It has been ten years since the magical Cataclysm which destroyed the twin strongholds of two of the world's most powerful Mages, killing Urtho, creator of the gryphons, and sending his forces into exile. Ten long and hard years for Skandranon Rashkae, the black gryphon, now bleached white by his stay in the nether region between two collapsing Gates - the Gates which had brought his people from the site of the most terrible mage-storm in history to a place of relative safety.
Now Urtho's peoples - human and non-human alike - live in a terraced city carved into the face of a gleaming white cliff on the edge of the Western Ocean. It had taken them one year of terrible travail crossing dangerous lands to find this sheltered haven, and nine hard years of building, but their city, called White Gryphon after their unofficial leader, is now a secure stronghold.
Secure, at least, until the fleet of the mysterious Black Kings appears in their harbor, bringing envoys who inform the residents of White Gryphon that their newfound home lies on the northern perimeter of lands claimed by this powerful kingdom.
Desperate not to lose their hard-won home, Skandranon, along with his longtime friend Amberdrake - Chief Kestra'chern and representative of the humans of White Gryphon - agree to accompany the envoys back to the Court of the Black Kings, hoping to negotiate an alliance. But once settled in this strange Court, where ritual and complex forms of etiquette rule all, Skandranon and Amberdrake soon become aware that this negotiation will not be an easy one.
And when a high-ranking noble who opposes this alliance is found murdered - seemingly torn apart y gryphon's talons - Skandranon and Amerdrake realize that they are up against unkown enemies who will stop at nothing, even the use of diabolical Blood Magic, to destroy White Gryphon.
Mercedes Ritchie Lackey (born 1950) is an American writer of fantasy novels. Many of her novels and trilogies are interlinked and set in the world of Velgarth, mostly in and around the country of Valdemar. Her Valdemar novels form a complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists with many different cultures and social mores.
Her other main world is one much like our own, but it includes clandestine populations of elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. The Bedlam's Bard books describe a young man with the power to work magic through music; the SERRAted Edge books are about racecar driving elves; and the Diana Tregarde thrillers center on a Wiccan who combats evil.
She has also