The strong shall be as tinder,
And the work of it as a spark;
Both will burn together,
And no one shall quench them.
When a monster from the ancient world breaks a centuries-old estrangement between two races, threatening to annihilate both, Liriel Willowtree is chosen as a symbol of the all-powerful and immortal Aeterna and sent to protect the lower races of humanity. But when the power of her people fails her and she is forced to rely on the resourcefulness of a scrappy human waif, she comes face to face with fallacies in a doctrine she believed infallible. With a weapon that could change the future in her hands and the fate of races at stake, Liriel must choose between two worlds in order to save both: To abandon her kindred and claim allegiance with the well-meaning but often dishonorable Mortalus, or to forgive the ominous truth of her people’s past and accept the sovereign paths of the Aeterna.
“You see, I don’t win because I want to.” A cool wind swept across the forest and pushed her hood back, letting loose an explosion of hair. It swirled around her face, glowing silver in the moonlight like the spray of stars above.
“I win because I must.”
“So!” The child whacked her knee with an eager palm and beamed at Liriel. “I come to ‘fess up. Mabel, you need to know—” she paused to draw in a dramatic lung-full of air— “I lied.”
He lifted his face to the stars as though he knew them all by name, and in the darkness, his eyes were a reflection of their souls.
“I realize I’m supposed to be in charge, but currently, I have no idea what’s going on.” With a wink and a flippant smile that was anything but heartening, he said, “Does that make me unprofessional?”
“Do you know,” Liriel murmured, “I think even if you weren’t ordered to kill me, you’d do it anyway.”
He sneered, and any trace of beauty left in his face disappeared like a candle flame in the wind. “Yep.”