With her previous novel The Death of the Necromancer
, Wells established herself as a skilled fantasy world-builder with the ability to blend mystery and intrigue with plenty of buckle and swash. Here she departs from more familiar pseudohistorical European settings for the Celestial Empire, a land where life moves in eternal circles and the wishes of departed ancestors can have as much influence as the living on day-to-day life. Itinerant ex-priestess Maskelle was once the Voice of the Adversary, vessel to a spirit created by the Ancestors and given the task of punishing injustice and evil. When a false message from an interfering evil spirit led her to commit murder, Maskelle left the faith, only to return now, years later, answering the summons of the Celestial One. Someone--or something--has corrupted the great Wheel of the Infinite, distorting the sacred patterns which must be faithfully recreated at the end of each year to ensure the continual existence of the world. The only way to repair the pattern is to find the being responsible for disturbing it, and so the Adversary's Voice is needed once again, despite the past. Assisted by the swordsman Rian, a lordless bodyguard from distant Sitane, Maskelle uncovers an intricate plot whose roots were set into motion long ago--a plot responsible for the murder which forced her to leave the faith. Engaging characters and a convincing setting make this novel of ancient schemes and twisted magic an excellent and memorable read. --Charlene Brusso
With chaos in the wind, a woman with a shadowy past has returned to Duvalpore. A murderer and traitor--an exile disgraced, hated, and feared, and haunted by her own guilty conscience--Maskelle has been summoned back to help put the world right. Once she was the most enigmatic of the Voices, until cursed by her own actions. Now, in the company of Rian--a skilled and dangerously alluring swordsman--she must confront dread enemies old and new, and a cold, stalking malevolence unlike any she has ever encountered.
For if Maskelle cannot unearth the cause of the Wheel's accelerating disintegration--if she cannot free herself from the ghosts of the past and focus on the catastrophe to come--the world will plunge headlong into the terrifying abyss toward which it is recklessly hurtling. And all that is, ever was, and will be will end.
Originally published by Avon Eos in 2000.