Thousands of years before the Age of Elminster, dragons rule the skies of Faerûn, and elves dominate the huge forests that cover the land. Only in the mighty, magical empire of Netheril are men a force to be reckoned with.
Bored and haughty in his midair castle, the Netherese mage Candlemas bets fellow wizard Sysquemalyn that a certain barbarian who has caught his eye can survive the most savage tests his friend – and deadly rival – can devise. The only rule: The tests must offer the subject some chance to survive, however slight.
Of course, "playing fair" is a concept as alien to the wizards of Netheril as "mercy."
But the subject of their wager, Sunbright Steelshanks of the Rengarth Tribe, has a mind – and a will – of his own. And Candlemas and Sysquemalyn are not the only players in this lethal game of swords and sorcery...