Isca is fallen; Antimone draws Her veil over the dead. Rictus, a young soldier of the city, is now ostrakr – homeless, devoid of purpose. He dons the red cloak of the mercenary and sets out to find a road for himself.
On the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a fierce, barbaric people whose discipline and prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend. If they did not war endlessly on themselves, they would conquer the world. Beyond their home in the remote Harukush Mountains, the teeming races and peoples of Kuf are united under the Great King of Asuria, who can call up whole nations to battle, and whose word is law.
But now the Great King’s brother means to take the throne by force, and has sought out the Macht. Rictus – and ten thousand more mercenary warriors – will march into the heart of the Empire. They will become legends.