Arkan leaves the meeting early to go talk with his auntie Liallan instead. After Arkan tells Liallan of his dream involving his defense of a black-robed human magician, Liallan instructs Arkan to go south to the human lands like his father Gorath once did to seek out the magician.
Meanwhile, the demons Child and Belog are adjusting to their new surroundings in Midkemia and their new forms as Miranda and Nakor. They meet up with Martin conDoin, Brendon conDoin, and Lady Bethany of Carse as they defend Ylith against Keshian invaders. After stopping a magical assault by the Keshian force, Miranda and Nakor capture and interrogate the Keshian-born magician Akesh.
Meanwhile Hal and Tyrone Hawkins are busy helping Lady Franciezka of Roldem smuggle Princess Stephané and her personal bodyguard Lady Gabriella out of Roldem. They sail on a small boat, evading Ceresian pirates as they make their way towards the Kingdom city of Ran.
Also, Pug, Sandreena, and Amirantha investigated the Isle of the Snake Men or Pantathia, the home of an intelligent breed of Pantathians. They learn that demons are attacking the Pantathians. After this discovery, Pug meets with the magicians at Stardock to discuss their options. At this meeting and after hearing Pug's news, the magician Ruffio puts forward a motion to prepare the magicians for the defense of Midkemia.
Jim Dasher learns that his grandfather Duke James of Rillanon is very sick and hastens to meet him at Rillanon. He discovers that Sir William Alcorn is usurping his grandfather's role as a palace adminstrator.
Jim goes to meet a butcher who is a head of a crime syndicate in Rillanon and learns that similar usurpations of power are occurring in Kesh and Roldem. In exchange for this information, he is forced to install the butcher's son as the Upright Man in Krondor. Jim's network of spies on the continent of Triagia has been heavily comprised and he is considering retirement. Jim then meets up with Karrick, one of his trainees who could also be his son, and instructs him to backstab the butcher when the opportunity arises.
Magnus and Pug investigate a magical construct on the Isle of the Snake Men. Some kind of barrier is surrounding the Sven-ga'ri and the two magicians are determined to unlock or remove the barrier.
Meanwhile on Roldem, Lady Franciezka discovers that Lord John Worthington is meeting up with his identical triplets Sir William Alcorn of the Kingdom of the Isles and Prince Harfum of the Empire of Great Kesh. Franciezka overhears their conversation and believes that they are attempting to assassinate King Gregory so she determines that her next step is to find Jim Dasher.
Martin defends the city of Ylith against another assault by Keshian invaders with the help of Arkan and Calis. The Keshians manage to breach the gate and overrun half the city but then the signal for truce is sounded and the Keshian commander explains to Martin that his orders are to stop advancing but hold all territory gained. So the city of Ylith is divided in half with the Kingdom holding one half and the Keshians the other half.
Franciezka is invited to a celebration by Lord John Worthington and learns the he has also invited King Gregory and Emperor Sezioti of Great Kesh to Roldem to negotiate a peace treaty.
Ty, Hal, Stephané, and Gabriella finally make their way into the city of Ran after killing several pirates. They are welcomed by Duke Chadwick of Ran who agrees to travel with them to Rillanon to attend the peace treaty negotiations.
The demons under the guise of Miranda and Nakor travel on horseback to Sarth then use a boat to sail to Sorcerer's Isle. Amirantha and Sandreena discover that the two are demons and almost banish them before the demons convince them to halt their attacks. Miranda and Nakor regain their human magical abilities at this time and teleport to Pug and Magnus at the Isle of the Snake Men.
Hal learns from King Gregory that his father has died and then formally makes him the new Duke of Crydee before all the nobles gathered at Rillanon. Duke Chadwick of Ran observes that Hal is referred to as a "beloved cousin" and that Hal now has an equal claim to the throne along with Prince Oliver, Earl Montgomery, and Duke Chadwick himself. The King and his nobles travel together to Roldem to attend the peace treaty negotiations. Hal also attends the peace treaty negotiations but there he also meets Queen Gertrude, Stephané's mother, who has a chat with him about his relationship with Stephané.
As Hal learns from the Queen that Stephané is currently out of his reach for marriage, the three triplets of Sir William Alcorn, Lord John Worthington, and Prince Harfum unveil their plot to attack the three monarchs King Gregory, King Carol, and Emperor Sezioti gathered at the peace negotiation. The three triplets became three death-dancers that kill several party guests and guards at the peace negotiation. Hal, Lady Franciezka, and the personal bodyguards of the three monarchs manage to hold off the death-dancers from killing everyone until Ruffio arrives and banishes the death-dancers with magic.
The concluding chapters set up the beginning of the next novel Magician's End.
King Gregory has a stroke during the attack of the death-dancers and then dies. Prince Oliver hastily assembles an army and sails them all to Rillanon and Duke Chadwick of Ran does the same thing. Meanwhile, Martin and Brendan are recalled from Ylith and travel to Krondor to meet with Prince Edward.
Pug and Magnus meet with Miranda and Nakor and together they unlock the barrier around the Sven-ga'ri. However, they discover that it is a magical trap to destroys the entire island and population of the Isle of the Snake Men.
The Taredhel Tanderae, Loremaster of the Clan of the Seven Stars, discovers that the Lord Regent of the Taredhel has unleashed a magical ruby beacon at the city of E'Bar. Previously, the Lord Regent had been observed communicating with and bowing down to a Dread King.
A mysterious Rider also travels down the Celestial Highway in order to instruct the heavenly host to leave Miranda and Nakor alive and to bring word to Pug. However the Rider is seemingly destroyed by the Dread.
Tomas feels the presence of another Valheru, Draken-Korin, awakening and furthermore, dragons around the world of Midkemia start dropping their human disguises and become dragons once again. The greatest dragon, the Oracle of Aal at Sethanon also has trouble seeing into the future.