In Caithe, magic is considered to be a gift from the devil, that should be rejected - by giving away your life when the first signs of 'magic madness' appear. However, the same magic gift is considered a blessing, when used by Caithe's king. But the situation is problematic, when Athaya, the king's daughter starts showing the signs of the magic. She runs to a nearby kingdom that embraces magic, but will that be enough to protect her?
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Safely ensconced with a master magician who is teaching her wizardry, Princess Athaya realizes she must return to Caithe, from which she has recently escaped, to teach its citizens how to control the evil magic that is controlling them.
While the Tribunal scours the land, determined to exterminate all wizards in Caithe, Athaya's camp swells with refugees, and the only person who can keep them from starving is the sage of far-off Sare.
Magic had at last returned to Caithe - though hardly in the form that the princess Athaya Trelane had imagined. The Sage, the wizard leader of the ice-bound island of Sare, was poised on Caithe's shores. No longer would wizards be persecuted by Church and State. No longer would the Tribunal dare root out and exterminate them. And those Caithans who were struck with the madness of untrained magic would no longer need to flock to Athaya's secret schools to learn control. The promises he made to Caithe's wizards were grand....