The war between the Golden Empire and the Empire of the Sun is over; the empires merged into one, and there is one emperor over them all: Estarion, heir to both royal houses. But Estarion will not accept half of his heritage, nor will the Golden Empire willingly accept him. The same forces that assassinated his father are arrayed against him, led by the last scion of an ancient imperial line--and he must stand against them and truly unite the empires or see all the great work of his ancestors reduced to rubble.
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The emperor Estarion's long reign has finally brought peace and even reconciliation to the two warring halves of his empire. But no sun lord can rest content in his triumph. Now Estarion and Vanyi, his master of mages, have the leisure to explore the rest of their wide world. Vanyi's Mage Guild has created a series of gates that can take a traveler halfway around their planet in only a few steps.
A wild, spoiled princeling of the house of Han-Gilen, Indaros Karelios is handsome, arrogant, a seducer and tavern-crawler with little regard for the noble line that spawned him. But Daros is also a mage, unruly, untrained, and unbound by the constraints that block other workers of magic. Caught violating the mages' gravest prohibition, crossing through the forbidden gates between the worlds, Daros is brought to judgment before the Lady Merian, ruler of the Golden Empire, Mistress of the Gates, and heir of Avaryan.