In an age of gleaming bronze and waning magic, Andel, a depressed former mystical prodigy, journeys to a settlement on the edge of the “civilized” world to retrieve an adolescent recruit for his employing order, the Tower of Mages. At his destination, the town of Southcross Keep, he crosses paths with Ilona, a youth far too clever for her station as an apprentice smith under her father; she has learned to read in secret, and possesses an insatiable curiosity burning underneath her timid exterior. Seeing in her greater promise and enthusiasm than the child he was sent to retrieve, Andel hatches a plot to spite the masters of his order: returning to the Tower with Ilona, and alleging her to be the child he sought.
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