In this third volume of the Valerian Chronicles, Valerius’ plans to strike at Fantar are forestalled when he is besieged in the city of Zagorbia. Meanwhile, his half-brother, Thorngere travels north to gather troops in his homeland and discovers the secret of his birth, while Princess Vahla, who like Thorngere is still pained by the revelation that their love is incestuous, travels east with her ubiquitous servant Chad. Some of the tricks taught her by the Mage Volkmir stand her in good stead there as she dupes the Oracle at Cartho and enchants the Viceroy Asperides, but not when she is captured by invading Scythians. After finally throwing off the siege, Valerius moves east with a growing host, and aided by the brilliant but tiny King Koltar, confronts the God, Balam, and the Scythians, and also faces the greatest threat to his entire quest—his own pride.
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