THE PRESENT IS BAD
The Empire that rules the north of Hafardine's single great continent is brutal and corrupt. Its armies have turned its neighbors into subjects, its economy rests on the backs of slaves, and its aristocrats plunder the provinces in the pretense of governing them.
West of the Empire are islands whose every resident is a pirate or a slave. Across the isthmus to the south are barbaric tribes living in squalor and mutual warfare, united only in their hatred of cities and the folk who live in them.
THE FUTURE WILL BE MUCH WORSE
If the Empire falls, it will take with it the last glimmer of civilization on Hafardine in the thousand years since the collapse of interstellar communication – and the Empire will fall under the weight of its own greed and vices unless the two men on Hafardine who can read the signs manage to reshape the future.
FOR THE BEST HOPE MEANS CERTAIN CHAOS
In the south, the exiled philosopher Adrian Gellert attempts to forge the barbarians into a nation which can replace the Empire before it sinks into a pool of its own decay. In Adrian's mind whisper disembodied intelligences from the stars, bringing with them knowledge of new weapons and the whole sweep of human histroy. In the Empire itself, the aristocratic Justiciar Demansk wields political and military force with the delicacy of a juggler and the ruthlessness of a street thug.
AND EVEN THAT HOPE IS A SLIM ONE!
If either man succeeds, it will be through the other's ruin; and if they both fail, it will mean Hafardine sinks forever into the Long Night.