The battle for the soul of Safehold has begun. Charis and Chisholm have joined together, pledged to stand against the tyranny of a corrupt Church. The youthful Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm has wed King Cayleb of Charis, forging a single empire dedicated to the defence of human freedom. Crowned Empress of that empire, Sharleyan has found with Cayleb the love she never dared hope for in a 'marriage of state'. And in Cayleb's cause -- his defiance of the ruthless Group of Four who govern the Church -- she has found the task to which she can commit her mind, her courage, and her life. Yet there are things Sharleyan does not know, secrets Cayleb has not been permitted to share, even with his beloved wife. Secrets like the true history of humanity on Safehold. Like the intricate web of lies, deception, and fabricated 'religion' which have chained humanity for almost a thousand years. And so Empress Sharleyan faces the great challenge of her life unaware of all that task truly entails ...and of how the secrets Cayleb cannot share may threaten all they have achieved. And may threaten her life itself.