For 3000 years, the Soleri sun-god cult has ruled the empire through myth and magic. The first-born male son from each of the four kingdoms must be given to the Soleri to live in tortured darkness until the reigning king dies and the son is released to assume sovereignty. This year is different. Without the annual eclipse the empire is thrown into chaos. The Mother Priestess of the Soleri escapes the riots only to discover a secret that will destroy the peace and all traditions. Only the children of the Hark Wadi ruling family have a chance to hold together the kingdoms. But Ren must escape from being ransomed and survive the final test to gain his birthright. Merit and Kepi, the two daughters of the Hark Wadi, are fighting each other as well as rival kingdoms in order to secure their own futures.
Michael Johnston successfully blends ancient Egyptian history, empire building, and myth to form the beginning of an exciting addition to the fantasy genre. Soleri has plot twists and turns that will fascinate readers to the very end. Recommended for readers who like Frank Herbert, Pauline Gedge, or Dan Simmons.