Is any price too high to pay for equality and justice?
For Jemeryl, this becomes more than just a philosophical question. The future of civilisation is at stake when an ex-lover decides the answer is "no". Who is in the wrong? Is anyone in the right?
Of course, problems regarding lovers and equality is nothing new for Jemeryl. Many object to a sorcerer, like her, being involved with an ordinary woman warrior, like Tevi. This hostility is born of the distrust and disdain across the social divide between those who can work magic, and the ungifted majority, who can't. Leading the objectors is the newly elected Guardian. When he summons Jemeryl to Lyremouth alone, both she and Tevi suspect a ploy to separate them.
The task the Guardian gives Jemeryl does nothing to quash her doubts, raking up the adolescent affair with another sorcerer. Surely someone else could have been sent to dissuade her rebellious ex-lover from destroying the Protectorate. However, bonds of affection are enough to make Jemeryl accept the assignment, even though she's sure she has been told only half the true story.
But Jemeryl is wrong—she hasn't been told a tenth of it, and whatever the Guardian's intentions, when Jemeryl doesn't return, nobody can stop Tevi going after her.