House Jhereg, Dragaera's organized crime syndicate, is still hunting Vlad Taltos. There's a big price on his head on Draegara City. Then he hears disturbing news. Aliera-longtime friend, sometime ally-has been arrested by the Empire on a charge of practicing elder sorcery, a capital crime.It doesn't make sense. Everybody knows Aliera's been dabbling in elder sorcery for ages. Why is the Empire down on her now? Why aren't her powerful friends-Morrolan, Sethra, the Empress Zerika-coming to her rescue? And most to the point, why has she utterly refused to do anything about her own defense?It would be idiotic of Vlad to jump into this situation. He's a former Jhereg who betrayed the House. He's an Easterner-small, weak, short-lived. He's being searched for by the most remorseless killers in the world. Naturally, that's exactly why he's going to get completely involved...