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Without Lazar's guiding hand and presence, the Stone Palace of Percheron has become a different place. Young Zar Boaz, mistrusting of his mother, Herezah, but too inexperienced to stand on his own, seeks counsel from the suddenly changed and secretive Vizier, who has a sinister agenda of his own.
As Herezah privately grieves for Lazar, she hatches an audacious plot to destroy the odalisque Ana, who flouts the rules of the harem but has found a measure of protection in having caught the eye of Zar Boaz. And Ana shoulders a tremendous burden of guilt as she matures from a beautiful girl into a stunning young woman . . . and fears what her future in the harem might hold.
Yet Lazar, unbeknownst to nearly everyone in the palace, is slowly recovering on a secret island. As he struggles to return to health, war from a distant realm threatens Percheron, and, as the cyclical battle of the gods continues to build, the first of the Goddess's disciples falls into the grip of the demon Maliz. Success or failure—for both Percheron and Lyana—hinges on Lazar, whose illness has left him with a new gift he fears is a curse, and if he cannot take action soon, all may well be lost.
Born in 1960 and raised in southern England, Fiona McIntosh spent an early childhood in the gold-mining camp of Bibiani in Ghana, where her father was working. She studied in Brighton before starting a career in PR and marketing in London. She made Australia her home in 1980, continuing in a travel-marketing career with an ad agency, a tourism authority, and an international airline. Fiona married her magazine-publisher husband, Ian, and they now live in Adelaide with their teenage twin sons, Will and Jack.