Five days after Daymon’s coronation, the imperial forces laid siege to the city of Belduar. All four Kingdoms of the Dwarven Freehold fight alongside the Belduarans, after Kira had come to Belduar’s aid when the Fade attacked. Calenfights on the city’s walls alongside his companions, but during the chaos, he gets separated from all but Erik and Valerys.
Three of the Dragonguard appear and, with many of the Bolt Throwers destroyed by the Fade’s attack five days prior, tear the city apart with fire and fury.
Calen, Erik, and Valerys fight their way through the Lorian soldiers to find aid in the form of King Daymon, Lord Ihvon Arnell, and Lord-Captain Tarmon Hoard. They try to mount a defence but the Dragonguard are too powerful. With the city lost, Tarmon tries to convince Daymon to sound a retreat through the Wind Tunnels, but Daymon is furious at the suggestion of retreat. It takes both Calen and Tarmon to convince Daymon that he needs to sound the retreat to save the lives of his people.
Calen stays back on a Wind Runner platform and covers Tarmon and the Kingsguards’ retreat once the last of the last of the Belduarans have retreated down the tunnels. He finds Vaeril – one of the elves that swore an oath to protect him.
When the Kingsguard retreat, and the Lorians flood into the courtyard after them, Calen leaps from the platform to aid the retreat. Vaeril joins him and the pair attempt to bring down the entrances to the courtyard using the Spark. Vaeril destroys three of the entrances, while Calen almost burns himself out attempting to do the same. He brings down two entrances, but Lorians flood through the third. As Vaeril helps Calen back to the Wind Runner, Valerys soared through the courtyard and poured fire over the Lorians.
When they get to the Wind Runner, they find that the Falmin Tain is the navigator. In the scramble to board, Tarmon takes an arrow through his lower abdomen. Calen and the others drag him aboard and Falmin pilots the Wind Runner into the tunnel. While Vaeril heals Tarmon, Calen discovers Falmin has also been struck by an arrow. Weak from battle, Calen assumes control of the Wind Runner. The Wind Runner crashes in the depths of the mountain.
Meanwhile, Ella, Faenir, Shirea, and Farda sail for Antiquar. Ella tells Farda her name is Ella Fjorn, and Farda draws connections to Rhett’s uncle Tanner Fjorn, who is revealed to be the High Captain of the Beronan Guard. Ella spends time with Shirea, who is suffering badly from seasickness, but also with the loss of her partner – John.
Hours later, Farda strolls the deck of the ship at night and finds Shirea. He has already decided he needs to ‘deal’ with her. A flip of his coin makes up his mind, and he snaps Shirea’s neck and dumps her into the ocean.
In the tunnels below Lodhar, Calen and the others awake after the crash to find the Wind Runner is destroyed and many Kingsguard and dwarves are dead. Tarmon, Vaeril, Erik, Valerys, and Falmin have all survived along with sixty-two other dwarves and humans. Vaeril heals Falmin’s wounds and they set about planning how they are going to find a way through the tunnels and back to Durakdur. It is here that Calen notices the others are looking to him to make the decisions as he is now ‘the Draleid’.
As they walk through the tunnels, Vaeril tells Calen the reason the elves of Aravell – the Darkwood – have disavowed Therin is because he refused to choose sides during ‘the Breaking’ where the elves of Lynalion abandoned the rest of the continent. Therin refused to pick a side as his duty was to all elves, but the elves of Aravell saw this as cowardice. After some time searching, Calen and the others discover the ruins of a lost dwarven city known as Vindakur.
In the rubble of Belduar, Inquisitor Rendall finds a one-handed elf amongst the ruins and orders the elf brought to his tent for interrogation. Above the city, Eltoar Daethana and Helios land beside the Dragonguard command tent where they meet Eltoar’s two companions, Lyina and Pellenor, along with the dragon to which Lyina is bound, Karakes. They talk of the other Dragonguard. Jormun, Ilkya, and Voranur all remain in Epheria. Erdin and Luka left the continent years ago, and Tivar hasn’t left Dracaldryr in nearly a century. Eltoar sets Pellenor to watch Rendall.
In Durakdur, Daymon vehemently urges the Dwarven rulers to help him retake Belduar, but they deny him. Too many have already died, and they collapsed the Wind Tunnels after the retreat. Instead, they offer the Belduarans refuge. Daymon is furious. Aeson informs the rulers of his plan to search the tunnels for any signs of Erik, Calen, and the others. Asius goes in search of clan Fenryr of the Angan – a race of shapeshifters – to aid in finding Calen and the others. Therin tells Asius that if he has trouble with clan Fenryr that he is to tell them ‘the son of the Chainbreaker is lost, and he needs them.’
