First of a new trilogy and sequel to The Death of the Necromancer (1998), set in a world where magic and alchemy both work. Ile-Rien and the city Vienne are under attack from mysterious antagonists known as the Gardier; their black airships are invulnerable to the Rienish wizards' most powerful spells, their bombs have devastated the city, and their terrifying spell causing electrical and mechanical devices to explode cannot be countered. When crime lord Nicholas Valiarde discovered the Gardier, his sidekick, Arisilde, Ile-Rien's most powerful wizard, built a strange magical sphere before both he and Arisilde vanished in a blaze of light and were presumed dead. Now, five years later, Tremaine, Nicholas's suicidal daughter, stumbles upon the original sphere dusty and neglected in a cupboard. Activated by the wizard Gerard, it transports him, Tremaine, and several others to another world where, on a fog-bound island riddled with caves and studded with the ruins of a gargantuan city, they discover a Gardier base. This world's natives have no advanced technology and fear magic—all wizards here are evil psychotics—but they do have elemental “gods” and a burning desire to eject the Gardier. Tremaine learns that the sphere might be alive—and, while being pursued, forming an alliance with the natives Giliead and Ilias, being captured, escaping, resisting the Gardier and discovering their weaknesses, she uncovers abilities she never knew she had, and develops a steely resolve to overcome their adversaries.
Wrenches the Valiarde saga into a whole new dimension of wonder, tension, and excitement.