Mother of Winter
It was a peril so ancient that not even legend remembered its name. But that dangerous, forgotten wizardry was alive again, summoning nameless servants into being and drawing down the glacial ice to crush the Keep of Dare--and, indeed, all of the world. Five years after vanquishing the Dark Ones who had so nearly destroyed the civilization of Renweth, the remnant of that once-great kingdom huddled in the keep, on the brink of starvation. Their survival depended on magic--and magic as they knew it was powerless against the strange, cold force abroad in the world. Ghastly, unnatural growths were spreading across the land, invulnerable to hex and to axe. Whatever those repugnant and ever-spreading things might be, they killed the local flora and fauna, even as they seemed to spawn bizarre, unheard-of creatures to further their grisly work. Ingold Inglorion--Archmage and, perhaps, madman--believed that the source of the life-and-soul-destroying power lay to the south, in the war-torn theocracy of Alketch, and the haunted chasm of the Blind King's Tomb outside its gaudy, decadent capital city. And so Ingold turned his back upon his charges, the people of Dare, and vanished southward, to beard the enemy in its den and so decide the fate of the world. With him went Gil Patterson, the scholar-warrior who had forsaken her own universe to be with him--and who was now bespelled to be the instrument of his death. Meanwhile Rudy Solis, Ingold's pupil and the sole wizard remaining in the Vale of Renweth after the Archmage's desertion, struggled ceaselessly to ward off the ever-more virulent attacks of the ice mage's minions. Increasingly hindered by factional fighting that threatened to tear apart the fragile community, he feared that his own hard-won ability to work magic would fail him. Then someone inside the Keep attacked Minalde, the widowed queen. To protect the woman he loved, Rudy realized that he would have to risk his life and all he held precious, to plumb the ultimate secret locked in the black crystal heart of the Keep of Dare. From the Hardcover edition.