Calder has been declared Imperial Steward, the official successor to the Emperor. He leads the Empire from the throne, just as he has always wanted. In their tombs, the Great Elders stir. The crack in the sky becomes more alarming by the day, so Calder and his loyal Imperialist Guilds seek a truce with their Independent opponents. Both sides know the Elders are the true enemy, but that does not make peace easy. Blood has been spilled already, trust is hard to come by, and the Guild Heads under Calder see him as little more than a figurehead. For civilization to survive, Calder must take the lead and prove himself to allies and enemies alike. But he is faced with an ancient Guild of spies and assassins led by the one woman who most wants him dead: Shera of the Gardeners. In the shadows, a woman plots to prolong a war. On the seas, a man works to end it.