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Young Carnelian has spent his entire life alone with his father, who years ago rejected the savage cruelty of the Masters of Osrakum and was sent into exile. But now a ship has come flying through the winter gales to shatter his quiet world. Three Masters disembark, and as they remove their masks of gold, Carnelian is awed by the light that seems to radiate from their skin. In formal conclave they beg Carnelian’s father to return with them to Osrakum to oversee the election of a new God Emperor.
And so Carnelian begins to fulfill his destiny. Along his perilous journey to the Osrakum, he is forced to learn bitter lessons in bloodshed, power, intrigue, love, and treachery—and sets in motion the concluding events in a story four thousand years old.