by James Berardinelli

According to legend, there was once a time when wizards walked the lands of Ayberia. With powers so mighty that even kings bowed to them, they existed outside the common laws of men. But a thousand years ago, the gods, angry at their creations for giving adulation and worship to wizards, withdrew magic from the world. The wonders of a lost age faded from memory with history giving birth to myths and children's stories...

For one common stableboy, Sorial of Vantok, wizards are no more a real concern than the other long-gone creatures of legend: elves, wyrms, dragons, and trolls. There is only the immediacy of keeping the straw clean and the animals fed to avoid the wrath of his master, the innkeeper Warburm. But Sorial's mysterious past is about to impinge on his present. The secrets surrounding his birth are set to collide with a heretical theology decreeing that the gods are no more. With assassins lurking in the shadowy recesses of the stable, a relentless heat wave turning Winter to Summer, and a duke's daughter showing more interest in him than is proper, Sorial discovers that the "safe" world of his childhood is under assault. His destiny will not allow him to merely observe the disintegration of the social order; he must uncover his past so he can act to safeguard the future.