I have read many stories of fantasy involving magic and revenge but this one left me crying at the end! Fans and readers you have been warned! There are many spoilers here too.
Martris "Tris" Drayke, second son of the royal family of Margolan, has always been tormented by his older half-brother, Jared Drayke. When Jared murders their father and seizes the throne with the help of his vampire (vayash moru) mage, Foor Arontala, Martris flees the city with his two friends: the bard Carroway and the soldier Soterius. Also, a gruff captain of the guard joins them.
As the friends journey on the road to a nearby country to the north, Tris begins to experience powers he didn't know he had, magic left to him by his extremely powerful grandmother, Bava K'aa. As the story progresses, Tris learns that he is the mage heir of Bava K'aa, inheriting all of her former powers of summoning spirits, and perhaps more.
As his brother's soldiers close in, Tris hires on the ex-soldier Vahanian, who now lives on the wrong side of the law. Vahanian is haunted by a horrific past, and has sworn not to involve himself in the conflicts of government again. However, through the course of the novel, Vahanian begins to see the urgency of mission's success, after witnessing the horrors King Jared and Arontala inflict upon their own country. He, reluctantly, at first, agrees to train Tris and his friends in the art of streetfighting, breaking them of their rehearsed, almost ceremonial ways of swashbuckling. He teaches them how to kill, not put on a show.
Princess Kiara, leader of the small country of Isencroft, for all intents and purposes, finds herself in a bind as she struggles to worm her way out of an arranged marriage with Jared, and worries about her father's failing health, which is almost certainly waning because of evil magic. In a last bid for her country's freedom, she rides upon a Journey given to her by the Eight-Faced Goddess. She ends up joining Tris's band, and rides with him to an almost-forgotten library to discover how she might save her father, and her nigh-doomed country.
While there, Kiara is attacked by Arantola, and Tris continues his training under Roysten the Librarian and other Sisters, eventually gaining MageSlayer, a powerful sword guarded by the dead. It is the only blade capable of killing the dead. During this time, Kiara and Tris begin to fall for each other, and Kiara is bidden by the Goddess to assist in their quest. Vahanian and Carina also show signs of romantic feelings, though Carina is desperate to deny them because of something in her past.
They then set off for Principality, but they are detained by King Staden of Principality's soldiers, and it is revealed the general of the troops is the brother of the man Carina fell in love with and failed to save when she and her brother were forced out their home for being twins, and mages to boot.
Once at the royal court though, the King reveals he escorted them for safety as they saved his daughter Berwyn (Berry), and Vahanian is made Lord of Dark Haven, the vayash moru stronghold as a reward. The king pledges his full support, and Kiara and Tris admit their feelings before Tris goes to continues his training.
This is the first book of a wonderful series that shows vampires, ghosts, spirits and necromancers in a new way never seen before. I strongly urge readers to find this book and add it to their collection!