The various city-states in the Isthmus have never known wholesale war but that is about to end. The ruler of Felk, Lord Motokin has planned for years to conquer the city- states and become Emperor of the Isthmus. He amassed a large army and trained in his own college a group of powerful wizards who would give that army instant transportation and communications. He places them under the command of a two hundred and fifty year old general remembered in the history books as Dardas the Butcher.
The city states of Windal, Callah and Sook fall immediately and the entire population of U'delph are killed, the city leveled to the ground. Although Dardas knows he needs periodic rejuvenation spells from a wizard under Motokin's command, the general is plotting to turn the magician's loyalty towards him. However, there are plans in the works from an assortment of people to stop this madness. One man is raising up a resistance in Callah while the leader of the powerful city-state Petgrad is trying to unite the city states so there's a chance they can win against the horde that is coming for them.
This story is told from the perspective of many individuals including a mercenary, a scholar, a collaborator, a resistance fighter and Dardas. Once the reader adjusts to the changing points of view, the transitions between these various viewpoints are smooth and makes for a fascinating reading experience. With the exception of the collaborator and the general who are deliberately made despicable, the audience will like the other characters and feel close to them. That Robert Asprin and Eric Del Carlo can accomplish such a feat is a testament to their tremendous talent.