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In the frozen north of a far-flung world lies Villiren, a city plagued by violent gangs and monstrous human/animal hybrids, stalked by a serial killer, and targeted by an otherworldly army. Brynd Lathraea has brought his elite Night Guard to help Villiren build a fighting force against the invaders. But success will mean dealing with the half-vampyre leader of the savage Bloods gang. Meanwhile, reptilian rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd has come seeking refuge from Villjamurs vindictive emperoronly to find a city riddled with intolerance between species, indifference to a murderers reign of terror, and the powerful influence of criminals. As the enemy prepares to strike, and Villirens defenders turn on each other, three refugeesdeposed empress Jamur Rika, her sister Eir, and the scholar Randur Estevuapproach the city. And with them they bring a last, desperate hope for survival . . . and a shocking revelation that will change everything.