The danger is increasing for Grianne Ohmsford, rightful High Druid of Shannara, who has been banished to the harsh world called the Forbidding by a treasonous fellow Druid. Her only hope for rescue is her nephew Pen, but Pen is under siege as well. Both he and his parents are sought by the Druids, who want to make sure that their magic will never help Grianne to return.
Loyal to none but herself and lethal even to those closest to her, Shadea a'Ru now holds sway as High Druid of Paranor, her acension to power all but unchallenged in the wake of Grianne Ohmsford's sudden, mysterious vanishing. Only Shadea and her catspaw, the treacherous Prime Minister Sen Dunsidan, know the secret fate of the true Ard Rhys. And now Grianne languishes in the fearsome and inescapable netherworld called the Forbidding.