This is the beginning of an epic saga of books featuring the savage and brutal realism of Dark Ages conflict with domineering rulers and stardust legends. A veneficus is a Dark Ages hybrid of sorcerer, magician, hermit, alchemist, oracle, wizard and wax-pale ghost. Savage death stalks the venefical gift, those who oppose it and those who support it. The fate of Wessex lies in the enchanted hands of Merlin, the current manifestation of the 10,000 - year - old Avebury Stones dynasty of Wessex venefici. But time races against him. He has only seven years left to live; seven short years in which he must train his successor in the enchantments. Twilight, formerly the village boy Will Timms, has the aura of the one chosen to be taught by the mighty Merlin and eventually take his place. Meanwhile, Wessex has fallen into peril, consumed by conflict and death as the Northern King, Penda, and his wolf woman veneficus, Elelendise, invade the land in search of conquest and power. Elelendise also covets Merlin's title and will stop at nothing to obtain it. Penda and Elelendise are not the only threats. Forces even darker still are gathering as the God of the Cowering Dead strives for domination in an immortal struggle entwined with the fate of Wessex.