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There's nothing like sweeping up tag-ends to change the world. The Seven Cities Rebellion has been crushed. Sha'ik slain by Tavore, the Malazan forces pacifying city after city on the troubled subcontinent, and one last rebel army, under the reluctant, embittered command of Leoman of the Flails, is pursued to the ancient and infamous city of Y'Ghatan by Tavore and the Fourteenth Army. Y'Ghatan, where the Malazan Empire's greatest champion of long ago, Dassem Ultor, was slain, where more Malazan blood has been spilled than anywhere else in Seven Cities. Dogged by self-doubt and ill omens, the 14th must lay slege to the city, and Adjunct Tavore must seek to outwit Leoman of the Flails, the deadliest foe she has ever faced. Elsewhere on the subcontinent, agents of a far larger conflict have made their opening moves. The prize: nothing less than existence itself, for the Crippled God is now sanctioned, granted a rightful place in the pantheon, and the ground-rules have changed, irrevocably. Elder and new, dark and light, wild and ordered, a schism threatens and sides must be chosen. And whatever each god decides, rest assured that the first blood spilled will be in the mortal world.Into this fraught scenario come characters new and familiar. Among the latter are Heboric Ghost Hands, journeying to redress an old wrong; Apsalar, haunted by possession and now the principal agent of Cotillion, Patron of Assassins, marking a trail with blood and dripping daggers; Cutter, the killer who had once been a thief in Darujhistan, fleeing a shattered heart; Karsa Orlong, a warrior hunting his destiny. And two old friends, traveling companions, Mappo and Icarium, wandering the ravaged wastelands: Icarium seeking the ancient truths of his own life, Mappo seeking to keep those truths from him, at all costs. All, searching for such fates as they might fashion with their own hands, guided by their own will. If only the gods would leave them alone. Alas, the gods are disinclined to be kin
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