Later that night, Ihvon foils an attempt on Daymon’s life after Dahlen alerts them to a shady man he’d seen in the courtyard. The assassin reveals he was sent by the dwarven queen Elenya. The next day, as Dahlen is waiting for Aeson so they can start the search, Alea and Lyrei – two elves who swore to protect Calen, tell Dann that Vaeril and Gaeleron never made it to Belduar either. Aeson arrives with fifty dwarves in tow, along with a dwarven guide named Nimara. Aeson tells Dahlen that he cannot join, as, in light of the attempt on Daymon’s life, Aeson needs him to watch over the young king.
In the palace of Al’Nasla, Rist, and three sponsored apprentices of the Circle of Magii – Neera, Lena, and Tommin – are being instructed in histories by High Scholar Pirnil. Rist is punished by Pirnil for losing his focus. After his lessons, Rist goes to meet his sponsor, Brother Garramon. Garramon gives Rist a letter from his parents but tells Rist he hasn’t received a response from the letters sent to Calen and Dann in Belduar. Garramon reveals Belduar has been defeated, and that a newfound rebel Draleid is causing havoc. Rist is careful with his questions, aware that he is no longer in The Glade. Garramon grants Rist his brown apprentice robes, which are adorned with a black stripe – the colour of the Battlemages.
In the Temple of Achyron, Brother-Captain Kallinvar watches the knights of his chapter practice in the sparring pits. Brother Lyrin, who had been sent to Camylin to build connections, returns in time to spar with Kallinvar. After the sparring, Grandmaster Verathin visits Kallinvar and informs him that the first dragon has hatched since The Fall. They agree that if the Draleid and the dragon hatchling aren’t loyal to the empire, they need to be protected.
Lyrin and another knight, Brother Arden – who was only granted the Sigil of Achyron two years ago – visit the Tranquil Gardento recuperate in the Waters of Life after the sparring. While there, Verathin along with Watcher Gildrick inform the pair that they are needed to combat a convergence of the Taint.
Arden and Lyrin travel through the Rift to a town called Helden. Here they battle against a horde of Uraks that are attacking the town. Arden faces a Bloodmarked Urak, which comes very close to killing him before he is saved by Lyrin.
In the north, Ella’s ship approaches Antiquar, and Farda tells her that a deckhand saw Shirea throw herself overboard the night before.
Below the mountains of Lodhar, Calen and his group of survivors move through the ruins of Vindakur in search of a Wind Tunnel that might lead them back to Durakdur. Amidst signs of a past battle, Calen sees a building with the symbol of the order engraved above the door. Valerys senses something inside the building and swoops through the broken roof to find a chest of shattered dragon eggs. In the same room as the shattered eggs, Calen finds a pendant and a letter written by Alvira Serris. After Calen finishes reading the letter, he and the other survivors are set upon by a swarm of kerathlin – spider-like creatures with chitinous bodies – that had turned the city into their nest. The kerathlin tear through the survivors, killing humans and dwarves alike. The group run towards an island of rock in the centre of the city, connected to the streets by several bridges. They make it to the island and Calen collapses one of the bridges, buying them time. They take a tunnel into a chamber at the centre of the island where they find a Portal Heart. As Falmin tries to activate the portal, the others ready themselves to face the kerathlin that are swarming down the tunnels into the chamber. Falmin uses Korik’s hand to active the portal and they escape, but many of the surviving dwarves and soldiers are killed.
On the other side of the portal, the group wander through tunnels in search of a way out. The sound of kerathlin causes Valerys to panic, and he almost brings the tunnel down until Calen calms him. In the aftermath, Calen finds a way out of the tunnels. They emerge onto a snowy mountain to find they are now in Drifaien with an old friend, Alleron, who Calen met in the Two Barges. Alleron provides the group refuge and reveals he is the son of Drifaein’s High Lord, Lothal Helmund.
In Valtara, Dayne Ateres returns home after twelve years in exile. The Steward of House Ateres, Marlin Arkon, brings Dayne to see his brother, Baren, who is now head of House Ateres. Initially overjoyed, Baren grows furious when Dayne shows him a letter from Aeson Virandr. Later, Baren betrays Dayne to the empire, and Dayne only escapes with the help of his sister, Alina. Alina takes Dayne to the hidden fortress of Stormshold, built inside the island that once held the city of Stormwatch – where Dayne had once watched his parents die.
In Stormshold, Dayne sees Valtarans of all the Major Houses – Ateres, Deringal, Thebal, Herak, Vakira, and Koraklon – all working together in opposition to the empire. Alina tells Dayne that while he was gone Baren had her partner, Kal, killed, and also agreed to having her newborn son taken and inducted into the Lorian army – as the Lorians did what all Valtaran firstborns. Alina agrees with Aeson’s request to start a rebellion, but is still furious.
