The Faceless Man is a prisoner in his own palace. His power over the people of Durdane is in the hands of Gastel Etzwane, a youth whose thirst for vengeance against the dreaded Rogushkoi would be slaked only by oceans of their blood. For these invincible foes who threatened Durdane had taken and killed his mother and sister. To destroy the Rogushkoi Gastel would have to unite a world that survived only through its separateness. It was more than dangerous, but he had no choice. If they were to fight the people must regain control of their own lives. Only then could Gastel recruit an elite corps of the liberated – the Brave Free Men – to fling against the Rogushkoi and fight to the death.
Gastel Etzwane had held total power in the Land of Shant: the brooding musician, turned man of action with his corps of Brave Free Men, rid the land of slavery and alien invaders in one masterful stroke-only to discover the greatest threat of all – alien parasites of inconceivable intelligence and unfathomable purpose. Their expulsion from Shat has been celebrated by all, but Etzwane is uneasy. For wild rumours come out of the hidden land of Caraz-and once again the musician must don the cloak of action, setting out on a dangerous quest for knowledge that will take him farther than he ever wanted to go: to the grim reaches of a hideously alien world, there to learn the secret of the Asutra!