Derakwa is a special place, a scattering of islands in the middle of the ocean. It is also the only place in the world that produces Black Dust, the substance from which all magic flows. That has made Derakwa rich. It has also made it a tempting target for any number of powers.
Kel is an penniless orphan. He’s clever, ambitious and he knows he’s going to be rich one day. But Kel is a Terakan, and on the archipelago of Derakwa that means he’s an outsider.
He gets a job, makes friends, and by chance he wins a favour from a witch. He sees an opportunity to make a lot of money, but there are things that Kel doesn’t know – important things.
Derakwa is ruled by The Judge, an ancient and wise woman, but the real power lies in the great trading houses and she must keep the balance between them. Yet the Judge knows, and Kel will discover, that the greatest power in the islands lies beneath the sea.
Derakwa has been saved from invasion and, at least for the present, the islands are safe.
Jiang, the SungLi ambassador, has been summoned back to the empire to explain to the emperor in person why a powerful SungLi lord was killed. He has not been home for many years. He has never met the emperor, is estranged from his family, and has no friends there. He can count on the loyalty of none and the enmity of many.
Civil war breaks out, and Jiang must forge alliances if he wants to survive. The emperor sets him a task on which
the fate of the empire may depend. But Jiang has a talent for making friends and that may be enough to save him, or lead him to a fatal mistake.
In a distant corner of the Thirteen Kingdoms a man dies of a fever and in the seas around Derakwa, dissatisfied gills rebel against the Fish King’s rule. South of the SungLi Empire a new threat arises from the desert and in the port city of Calico a lord of the underworld seeks to profit from it all.
Plague, war and crime threaten all who live around the Great Sea and fate once more draws its threads together in Derakwa. A peasant’s widow becomes a healer, an outcast finds a purpose and the daughters of night find a family.
The Dragon Prince and the Fish King must use all their power and cunning, all their alliances and influence but in Derakwa, they are playing the Judge’s game, and she will have the last word.