In Antiquar, Ella discovers that Shirea’s body was found with her neck snapped. She and Faenir agree to travel with Farda to Berona. Far north, in the Beronan dungeons, Inquisitor Rendall takes his new initiate, Fritz Netly, to aid in the interrogation of the one-handed elf they found in the rubble of Belduar, while Pellenor secretly watches them.
Tempers fray in the tunnels of Lodhar as Aeson, Dann, and the others reach a dead end in their search for Calen and Erik, and are forced to turn back.
In Durakdur, Dahlen spars with Ihvon while Daymon has a private meeting with Queen Pulroan. Later, Ihvon takes Dahlen to the refugee quarters of Durakdur, where the Belduaran refugees are being housed within the city. The people are hungry and living in squalor. Dahlen experiences a traumatic episode at the sight of all the injured, and he helps distribute the sparse food.
Resting in the town of Katta, Calen has a vivid, almost real, dream that he experiences in tandem with Valerys. Vaeril teaches Calen of the Spark and a sword movement called ‘fellensír’. Calen convinces the others they should travel with Alleron to Arisfall, where he can arrange a ship to take them back to Durakdur.
In Al’Nasla, Rist bonds with the other apprentices while reading as many books as he can find, and Neera tells him of the goings on in the South.
On their way to Berona, Ella, Faenir, and Farda find themselves in a town attacked by Uraks. Farda saves Ella’s life, and she and Faenir return the favour. Ella learns Farda is a mage and an Imperial Justicar.
Rist trains with Garramon in Al’Nasla and sees the scars the man has on his back from his own apprenticeship. After training, Rist takes a forbidden trip into the city with Neera. While there, Rist sees an Alamant. Rist and Neera sit on the docks, talking of their past, and eventually share a kiss.
Back in Durakdur, Ihvon and Dahlen debate who is behind the assassination attempt and Ihvon introduces Dahlen to Belina Louna, who is to help them investigate the attempt on Daymon’s life and unravel the web of plots taking hold of Durakdur.
After being left under watch in Stormshold by Alina, Dayne finds that the women he has always loved, Mera Vardas, is now a wyvern rider. That night Dayne climbs to the Rest of Mera’s wyvern, Audin, and there he learns Alina is gone to Skyfell to start the war against the empire and to kill Baren for what he has done.
Trekking through the snow in Drifaien, Calen and his group are attacked by wyrms. Valerys displays his incredible destructive powers by ripping the wyrms to pieces, but not before many are killed. One of the surviving dwarves, Lopir, loses an eye.
In the Temple of Achyron, the knights debate over their next steps. Arden suggests reaching out to find allies and is ridiculed by the captains as the knights, historically, do not become involved in the politics of the continent. Kallinvar explains the history of the knighthood to Arden and Lyrin. The knights rush to intervene when Uraks attack Calen’s home in The Glade. They manage to thwart the Urak attack, but not before the village is destroyed and many of its inhabitants killed, including Erdhardt Hammersmith’s wife, Aela. After the battle, Kallinvar comforts Arden, who seems particularly traumatised by the scenes.
Dann, Aeson, and Therin finally arrive back in Durakdur having failed to find Calen and Erik. While in Durakdur, Dahlen tells Aeson that he suspects deeper machinations within the dwarven city. When trying to arrange another expedition to search the tunnels for Calen, Aeson and the others are visited by Baldon, and Angan of Clan Fenryr, who reveals that Calen and Erik are alive and in Drifaien. Dahlen decides to stay behind to help Ihvon and Daymon.
Having finally arrived in Arisfall, Alleron arranges ships for Calen, who is waiting with the others near a small town. Alleron goes to Arisfall castle to speak with his mother, and on the way runs into Leif. After speaking to his mother, Alleron is cornered by his father, who threatens him.
When Alleron meets back up with the others to inform the ships have been secured, they are ambushed by an Imperial Battlemage by the name of Artim Valdock and Lothal Helmund, who throws Leif’s severed head into the snow. In the fighting that follows, Artim Valdock kills both Falmin and Lopir. To save Valerys’s life, and those of Erik, Tarmon, Vaeril, Korik, and the others, Calen surrenders.
Calen awakens in a cell in Arisfall, his wrists bound with rune-marked manacles that cut him off from the Spark and his connection to Valerys. Alone, and distraught from the loss of his friends, Calen is tortured by Artim Valdock.
