Aisling of Bruadair has lived a provincial life, heedless of the evil creeping over her land. That ordinary existence changes forever, though, when she is sent to the opposite end of the world to find a master swordsman. If she fails, her life--and her country's safety--will be forfeit. She just never expected that swordsman to be a wounded elven prince masquerading as a simple soldier.
Powerless and scarred from a long-ago conflict, Rùnach of Ceangail has spent years in obscurity, ignoing battles he can no longer fight. And although he has been drawn back into the world, he fully intends to live an unremarkable life far away from events he knows he cannot change...
Until Rùnach meets Aisling and realizes that she is far more than what she seems, that their alliance has attracted unwelcome notice, and that some battles must be fought.
The king's magnificent palace was built in a matter of weeks. No one saw the builders, no villagers are allowed beyond the gilded gate, and only one servant has ever left. The haunted look in her eyes as she was recaptured by the palace guards is something Josie, daughter of the village doctor, has never forgotten.
For Josie, the palace is a mystery that grows more intriguing after she meets the captain of the guards, a man known only as Hammer, as mysterious and captivating as the palace itself. Whispers of magic fuel Josie's desire to uncover the truth, but an ordinary girl like her can only dream of ever being invited inside.
When the king decides to take a wife from among the eligible daughters of the noble families, the palace gates are finally thrown open and the kingdom's elite pour in. In a court where old rivalries and new jealousies collide, the king's favorite is poisoned and the doctor is summoned. As her father's assistant, Josie finally sees inside the lavish walls, but she soon learns the palace won't surrender its secrets easily, for not a single resident, from the lowest servant to the king himself, has a memory from before the palace existed.
In the search for the truth, Josie is drawn deeper into danger, and the answers she seeks might shake the very foundations of the kingdom.