This a novel with the theme of love and hate and the blurred distinction between them. It is about the little man finding ways to stand up to the big and powerful. Of how power is seen as beneficent by one side and oppressive by the other. It is also about how love between two people on each side need not lead to tragedy. It sets out to answer the questions of who is my enemy and what can change that answer. In a confusing world of changing values, how can one know one’s friends and one’s enemies?
For over four hundred years the small nation of the Rombuli have been bowed down under the yoke of the Parison Empire. Their ancient teacher, Nelvask the magician, had fled at the time of the Imperial conquest and had not been heard of since. The Empire is headed by the Emperor and kept together by the powerful army but under the formalities is be controlled by the mysterious sect of magicians called the Covenent. Only with the support of the Covenent can any candidate become The Emperor.
Against the background of Imperial power over the Rombuli, this is the story of Edward Eastland, torn between his hate for the Empire and his love for a girl, Kitty, who, as the daughter of the Military Governor of Rombuli, is the embodiment of Imperial superiority. Edward is a blacksmith living in a quiet corner of the Empire called Rombuli with his parents and sister. His father is a trader, one of the few Rombuli allowed to carry on his trade outside of the Province in which he lives. For all his short life, Edward had been ordered by his father to hide his power from the Imperial officials and most notably from the Covenent.Edward can only learn about the uses of his power and its limitations in private away from the prying eyes of both the Imperial Officials and other Rombuli. Much to his annoyance, Edward is ordered to escort the daughter of the Imperial Governor round Alskar Province where he lives. Though at first he finds the task repulsive, after a while Kitty and Edward become tentative friends.
All this changes when the Rombuli are forced to confront their position in the Empire during the preparations for the Emperor to visit this out flung province of his Empire. Though The Imperial Officials demands that the Rombuli provide an escort for the Emperor and those chosen with the help of the Covenent are sent away to the capital. One of Edward’s friends tries to disobey the order and is knocked to the ground and paralysed by a wave of one of the Covenenter’s hands. Edward confronts the Covenenter by using his power to shield himself. Though not chosen for the escort Edward is ordered to the capital to help with the horses of the Rombuli troop.
Wrenched from the quiet Rombuli backwater of Alskar, his home, Edward is forced to go to Nimmar, the capital of Rombuli.In Nimmar, he finds out the true extent of Imperial might and the subjugation of his people but once more meets Kitty. He has a great time during the visit of the Emperor, escorting Kitty to all the official engagements and starting to get pulled into the Imperial Circles. His conscience often troubles him as he confronts the question of being true to the Rombuli or becoming a servant of the Empire?
Discovering the whereabouts of the captured regalia of the past Rombuli nation, Edward rejects Kitty and hatches a plot to steal the symbols of nationhood back for the Rombuli people.Using his strange powers, Edward helps his friends steal the symbols and while they escape, he stays behind in Nimmar to face the might and magic powers of the strange sect called the Covenent.
Battered and in pain from resisting the Covenent, Edward is rescued from his ordeal by Kitty and her soldier brother Boric. Awaiting a trial by the Governor of Rombuli, Edward gets a message from his father that there is trouble in Alskar and, with the help of Kitty, escapes and rushes home.
In a fight over the Covenent trying to recapture the symbols of nationhood, all of Edward’s family is killed and he is left to wander Alskar province alone. Wandering for a number of years, getting work where ever the opportunity arises, Edward is at last confronted by Boric and forced back to Nimmar to help the Empire which is on the verge of collapse.
There he meets Kitty and is set the task by the last Covenenter in Rombuli to find Nelvask. With Kitty’s help he finds his teacher. At last Kitty and Edward are married by the mysterious priest of Rombuli called Nelvask.
The book has the theme of trying to resolve the dichotomy of hate but love and friendship for parts of what is hated. Of why hate can turn to, if not love, then accommodation if a far greater threat is encountered.
The Empire is disintegrating. There has been no contact with Parison for months. Nothing gets through whether messages carried by people or by thought transfer. There are signs that the rest of the Empire is gearing up for war. At a Council meeting in Nimmar, it is decided to set free and mobilise the Rombuli people to counter this threat. Edward has to gather people with the talent for thought transfer to give the army a communications system.
After gathering his people, it is then decided to send Edward, Boric and Boric's bodyguard Tag on a mission to find out what has happened in the rest of the Empire. They escort Edward’s group to their war positions through Sardonia but on the way they encounter the all powerful Magumbwe chasing a Covenenter with some knowledge of the invading forces. Edward translocate the Covenenter back to Nimmar and Nelvask sends the Magumbwe back to their home.
After delivering his people to their positions with the Army, Edward, Boric and Tag travel through the mountains to the northern province of Wallonia.There the fighting has already started but they manage to find the two Covenenters they were sent to find. During the battle, they discover the secret of the invading forces power by using Edward’s powers but cannot stop the inevitable defeat of the Wallonian army. Fleeing from the battle field, they are separated from the Covenenters who escape through the mountains back to Rombuli.When Ashurt the capital of Wallonia falls they have witnessed the the Empire has finally crumbling with only Rombuli left.
Not being able to return directly to Rombuli, Edward and his friends flee through the moors to the west and into the Ancient Forest. There they confront a party of Elves and are escorted back to the Golden City. During a mind meld, Edward finds out about the ancient war between the Elves and of the exiling of the Sea Elves through a portal to another world. The Elves insist that two of their brethren ride with Edward to help in their search for a way back to Rombuli.
They pass through a land of tribes. It is a land and very little civilisation. Then onto the site of the battle which had raged for fifty years. They have to fight transfigured creatures who want Edward’s power to sustain their lives and to escape, Edward has to kill the leader.
Travelling on, they come to the banks of Lake Tremin into the grip of Ironfist and his General. Boric is arrested and gravely injured in the struggle. A stranger who speaks Rombuli helps Edward find the jail where his friends are being kept. Edward uses his powers to help them escape and they make for the mountains.Seemingly trapped, they are again rescued by a mysterious tribe who live in hidden valleys in the mountains. Edward discovers these tribes are related to the Rombuli but Boric dies.With the help of the lost tribes, Edward and Tag take Boric's body back to Rombuli part of which is still precariously held by Imperial troops.