While riding across the continent, Dann tries to apologise to Alea and Lyrei for losing his temper in the tunnel, and learns that his horses’s name in the Old Tongue is Drunir – Companion. While camping for the night, Therin tells Dann about his valúr – the elven tradition of learning to create before learning to destroy. As Therin tells the tale of what happened after The Fall, Lyrei becomes enraged and tells him he is no better than the Astyrlína – the Faithless; those elves who turned their back on the continent and withdrew into Lynalion. Aeson, furious at her disrespect towards Therin, tells her that her honour is forfeit. After the argument, Baldon tells them that Calen has been captured.
Meanwhile, Ella finally arrives at Berona, the city where she and Rhett had planned to start their new life. Ella and Farda argue, and he brings her to meet Tanner Fjorn, Rhett’s uncle – who she has pretended is her own uncle. Tanner plays along with the ruse. When Farda leaves, Tanner comforts Ella and asks how his nephew died. Later, it is revealed that Tanner is aligned with Aeson’s rebellion.
Farda meets with Grand Consul Karsen Craine, who tells him he is too close to Ella and is to join the Fourth Army to relieve Fort Harken of Urak attacks. Karsen plans to capture Ella that night.
When Karsen’s men come for her, Ella and Faenir kill them and are bundled from the city by Tanner, a woman called Yana, and a Rakina elf named Farwen.
In Arisfall, Alleron is approached by his old friend Baird along with a Fenryr Angan, Aneera, both of whom are allied with Aeson. Alleron and the others break Calen out of his cell, along with Erik, Vaeril, and Tarmon, but Korik was killed during torture. Asius, the Jotnar also aids during the escape. While fleeing, Calen’s manacles are removed and his eyes glow purple. He bonds deeply with Valerys and the dragon lays waste to their pursuers, then flies Calen to safety.
Meanwhile, in Valtara, Dayne and Mera sneak back into Redstone. Dayne stops Alina from killing Baren, then lets his brother go free, telling him to wait at the farm near Myrefall. Dayne then witnesses hundreds of wyverns freeing Skyfell from Lorian control, and Alina is revealed to be a wyvern rider.
As the wyverns fly over Valtara, Calen reveals his plans to find Rist. If he goes back to Durakdur, Aeson will stop him from going after his friend. Calen and the others sail north with Captain Kiron on The Enchantress. Valerys flies alongside the ship.
While Calen sails, Ella travels with Farwen and Yana, discovering that she may in fact have the blood of the old druids in her veins.
Within the walls of Al’Nasla, Rist studies and practices the Spark using A Study of Control, by Andelar Touran. He also learns about the different divisions of druid – Aldruid, Skydruid, Seerdruid – from Druids, a Magic Lost. Garramon brings Rist for his Trial of Will. In the trial, Rist enters the Well of Arnen, where, in a dream-like state, he sees a faceless man who kills Neera, his mother, and many others, along with destroying Al’Nasla and The Glade. The faceless man, who now has a massive, white-scaled dragon by his side, is revealed to be Calen. In the trial, Rist chooses to kill both himself and Calen to prevent Calen from destroying everything. He awakens from the trial and is granted the brown-trimmed black robes of a Battlemage acolyte for passing the trial. Rist is unsure whether the trial was simply a trial or something more. Was it a glimpse of the future?
Still searching for Calen, Dann and Aeson visit one of Aeson’s contacts in Argona, a man named Arem. They learn the state of the continent and that Calen has escaped the cell in Drifaien.
Ella arrives in Tarhelm – a hidden rebel outpost in the Firnen mountains – and meets one of the rebel leaders: Coren Valmar. Tanner is brought in badly wounded and clinging to life.
Calen, Captain Kiron, and the others debate what route to take north and eventually settle on landing at Kingspass and crossing The Burnt lands instead of sailing the Lightning Coast.
Back in Durakdur, Dahlen and Belina meet with a dwarf who knows something about an assassination attempt on Daymon. But before the dwarf can reveal too much, he is poisoned. Dahlen kills the assassin, then goes in her place to meet with her superior. Belina saves Dahlen from death and learns there are assassins moving for every ruler of the Freehold, and Daymon. They both rush to stop the attempt on Daymon’s life to find Ihvon bleeding out on the floor and all the assassins either dead or incapacitated.
Calen and his group arrive in Kingspass and find a room. They awake at night to an Urak attack on the city. Calen, Valerys, and the others fight alongside the Lorian defenders. Bloodmarked, Fades, and even a Shaman crash down on the city’s defences, tens of thousands of Uraks flooding into the city. Calen and the defenders make their last stand. At the last moment, Kallinvar, Verathin and the other Knights of Achyron rush through the rift, which appears above the city, and drop from the sky. The knights help the defenders push back the Uraks. Grandmaster Verathin is killed by the Urak Shaman, which is, in turn, killed by Kallinvar.
As Kallinvar holds Verathin’s body in his arms, Calen discovers Arden is, in fact, his brother, Haem.