|image from LibraryThing|
Oriel and Griff know nothing of the world outside of their island - they don't know about the people or the Kingdom. They only know pain and loss and suffering. They are captured by Wolfers - a primitive tribe of warriors who kill for treasure to please their king. They experience the horrors of a new kind of slavery.
And then they are freed by an avalanche and stumble through a pass into an amazing world of the Kingdom. They are saved by a young girl - Beryl, the puppeteer's granddaughter (the original Oriel) who teaches them the ways of the people. But there is a contest - a fight to the death for those who want to become an Earl - and that is Oriel.
After all the pain and anguish of this path - they aren't finished yet.
This was my least favorite of the 4 books. The characters were clearly drawn and I was invested in each of them...but I just didn't like the story path. It was so full of pain and so full of the dark side of the Kingdom, all the things that the romantic in my doesn't really want to focus on.
So - I was happy this wasn't the last of the series.