When the Skandian Oberjal is taken hostage during a raid on the desert Arrida, his second-in-command Svengal, asks the Araluans for help. Halt and Will must go with him to deliver the ransom and secure Erak's freedom, but a royal presence is needed.
The Princess Cassandra - or Evanlyn, as Will knows her - persuades her father to let her go with them. Horace and the Ranger Gilan round out the group to make sure that Evanyln is well protected. But will violent sandstorms, warring tribes and danger at every turn keep them from reaching Erak in time?
This seventh book takes us back to the final year of Will's apprenticeship, before the events related in Books 5 and 6