Ile-Rien faces the grim specter of its own imminent demise. Once a fertile and prosperous land, it is now under attack by the Gardier, a mysterious army whose storm-black airships appear from nowhere to strike without warning. Every weapon in the arsenal of Ile-Rien's revered wizards has proven useless -- their magic quickly identified by the enemy and rendered instantly impotent, their conventional arms spontaneously and inexplicably exploded. And the last hope of a magical realm under siege rests within a child's plaything.
The tiny sphere was created for Tremaine Valiarde's amusement when she was a child of twelve, presented to her by her uncle Arisilde, the greatest of all sorcerers. But the mage -- among the first to identify the impending Gardier threat, along with Tremaine's notorious father, Nicholas, and one of the first to die because of it -- secreted a power within the orb capable of defeating the invaders. And now, years later, it falls to a young woman lacking any magical knowledge and abil-ity to release it.
Tremaine's initial attempts have disastrous consequences, transporting her to a strange world far removed from anything she has ever experienced or imagined. In this terrible and wondrous place -- where primitive magic cultures lag far behind Ile-Rien's sophisticated sorcery, where noble warriors clash with dark wizards, where starving demons prowl for prey and the Gardier prepare their assaults -- Tremaine must somehow unlock the sphere's powerful secrets . . . before the slow and monstrous awakening of a hideous evil is complete.