Earth *** Air *** Water *** Fire
These elements have sustained the peaceful people of
Shaftal for generations, with their subtle powers of
healing, truth, joy, and intuition.
But now Shaftal is dying.
The earth witch who ruled Shaftal is dead, leaving no heir.
Shaftal's ruling house has been scattered and destroyed by
the invading sainnites. The Shaftali have mobilized a
guerrilla army against these marauders, but every year the
cost of resistance grows, leaving Shaftal's fate in the
hands of three people:
* Emil the Shaftali Paladin: an officer and a scholar whose
elemental powers make him an excellent judge of character;
* Zanja the diplomat: the sole survivor of a slaughtered
tribe, her fire powers bringing the gift of prescience:
* Karis the metalsmith: a half-blood giant whose earth
powers can heal and create, but only when she can muster
the strength to hold off her addition to a deadly drug that
suspends her will.
Separately, all they can do is watch as Shaftal falls from
prosperity into lawlessness and famine. If they can find a
way to work together, they may just change the course of
In the tradition of Ursula K. Le Guin and Elizabeth Lynn,
Laurie Marks weaves a complex tale of political and
personal struggle, set in a world whose concerns are as
familiar as today's headlines.