England in the sixteenth century: a nation at a fatal fork in time, leading to two possible futures forseen by the Sidhe of Elfhame Avalon. Either an evil queen will join forces with the Inquisition and rule with a blood-spattered iron hand, threatening humans and elves alike¿or a benevolent, red-haired queen named Elizabeth will rule wisely and well. But the evil Unseleighe Sidhe, who feed on human suffering and dark emotions, are determined that the little girl Elizabeth shall never grow up to take the throne. Opposing them are the good Sidhe of elfland, who have so far managed to protect the young girl. Denoriel had foiled one attempt to kidnap both Elizabeth and her half-brother and replace them with changelings, almost at the cost of his own life. But a few years have passed, and Denoriel has healed and returned to guard the young princess, now all of eight years old, secure in the knowledge that his enemy Vidal, leader of the evil Unseleighe, is dead, killed with an iron bolt fired from a primitive gun. Unfortunately, he is wrong: Vidal¿s armor was far stronger than any of the good elves realized. Though the wound was deep and Vidal was forced to bide his time in his own slow healing, his recovery is complete, his determination to hurl England into a new dark age is as strong as ever, and he has set in motion a plan to achieve this end of which Denoriel and his comrades are dangerously unaware. . . .
Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots. She can be found at mercedeslackey.com. From the Trade Paperback edition.