Still grieving the death of her son, the Holy Matriarch of Mann has ordered her troops to embark on a mission to the Mercian Free Ports. Riding at the head of her army she plans to finally conquer the city of Bar-Khos, whose walls have kept them at bay for ten long years. Ash has other plans for her. The old R?shun warrior is determined that he will have vengeance for the crimes she has committed. But such a course of retribution is in direct opposition to everything he has lived for - this isn't a R?shun vendetta - it's personal. While Ash battles with his conscience, Che, the Matriarch's personal Diplomat and assassin, is questioning his own path. Watching as the Mannian army slaughters their way across the world, he wonders whether he believes any of the doctrine he has been taught to follow. As the battle for Bar-Khos intensifies, more and more lives are affected: Bahn who leaves all he loves in the city to try to protect it from the ravening Mannian empire, Bull the murderer who senses a chance to make things right, and Curl, the young prostitute who is determined to seek her own retribution on the field of battle. When the two armies clash - all looks set to be decided. But it's not sheer force that will win this battle. But the tormented determination of one man seeking redemption . . .