"Prior is maybe one of the best fantasy/horror writers of this generation. His environments and settings generate a realistic scenario, permeated with a sense of foreboding and oft times, gloom and doom. His dialogues between characters are meaningful and the 'asides' he uses to indicate what his people are really thinking, often differ greatly from what's coming out of their mouths." (Ray Nicholson reviews)
One by one, the guilds of New Jerusalem fall to Shadrak the Unseen and his accomplice, the poisoner Albert. But as the battle for supremacy comes to a head, Shadrak is given a new order by the mysterious Archon: kill his closest living friend, the Nameless Dwarf.
The philosopher Aristodeus persuades the Archon to stay his hand, proposing instead three quests that will free Nameless from the curse of the black axe that led him to slaughter his own people.
But the plan has perils of its own: a visit to the fire giant’s lair at the heart of a volcano; a daring raid on the Liche Lord’s castle in darkest Verusia; and a confrontation with the son of the Demiurgos in the depths of the Abyss.
Even with the incomparable partnership of Shadrak and Nameless, the quests seem doomed to failure, and so Aristodeus tries once more to entice Deacon Shader back to the fight.
But Shader is a changed man, more given to drink than the sword, and if he should discover the secret Rhiannon and Aristodeus have kept from him these past four years, the quests are sure to come to a crashing halt before they even get off the ground.
Friendship, scheming, and the worst horrors imaginable combine to test the companions to the limits, and despair dark enough to corrode even the most unwavering faith awaits those not destined to return.