I was afraid of the dark tide that stirred in me. I did not want any part of my mother's blood. And yet it called to me.' Imriel de la Courcel, third in line to the throne, was enslaved and tortured as a boy, leaving him scarred and wary of his future. Son of a traitor, Imriel fears the dangerous passions of his bloodline - and his potential for destruction. His beloved stepmother, exotic and lovely, has trained him in the arts of covertcy - espionage skills that will either serve his country well, or draw him into a web of corruption and treachery. Imriel will need all of these resources as he travels, incognito, to escape the demands of court and family ...What he discovers is not freedom, but a city at war, and a political game so deep that he may never escape its net.