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In the royal palace of conquered Luscany, Princess Nette chafes at the bonds that confine her to a life of empty ceremony. Meanwhile, in a less salubrious quarter, Serin Guille's father scents success in his search for the secret of immortality. Then a gypsy blade flashes at the ice fair. An imperial emissary lies bleeding by the frozen river, and the uneasy peace is shattered.
The Eschalan overlords will not rest until they have revenge. Serin saw it happen, saw the blow fall. Now she can never go home . . .