, will take the title of Zar, the balance of power lies in the hands of his beautiful and cruelly ambitious mother, a former harem slave who rose to power by the Zar's favor. Aside from Lazar, whom Boaz trusts and respects, the young Zar's only friend is Pez, the court jester, a misshapen dwarf whose tricks and diversions are accepted only because he is known to be mad.
When a stunning young girl is brought to the palace to fill a space in Boaz's harem, both Boaz and Lazar are surprised by their unexpectedly strong reactions to her. But Ana, the odalisque, finds the closeted world of the harem stifling and unbearable. And unbeknownst to all, the gods themselves are beginning to rise in a cyclical battle that is just beginning, and will enmesh everyone in the palace in a struggle for the very soul of Percheron.
Without Lazar's guiding hand and presence, the Stone Palace of Percheron has become a different place. Young Zar Boaz, mistrusting of his mother, Herezah, but too inexperienced to stand on his own, seeks counsel from the suddenly changed and secretive Vizier, who has a sinister agenda of his own.
As Herezah privately grieves for Lazar, she hatches an audacious plot to destroy the odalisque Ana, who flouts the rules of the harem but has found a measure of protection in having caught the eye of Zar Boaz. And Ana shoulders a tremendous burden of guilt as she matures from a beautiful girl into a stunning young woman . . . and fears what her future in the harem might hold.
Yet Lazar, unbeknownst to nearly everyone in the palace, is slowly recovering on a secret island. As he struggles to return to health, war from a distant realm threatens Percheron, and, as the cyclical battle of the gods continues to build, the first of the Goddess's disciples falls into the grip of the demon Maliz. Success or failure—for both Percheron and Lyana—hinges on Lazar, whose illness has left him with a new gift he fears is a curse, and if he cannot take action soon, all may well be lost.