The Lady Hysena Macarydias, teenage daughter of the most noble house of Qalle, finds her illusion of how life will be as an Initiate at the formidable Citadel utterly shattered.
The excesses of Father Tarrip, High Priest of the Holy Prophet , would be beyond the endurance of the terrified girls in his charge were it not for the efforts of Sister Maria, who as an Adept of the secretive and forbidden Society of T’arn, is able to control him – but only to a degree.
But Maria has concerns beyond the fate of the pampered young ladies of Qalle aristocracy; the delicately balanced peace between the warring nations is under threat, and the very future of the planet may be in her hands.
The struggle for control of Qalle is a secret one, known to only a few. Caught between the opposing factions are the innocent Initiates: Hysena, the beautiful, intelligent yet naive Lady; Jagdig, the formidable warrior girl of Kallinia; plump Princess Leel of Calith; tiny, demure Silka of Sis Narash and the others.
And, somewhere within the sprawling walls and forbidding towers of the ancient Citadel, are the Acolytes, male counterparts to the Initiates, who in the timeless manner of young men everywhere will undertake any risk if it may result in the chance to meet young women, even if that risk may result in disaster...
The world of Qalle is a world of cruelty, of pain, of punishment. A world of plot, counter-plot and intrigue, but which still allows time enough for love, tenderness and yearning desire.